When I first visited Preesman’s new show case at Thika, it was on invitation of Jelle Posthumus, the commercial manager, Preesman. I met a team honoured to satisfy the curiosity of their customers who kept on tripling every minute courting for their attention. By count I could not tell the number of times they walked in to the new show case with a different customer then back to the reception area for either continual discussion with the same client or for a fresh discussion with a new client. On a close follow up, I realized that inside the show case was more technical and less commercial whereas in the reception was more commercial and less technical. These men had a wide knowledge of the two worlds of rose breeding. In between the customers, I stole some few minutes and managed to get a few minutes of interview with several of them.
Preessman is making magic. In other word they exist for the sake of excellence but within a frame work of simplicity. Their contribution to Kenya’s flower sector is penetrating, perceptible and above all, a creative insight into the minds of growers. “No compromising of quality whatsoever”, Mr. Bob Goedemans, the CEO told me.
Since the takeover three years ago, under close control of their president Mr. Ahmed Nzibo, Preesman has trodden along the lines of company success. Thanks to the business focused brand of directors, a purpose- built management team and a well-drilled staff force. “We work as a team that’s our strength”, said Mr. Goedemans. Jelle Posthumus is our commercial manager and for the last one month is being assisted by Deborah Valk, our new sales representative. Behind the beautiful varieties is Alejandra Tapia who is in charge of research and development.
Preesman the breeder.Globally, we have tens of rose breeders flowering the industry with different varieties. However, it is only Preesman who has both breeding and selection in Kenya. The rest are doing it in Holland, Germany or France. This has enabled the Nakuru based breeding house to triple its breeding power and consolidate its market. To command its presence in the global scene, the company has a selection / show room in Colombia and a show room in Ecuador. In Holland the company has a legal and sales office. In addition, the company has a selection / showroom in Ethiopia (at Joytech) and in other parts of the world; they work closely together with agents like their competitor Olij roses. As though this is not enough, the company opened another show room in Thika to take care of the low altitude growing zones to be specific, Thika, Athiriver, Kitengela, Nairobi and part of Naivasha in Kenya in addition to Tanzania and Uganda and Ziway in Ethiopia.The art of breeding
There is definitely super-intelligencerequired in performing the various operations in breeding. One needs to know and love the material with which they work and be endowed with sufficient optimism and enthusiasm. The fact that there is a certain amount of speculative uncertainty as to what the result will be adds interest to the work. Frankly, rose breeding is a fascinating game of chance between man and plants. “We invest a lot of time and money in the real breeding that we do, using high end technology and software in all our processes. In fact if you visit Nakuru you will see our researchers walking around with tablets. We really are acting like an architect and know what we’re doing by years and years of data collection”, says Mr.Goedemans. Patience, perseverance and the ability to formulate a definite plan or objective are prime requisites if success is to be achieved.
In any discussion with growers, the name Madam Red will be in most of their lips. It has left memorable ideas, images and stories in growers’ minds. However, you will be unknowledgeable to think that it is the only variety criss-crossing their lips. Adamma (cerise), named after an Ethiopian town and Confidential (orange)have also been the talk in most growers’ forums. In addition, High & Peace has also been doing well in the market as a high productive white.
Following the success of most of their varieties, the company is set to introduce Madam Pink and Amily (red) into the market. These will be quickly followed by Taxi (yellow) and Icon (bi-orange). Then Red Torch and Duchesse (soft pink), Mil Razones (peach) and Dubai (white) will be released into the market.
Before conception of the idea, one thing was clear to the managements’ minds, success of their varieties. Though they have the main showroom in Nakuru, there was need to show the growers the actual specifications of the varieties they chose under the same circumstances they are growing themselves. Growers in the low altitude will be able to determine the actual stem length, production, head size, vase life and colour. In addition, the company will be able to collect data on their varieties and many codes tested in Thika which will help them translate this back into their breeding program.
After sales service.
Preesman believes in partnering with their customers. This is why they have invested a lot in marketing their varieties to flower consumers. They regularly visit the auctions, unpackers companies, importers in Europe and Russia among others to promote their varieties. The company staff
regularly discuss with growers on how to position the different varieties into the market. This ensures they do not flood the market and kill the product. Last year in the Russia flower exhibition, they joined a number of growers to brand a complete stand with Madam Red which gave a big boost to the variety in the market. In addition, they frequently pull and push into the market the different varieties for growers benefit. As we say at Preesman ‘we not only create varieties, we create variety concepts’.
Though this is not enough, the team is only a phone call away from the growers for any technical support. Even before this, the company has what they call an early client involvement program as a joint effort with growers to select the best varieties. This is the involvement of the major clients in selection of the different varieties. It helps them to make decisionson the best varieties. They regularly visit the growers for trial follow ups and discuss the performance of the variety in the farm.
As Longfellow will definitely tell you, the heights of great men were attained not by sudden flight; but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upwards in the night. And this is true for Preesman, all proudly made in Kenya.