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A company that sows the seed of teamwork in every employee
Published
March 22, 2022
Read
4 minutes

Goodness to the core: the mark of good produce and a good company.

Executive summary

As the number one vegetable seed producer in the Netherlands, and ranking number four in the world, Rijk Zwaan, with a global market share of about 9%, competes with the biggest players in the industry. 

Despite its size, still a family business, the company stands out above the rest with its unique approach to its own employees, who are offered lifelong employment prospects.

To ensure that their claim of "sharing a healthy future" is not just an empty slogan, and applies to both their products and company culture, as a recruitment partner we need to understand the company's DNA to take it global and repeatedly fill hard-to-fill positions with the right people around the world.

About the client

The tale of how this great enterprise came to be what it is today is remarkable, involving a family business established 90 years ago by a Dutch family who opened a shop selling vegetable, flower and crop seeds in Rotterdam and soon began developing new vegetable and fruit varieties, also improving existing varieties and their resistance to specific diseases and bacteria.

A brief period of ownership of the company by BP in the 80s ended in the family buying their business back from the multinational.

A job for life. 
A primary objective

A brief period when the brand was owned by a large corporation before it reverted back into the hands of the family led the owners to reinforce the main objective: to offer all employees a long-term job that they enjoy and that has attractive working conditions. There are not many companies who do not have this objective in general, but indeed it is how this company goes about meeting this objective that makes it unique. 

They cultivate their workforce as well as their crops, providing a permanent contract to every employee when they start working. They want their people to be there for the long haul by providing them with a job for life.  

This is both admirable and demonstrably successful, particularly in the “means to an end” culture that can exist in job seekers culture nowadays. 

Patrick Westerburger
Kestria Netherlands, Managing Partner

The tagline of the company is ‘sharing a healthy future’ and that means that they do not only focus on their own development and growth, but also want to contribute and play an active role in feeding the growing world population. This is not a hollow phrase to our client. They truly put this into practice at each of their subsidiaries whether in Germany or in Tanzania.

Seeking teamwork at the core  

What drives innovation within the company is solid teamwork, created and grown organically in the organisation through finding the right people. Rijk Zwaan takes their culture more seriously than most. 

The company lives and breathes its principles and seeks to ensure that every single person involved in their operation meets the same bar. For this reason, we had to base our quest as recruitment partner on finding candidates not just with the right skills and knowledge, but with the right hearts and innovation in their DNA

We have placed several Managing Directors for the Client around the world and continue to do so.  

Interesting facts

R&D higher than average

40% of the currently 3600 employee-strong workforce is working in R&D and 30% of the annual turnover is spent on R&D, unsurprisingly higher than the industry average. 

HR Academy

Own academy founded in cooperation with the IESE business school in Spain which is one of the authorities on HR serves to keep key staff updated on company culture development

Taking the talk and walk global 

When we talk about cultural differences, to ensure that all sides know each other well and truly understand the client and their needs, we liaised with Rijk Zwaan and local Kestria partners to ensure smooth operation through all phases. 

Having partners based in the various countries, including in emerging markets, really helps us to align ourselves with all issues on the ground and function as a local, and so to say bring the “Walk and Talk” of Rijk Zwaan to each new home and establishing and cultivating their culture locally while also expanding it at the global level. 

To date we have managed to achieve this in 16 countries! 

Driving success through focus on people 

The “what” your candidates are can be taken care of per a strong process of local research and examination of data and statistics. The “who” they should be takes additional effort and a certain amount of finesse.  

Our approach was open and close communication from the very beginning. We made the strong culture of Rijk Zwaan clear to our partners. Understanding the need of the client to have people aligned with their principles was an integral part in the success of this project. 

The local expertise of our specialists means they know the ins and outs of specific markets, including the labour laws and navigating the market to find the most suitable person. Kestria is active in 40 countries and Rijk Zwaan has subsidiaries in 30 countries so we can partner with them in every corner of the world. 

Developing the company's legacy. With every person, every position, in every corner of the world. 

Connecting Rijk Zwaan with our local partners was paramount to ensuring strong and consistent focus on what mattered. As with all projects we had a timeframe to keep to, but in the face of the challenge at hand the emphasis above all had to be on finding THE person for the role. For the company. Not an interim, not to see how they would fare. THE person to continue the legacy and help Rijk Zwaan to continue to flourish.  

Clear communication from the beginning followed by the facilitation of regular update sessions between Rijk Zwaan and our Kestria partners helped us to maintain focus on the main vision and ultimately find that person. 

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