Snepvangers Tuinplanten has been operating on the outskirts of Molenschot since 1983. The proud owner is Stephan Snepvangers. “37 years ago, my father bought a 1.5-hectare corn field on this site. People said it was the most barren piece of land in the area,” laughs Stephan. No problem for Snepvangers Senior, who built a greenhouse on the plot and was one of the first horticulturists to start growing plants in pots. That golden idea was the start of this green adventure.
Growing in pots was a lucrative idea, as it allowed Snepvangers to sell plants all year round, independent of the season. But what really made the company flourish were Stephan’s father’s green fingers. He studied ornamental shrubs that could adorn gardens all year round. “He got cuttings from everywhere,” says Stephan. “If he saw a beautiful plant in somebody’s garden, he wouldn’t hesitate to knock at the door. He quickly got to work with these cuttings in the greenhouse.” The Skimmia rapidly became a favourite, and this evergreen shrub is still the Snepvangers showpiece. “It’s not a difficult plant for people at home, but growing it is quite a different matter. You really need a feeling for it.” Fortunately, the Snepvangers have this feeling is their genes.
Father on son
Stephan didn’t automatically take over the business from his father. “I studied Horticulture in Wageningen and got a job as a cell biologist. However, I found myself working more time in the lab than I wanted, so after 3 years I had a chat with my father.” Stephan’s father was happily surprised. They’ve been working together for 7 years. Symbolically, the first thing he did was to hand over his phone to his son with all his contacts. Stephan has been at the helm of the company for a number of years now. “My father wanted to go back to his roots, with his fingers in the earth. Luckily he can still be found at the nursery every day!”
The company continues to grow in Stephan’s green hands. More automated processes, more plants and more customers; the latter is partly due to Mark Bomaars. “Mark worked for us long ago during the school holidays,” Stephan says. “Following a break in his studies, he joined us, supposedly temporarily, but never left. He helped me by calling our contacts on file, and it went so well that he took on more and more commercial tasks.” Stephan and Mark are now partners when it comes to sales. Each has their own niche of expertise. They complement each other well, but they also have a lot in common. For example, the commitment to the company and their staff, the desire to make customers’ lives easier, and a passion for the profession.
Stephan not only has green fingers, his policy is also green. For example, Snepvangers uses flower pots made from recycled material that can be disposed of with plastic waste and sorted for recycling thanks to their grey colour. The company also uses a minimum of chemicals to get rid of pests. “I prefer biological solutions, so I follow all developments closely. We prefer to do everything as sustainably as possible!” says Stephan enthusiastically. The same philosophy applies to the company’s relationships. This is shown by the fact that they still have customers and members of staff who were present at the very beginning, way back in 1983! Stephan finds it difficult to explain why this is the case at Snepvangers exactly, because there are so many possible answers. Communications lines are short, the atmosphere is informal, and there’s no hierarchy. And… you’re always welcome. You feel it as soon as you step in the door.