7 October 2019 • Arie Verhoef
Four students work for The Flower Family
They have an innovative business concept. Their positive drive knows no limits. Ideally they want to conquer the world from the Dutch town of Aalsmeer. The flower products from The Flower Family find their way to living rooms and offices. Four students on the Finance & Control degree programme (Faculty of Business, Finance & Management) have made a valuable contribution to the company’s wonderful mission, “Flowering a better world”.
The Flower Family makes a positive change to society in every stage of the production process, from the flower growers to members of the ‘family’. Jos van Beuningen, one of the founders: “We work with sustainably-grown flowers which are supplied by growers in the Netherlands, if possible. Our talents, people who are at a distance from the labour market, transform these flowers into bouquets that will put a smile on the recipient’s face. We see this as “flowering a better world”. It’s my dream to create one large Flower Family that is meaningful for our fellow humans, the environment and society.
It was not a huge love for flowers that took the four second-year students from Finance & Control, Chris Kouters, Ralph van der Holst, Tim Kortekaas and Robert Jacobs, to Aalsmeer. Chris: “It was more because we could put our strengths in Excel and accounting to good use there.” For Jos van Beuningen, that was not a problem. “I look for students who are eager to learn and able to carry out a high-quality research project.”
When Chris and his fellow students had made their choice, they did some research. “Then we thought, you know, a company that places great importance on sustainability, that’s one of THUAS’s top priorities. It would be good to find out more about that. We also thought it was great that a start-up such as The Flower Family had been able to conquer a space in the impressively large Green Trade Center Aalsmeer. Furthermore, we were also immediately impressed with the passion among staff working in this company.”
That passion also focuses on people who are at a distance from the job market. Jos van Beuningen: “We brought in two Syrian refugees to The Flower Family. Those two young people do an amazing job, they earn their living, they are able to rent a house and they are thinking of starting a family. Their lives have gained meaning again. After all of the misery they have gone through, you can now see a smile on their face again.”
“I think that is one of the best things about The Flower Family”, said Chris. “Most other companies do not take the risk, because there is that distance from the labour market. However, Jos and his fellow founders Laurens and Ilja are not looking to make the maximum amount of profit. They would rather be meaningful for people, the environment and society.”
All kinds of scenarios
The four students developed an Excel tool for The Flower Family which allows the company to gain a greater insight into costs and revenues. Jos van Beuningen: “The great thing about this tool is that it allows us to calculate all kinds of scenarios.”
Chris tries to explain to accounting dummies what he and his fellow students have done. “First of all, we calculated the break-even point of the company. That calculation is at the root of the entire tool. Then we converted the desired situations into figures. We also set the labour intensity against the number of bouquets that The Flower Family needs to supply each day. We calculated the company’s liquidity position. In the Integrated Reporting, we show how The Flower Family can operate in a sustainable manner. This means that we show how their strategy, governance, activities and outlook can add value to society.”
Jos van Beuningen feels that the four young people have carried out extremely useful work for The Flower Family. “They also found it educational to do this kind of research for real.” Chris learned in particular to have respect for other people’s opinions. “I am always quite direct and rapidly jump to the conclusion that my opinion is the right one. You can’t do that when you’re working for a company. Then you represent the insights and values of that company.”
Jos van Beuningen and the other members of The Flower Family are slightly ahead of other companies in this aspect. Jos: “We have a passion that rapidly brings others on board. We see that the people who work with us also quickly become enthusiastic. We work in a family setting and we are pleased to give the students the space they need to do their research. This worked out perfectly with these four young people.”
How does The Flower Family contribute to the Finance & Control degree programme? Chris: “Most of the projects offered by our degree programme are first and foremost an extension of the studies. We have learnt many new things at The Flower Family. This also influenced our choice of internship during the third year. I think that students will be more inclined to look for a company where they can also learn many new things.”