From seed distributor to specialist for growing promotional products: The roots of Corthogreen date back to the 19th Century. Today, the family company delivers its creative, green products to customers all over the world.
The rural idyll fits in perfectly: Corthogreen is located in the middle of the countryside, surrounded by meadows and opulent nature on the outskirts of the small village, Gaanderen, just a few kilometres away from the German border. Everyone, who enters the grounds that are rich in plants, thinks he is on a farm. Indeed, the roots of the company lie in agricultural production – and they date back to the year 1888: “Corthogreen arose from the firm Bulten Zaden, one of the most traditional and leading seed manufacturers in the Netherlands,” explained Corné Huntink, who, together with his father Theo and his brother Thomas, make up the management of Corthogreen. “After Bulten Zaden had operated as a family business for around a century, the family no longer had a successor at the end of the 1980s. In 1993, my father bought the company that has remained a family business ever since.” Initially, Theo Huntink exclusively sold to the retail trade, however, after a while this turned out to be not so lucrative because the change of owners came at a time when the sales of seeds were on the decline – people preferred to purchase ready-grown plants from the garden centre. So, Theo Huntink decided to realign the company: In 2000, Bulten Zaden became Corthogreen, from then on the company additionally focused on the promotional products market. In the same year, the firm relocated from Aalten to Gaanderen. A little later Corthogreen exhibited at the PSI Show for the first time and today the specialist delivers to retail and B2B customers in Europe and worldwide. “Today, besides the Netherlands, our most important markets are France, Belgium and Germany,” explained Thomas Huntink. Whether geraniums, sunflowers or forget-me-nots, whether parsley, lavender or chives, whether cucumbers, chilli peppers or radishes – up until this very day the seeds and flower bulbs for the multi-faceted ideas among the Corthogreen collection are exclusively supplied by leading Dutch manufacturers. “We place great value on the highest quality and a high germination rate, after all our products are to enfold their promotional impact and not damage the reputation of the promoting company,” commented Corné Huntink. “All of the seeds we implement are certified by Naktuinbouw – the Netherlands Inspection Service for Horticulture. On request, we also offer organic seeds and also dispose of a corresponding certification of the Dutch government that allows us to store and further process them.”
Corthogreen is completely responsible for the packing and handling. In addition to two big machines for seed bags and sachets, which produce 10,000 or 4,000 pieces per hour respectively, the company’s machinery also includes cutting and blister machines as well as special machines for the production of seed tapes, which allow the seeds to be accurately planted in the flowerbed. One of Corthogreen’s particular specialities are seed mats: Two layers of paper are filled with seeds as required and then welded together, individually imprinted and brought into the desired form – besides a row of standard shapes own designs are also possible. In this way, printed messengers with growing contents are created, which decompose completely after being planted. “We are one of three suppliers in Europe, who produce seed mats, because the production entails a sophisticated procedure,” reported Thomas Huntink. “On the one hand, the seeds have to be evenly distributed and the layers of paper have to be firmly adhered, on the other hand one has to be extremely carefully during the subsequent printing process to make sure that the seeds aren’t damaged. In the case of small volumes, the paper is digitally imprinted beforehand, whereby the results don’t quite match the quality of the printing results achieved when the items are printed afterwards.” In addition to in-house packaging, Corthogreen also offers a host of other creative solutions – from terracotta pots to mini buckets and watering cans, through to different tins, boxes, mini greenhouses and baskets. “The same applies for all of the packaging options: They are diversely combinable and designable and as sustainable as possible. For example, we refrain from using plastic as far as possible and implement FSC-certified or recycled paper,” stated Corné Huntink. The company recently moved into an additional building measuring 1,500 m² in nearby Terborg. Besides the main warehouse, the building now accommodates the majority of the machinery as well as the machinery necessary for the pad-printing customising process that is offered for some packaging solutions. A further 1,000 m² of storage space is available in the neighbouring village, where the subsidiary Hupackso is located. Around 40 disabled people are employed there and it is also where the entire handling for Corthogreen and further external contractors takes place. “Thanks to our high capacities, we can also deliver large volumes,” said Thomas Huntink. “For instance we can manage up to 200,000 flower boxes in under two weeks. Furthermore, we are very flexible as far as special designs are concerned, which are standard for many of our customers.” “We have now created the basis for further growth with our new building,” added Corné Huntink, “and the right fertile ground for many further growing promotional ideas.”
// Till Barth
photos: Till Barth, ©WA Media (1); Corthogreen (2)