MEET: Rudy van den Berg29-03-2022
True stories, plants and the future of vertical farming
Interview with Rudy van den Berg
Sporty, honest, and a keen fan of the beer coaster strategy. That is Commercial Manager Rudy van den Berg, in a nutshell. Stemming from a grower’s bloodline, he does what he loves to do, and when Rudy is not busy rolling out strategies for Artechno, chances are that you will find him in the woods with his family. Rudy is married to Jolanda; they have two daughters, Amy (12) and Jill (9).
It's a ladies' gang at your house; what's it like to be the only man in the house?
"It's really incredibly fun. I come from a family of mostly men, hence at times, it takes some getting used to. The dynamics are very different, as are the topics of conversation. But being the only man also has great advantages: they all love me, haha!"
How do you spend your time off?
"Preferably pretty active. With the family, we often venture out on fun things. On the weekends we may drive someplace and go for a walk. All four of us really enjoy that.
I also like to play sports, especially running. In 2019 I ran the Rotterdam marathon; I'm kind of proud of that! It was a great experience."
What is typically Rudy?
"Energy, perseverance, and honesty. I always have heaps of energy to tackle all kinds of things, both at work and at home. Whether it's drafting a strategy or training for long-distance running, bring it on! I also follow through and make sure I bring it to a successful finish.
Other than that, I am honest. I need to be myself, and I can't pretend to be anything other than what I am. That's why I act exactly the same way at work as I do at home; you will always know what you can expect from me."
What made you want to join Artechno?
"Before Artechno, I worked for a large company where I at times missed the leverage I could have on the process and the results. In a big company, you are often not more but a small wheel in the whole thing. Artechno is a smaller company where you can contribute to the process and see the results.
Another focus at Artechno are the plantlets, and that is truly my passion. My father was a grower, so the love for plants is in my genes. In addition, this is my first managerial position, which I consider a wonderful challenge.
So, plenty of benefits, which is why I started working at Artechno on December 1st."
What do you enjoy most about your work?
"What I find especially cool is the quick decision-making within the team. We come up with ideas together and immediately carry them out the next day.
On top of that, I totally fell for the product. The plantlets, indoor farming, fresh vegetables, and contributing in some way to help solve the world's problems. In that area, I see the advantages of vertical farming, growing fresh produce in urban areas, and with that, providing food security.
At Artechno, every day is about factory output, little plants, vegetables, and fully controlled yields. And that all comes together in a super hip future proof solution."
What to your mind is the biggest challenge at Artechno?
"I need to think about that question for a while.
The biggest challenge for Artechno is to really become the global vertical agriculture authority and become the market leader.
My personal challenge is that I would like to make the department run like a well-oiled machine or at least contribute to it."
To what do you want to contribute on the work floor?
"I think it's essential to create the possibility for my colleagues to do the things they enjoy and perform at their best. I love to see people develop.
I also find it important that we achieve goals with the department, and most importantly, that we celebrate the wins."
Do you have any fun stories about Artechno?
"For sure, that would be the story of the beer coaster strategy. Sometimes we go out to enjoy a few drinks when suddenly a good idea pops up, we will write it on the back of a beer coaster. Then we have another beer, and the next day we start working out the beer coaster idea. We soon discovered that it works really well.
We introduced the "beer coaster strategy" to the sales department. We agreed to brainstorm and discuss a plan for a maximum of half an hour, write that plan down on a beer coaster, and then get to work. It's a playful way to work efficiently and take steps quickly. Great things can emerge from a friendly drink...".
How do you experience team Artechno?
"There is a very open atmosphere on the work floor. There are all different types of people walking around, everyone brings in their value, and everyone has the freedom to speak their mind. The team now consists of about 35 people, and we are all incredibly united.
For example, I like that you have to walk through the production hall to get coffee. While passing through the hall, you talk to your colleagues, and you see what they are doing, which makes it more engaging for the rest of the marketing and sales team and me. By the same token, we also try to maintain that connection by, for example, telling people in our WhatsApp group about the things we are doing."
How do you see Artechno's vertical farming future?
"I hope that we keep the growth and the momentum going. That we continue to deliver those turnkey, high-quality solutions to our customers and thereby conquer the market in an organic way. That way, by telling an honest and good story, we can become a real market leader."
The honesty of Artechno fits well with your core value of honesty; is that a coincidence?
"No, that's what appealed to me about Artechno right away. No matter what industry you are in and what kind of company you work for, you always have to deal with competition. Sometimes I see competitors cross a line and they are just not totally honest about what they say they can do and what they are actually doing.
I, on the contrary, firmly believe in staying close to the core. We should tell people our solutions and how well they perform, and just show them. That way, we prove ourselves in an honest way and build trust in the market. That really fits me."
Matters of choice
Mountains or the beach?
"I find that very difficult, but if I really must choose, I'll go for mountains. I love skiing and would love to go to Austria every year with my family to go skiing."
Sports or couch surfing?
"Sports. I used to play a lot of soccer; these days, I'm mostly running. For two years now I've also been meaning to buy a racing bike; who knows, maybe this will be the year..."
Beer or wine?
"That's also a tricky one, but then I'll go for the beer and especially special beer. Tripel Karmeliet is my favorite beer."
Music or a podcast?
"Music. I come from the grunge/punk/pop/rock era, so I'm kind of in the ballpark of bands like Nirvana and Greenday."
Study or learn on the job?
"Learning on the job. I also never read manuals; I just get to work and gradually learn how something works."