Johma & IPP
‘IPP had a strong proposal, with competitive pricing and a transparent pricing structure. They told us exactly what we could expect and how much we would pay. And, just as importantly, they were able to deliver upon the transparency they promised.’
Remco Rijsenbrij, Director Operaties Johma
Collaborating in quality
A lot has changed since Remco Rijsenbrij joined Johma in 2010 as Director of Operations. At the time, the future of the Dutch producer of salads and related products was very much in doubt; since then, its output has increased with 40% and its storage capacity has doubled. Now, Johma is a well-established, premium brand that is valued by customers for the quality of its products.
For food retailers, too, it is one of the top brands. IPP has been part of Johma’s resurgence from the beginning. We talk to Remco about how it all began for him, what has happened since and how he sees the future in logistics.
Remco has recently been occupied with the expansion and renovation of Johma’s premises. A necessary step, as the company was starting to burst at the seams. Its growth has been substantial since 2010. What has been the secret of Johma’s success? ‘Everything begins and ends with quality. We make sure that we always have the best recipes; merely alright is not good enough. All our products need to be distinctive and every new product has to be better than the one it replaces. Significantly better. And we don’t just demand this quality from ourselves; every company we work with has to meet our quality demands.’
Remco feels that Johma’s success is also the result of its honesty and modesty. In doing simple things, and doing them well: ‘It’s only salad business, you know. Producing 30.000 varieties or more exclusive products isn’t going to work. We have experimented with a niche approach in the past, but that didn’t work out. ‘We excel in recognizable tastes done right, with the best possible recipes. That’s how we create. And that’s how we make sure that consumers stay loyal to our products.’
This focus on quality and simplicity is also expected from Johma’s suppliers – including the supplier of pool pallets. Back in 2012, Johma had another supplier that was unable to meet these expectations. No wonder that it didn’t take Remco long to decide things needed to change: ‘I was in restructuring mode when I arrived. It struck me that the pallet pool was costing us money. When I took a long, hard look, I found that our then-supplier of pallets totally lacked transparency. I don’t mind paying for services we receive, but when I don’t understand what I’m paying for I tend to get nervous.’
When Remco discussed this with the supply chain manager of another well-known food producer, it turned out that he also was less than satisfied with the pool pallet provider’s lack of transparency. The market sector could really use a strong alternative, they decided This became IPP, an upcoming provider with a compatible corporate culture: ‘IPP had a strong proposal, with competitive pricing and a transparent pricing structure. They told us exactly what we could expect and how much we would pay. And, just as importantly, they were able to deliver upon the transparency they promised.’
Nowadays, years later, the reliability and transparency are still there. ‘IPP provides the care we need. The paperwork is clear and simple, so it doesn’t take me a lot of time. IPP’s pool pallets smoothly fade into the background, as they should. In the end, they are just a commodity!
Johma currently accounts for 150.000 pallet movements per year. IPP’s total ‘chilled’ pool has a volume of 2 million pallet movements within the Netherlands; five time as many as when the company first started. For IPP, quality is a top priority. The pooling process is fully controlled and the pallets always meet the strictest demands; a big advantage, with the current rise of automated warehouses. Remco: ‘An automated warehouse has big advantages, but is very sensitive to disruptions. And few things are more disruptive than broken pallets. We really want to avoid those. The best way to do so is to buy new pallets for each delivery, but of course this is completely unfeasible. Pool pallets are the next best thing.’
In the future, Remco would like to collaborate even more closely with supply chain partners such as IPP. ‘At the moment, it is unavoidable that broken pallets sometimes end up in the process. That’s why it would be a good idea for all of us to get together to establish an independent measuring centre. A place where pallets are automatically and randomly tested, according to strict demands. On top of that, we would like to participate in distribution centres, making sure that broken and good pallets are separated and sent to the right location. As it is, we receive the whole mix. Not a very efficient situation.’
Remco has more plans. An entrance control system, for instance: an automated platform that automatically unloads and checks pallets, before allowing them to be sent into the warehouse: ‘If we succeed in automating the control mechanism, we can avoid downtime due to broken pallets. It’s the only way; manually checking every pallet is impossible.’
When Remco first arrived at Johma, he started forming long term relationships with companies that had a lot to win and a lot to prove. Companies with an entrepreneurial spirit, determined to – just like Johma – become successful. IPP is one of these original partners: ‘The depth of the relationship we have achieved is unattainable with a new contractor. Once you get to know each other well, you are willing to go the extra mile for each other. This loyalty and the values we share make my work that much more interesting and pleasant.’
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