‘Together we are witnessing a historic moment at Aartsen: In 2022, we will be experiencing the strongest growth in 115 years’
Forget the takeovers. Forget the milestones. In 2022, we can expect a life-changing moment in the Aartsen history. In recent years, our dedicated colleagues have made huge efforts to get Fresh, our new custom-made ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system, up and running. This system will take Aartsen to the next level. We are trading up from a 90s VW Polo to a hypermodern full-option Mercedes.
Jack Aartsen looks back on the old ERP system, which was developed in-house by the third Aartsen generation. ‘We have worked very successfully with this system for 35 years, but the time was ripe for a new system. With the benefit of hindsight, we started this project too late. The public still sees us as a forward-looking, innovative, role-model company in the fruit and vegetable sector. In many ways I agree with this, except for one caveat: when it comes to innovation and IT, we really are behind the curve.’
Three years ago, the company decided to catch up in a big way. ‘We invested in expanding the team of colleagues and in setting up an in-house IT department. Five years ago, this department did not even exist. Now we have six colleagues working there.’
While choosing an off-the-shelf system would seem the most obvious move, Aartsen walked its own path and went for a bespoke solution. Together with Thinkwise, it developed its own custom-made ERP system. ‘This was absolutely not the easiest choice, but certainly the best one for Aartsen and the future.’
Jack is really proud of the team of colleagues that run this project. ‘The plaudits do not belong to me, by to these driven colleagues. They put their heart and soul into this project. I hope for them that it will be a great success.’
Renewing an ERP system after 35 years in a large organisation like ours is a transformation of incalculable significance. ‘This system will take Aartsen to the next level. There is no way back - success is the only option. The system will bring our ambitions for the coming years back within reach. This makes its historic significance many times greater than everyone in our organisation realises.
For years, my personal goal has been to get us all aiming to be the best fruit and vegetable company in this sector. I do not need to be the biggest, nor the fastest: I want to be the best. At any rate, that is what we are striving for. We were really behind the curve. I always compare it to a VW Polo. We were driving the world’s fastest Polo. While it zipped along the motorway at 250 kilometres an hour, it was just held together with cable ties.’
The new ERP system is comparable to a big Mercedes with standard features and plenty of potential –like a car that creates a new driving experience. ‘From this point on, we can start planning for the future again.
In recent years, our outdated ERP system prevented me from making a plan. Soon, however, we will be driving with a powerful basic engine that will really let us achieve our ambitions. Once again, we have the potential and capacity to make a great leap forward.’
The past five years have seen the strongest growth in Aartsen’s 115-year history. ‘This is thanks to our fantastic team of ambitious colleagues. The company is like a runaway train that is racing along the tracks and I can no longer hold it back. All I can do is ensure that our organisation keeps the train on track, because I am convinced that it will keep on going for the next five years.’
When Fresh goes live, Aartsen will have gained a sales-boosting ERP system. ‘It is a truly custom-made solution. In terms of innovation, we will soon have new data at our disposal. Five years ago, I would never have imagined that we would be employing a data analyst.
We will soon be using these data to take new steps commercially. We will also be able to make efficiency improvements in our warehouse. Data equal knowledge, and knowledge equals power. That is something we were never able to leverage, but soon we will.’
Fresh will go live in 2022. ‘There is so much going on in our organisation right now. People are being trained, taking courses and feel involved.’