Willem, Rit and Philip VanNieuwenhuyzen are the second generation at the helm of Vanco Farms, which engages in arable farming and flower bulb production. The company is based on Prince Edward Island, an island off the coast of Canada, north of Nova Scotia.
One of the brothers was an intern at Bloembollenbedrijf Arendse in Slootdorp. The owner’s son, Bas Arendse, was interested in pursuing an internship in Canada, and so it happened. “In 2006, I went to Canada to work for Vanco Farms,” he says. “In 2008, I decided to stay, provided I got my own share in the company. That's how Vanco Flowers came about, as a separate limited company for tulips.” He has since married Jane de Boer, a Canadian with Dutch roots, and together they have three sons. There is still a relationship with the family business in Slootdorp: “We buy bulbs from my sister, who now runs the business”.
Vanco Flowers breeds around 15 million tulips on potting soil, some 75 varieties. For the bunches, Arendse operates three Quality Bunchers. “In addition, we work with a robotic arm for loading and unloading, tray washing and planting,” he says. Most of the tulips are common varieties. About 10% are more exclusive ones, such as double tulips and parakeet tulips. “These are processed in a separate department,” Arendse explains.