Name: Will Spreeuwenberg
Aartsen branch: Venlo
Place of birth: Venray
Fruit: Grapes, mangoes, blueberries and mandarin oranges
Vegetable: I enjoy them all, except tomatoes...
Meal: Asparagus with ham, eggs and small potatoes
Season: There is something unique about every season, so I don't have a specific preference.
On his bucket list: A trip to Canada with my family
Did you know? Graaf ter Horst is one of my favourite places? I love to relax with a cup of coffee there, after going on a walk through the Kasteelse Bossen nature reserve.
Will Spreeuwenberg completed studies in German Language and Culture in 2013 at the University of Nijmegen, but then immediately switched to an industry career. He joined Aartsen Venlo as an account manager, a decision he has not regretted for one instant. Quite the opposite. ‘My work is so fascinating and varied. I never get tired of it.’
‘Lots of people in Venlo work in fruit and vegetable cultivation, so it's hardly surprising that I ended up in the same sector myself. Looking back, I think my interest in it was piqued at an early age. My grandpa grew asparagus, strawberries and other berries, and my first part-time job was in the fresh produce section of the local supermarket. After my German studies, I could have decided to pursue a career in academia or in education. But as soon as I saw a job vacancy at Aartsen, I knew that was the direction I wanted to take.’
‘Truth be told, studying German also made sense. Even in high school, I had an affinity with the German language. I was utterly fascinated by the grammar, and the country itself is also magnificent. My parents and I loved to visit often – it was only a fifteen-minute bike ride to the border. At home, we almost always watched the German channels on TV. At university I learned all about the works of Goethe, Heinrich Heine and the rest, but I knew I didn't want to spend the rest of my life with my nose in a book. My heart told me that I would feel more at home in industry.’
‘Yeah, my degree has helped me out a bit in my current job at Aartsen. Most of my business contacts are Germans or people from German-speaking countries, and so I know how they like to be treated. Each client is different, but in general I don't initiate contact with the familiar du, which is much more common in Dutch. It's better to use Sie at first. But once we get to know each other, the communication automatically becomes more casual.
Partly because I’m fine talking to German customers who want to have a bit of a chat. When that happens, they notice that you're willing to invest in an ongoing relationship. They certainly appreciate it, which also brings extra benefits.’
‘My customer portfolio is extremely varied. I supply market vendors, cutting facilities, airline caterers, and intermediaries that deliver fruit and vegetables to restaurants, and even an entire amusement park. I know all of their first and last names, and have even met many of them in person. At Aartsen, we focus on building long-term relationships and partnerships, not on short-term successes. Our motto is: we move together, and grow together. That means you need to understand people, their specific needs, and how they prefer to communicate. You learn to get a feel for it, although it always remains a challenge. That's one of the things that helps keep my job so enjoyable.’
‘Another interesting aspect is that my personal interest in fruit and vegetables evolves as I do. As a salesperson, it's impossible to avoid – your own favourite products are always the ones you sell the most of. I have a special fondness for grapes. The species and varieties are just getting better and better all the time, whether they come from Peru, Portugal or South Africa. Grapes... just a glorious product. The same goes for other soft fruits, like mangoes and mandarins. You can taste the progress that the cultivators are making. And you can say the same about vegetables too. Tomatoes are the only thing I really can't vibe with. I just don't like them that much, you know?
‘It's true, we do work hard at Aartsen. My Monday mornings begin at 05:00, all other days I start at 06:00, and I go home early one afternoon a week. Two colleagues and I also alternate to work for Aartsen on Saturdays, when we plan everything that needs to happen the following Monday. I enjoy all the associated responsibilities, being the contact person for my colleagues. We all share the same mentality, and enjoy putting the pedal to the metal. It's in our company culture. Aartsen does also move with the times though. Bit by bit, we are working towards more flexible working hours. We ultimately need to secure new generations of employees, after all.’
'I also gave up playing football recently, because I have more things to take care of in my personal life. My wife and I have 18-month-old twins, which is a big responsibility alongside my busy job. I prepare each morning’s sandwiches the night before, and my wife takes charge of the girls after that. On Tuesday afternoon, which is my fixed day off, I pick them up from daycare myself, and every parent will know that fatherhood brings many more responsibilities than this. Even so, we have been blessed with an incredible gift, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.'