Claudia van Genugten
Ambitious entrepreneur and excellent team player.
“It takes strength to make valid decisions quickly.”
Claudia van Genugten, who’s an ambitious entrepreneur with a strong identity, grew up together with her five siblings in a real agricultural entrepreneurial family where things didn’t come easy. At a young age, she already worked in pig farming and her parent’s arable farm. After secondary school, she got agricultural education (MAS) and graduated at the age of 22. In her own words, she’s never really stopped learning; she finds new developments and methods very interesting and reads a lot about it in order to broaden her horizons. Now, Claudia has been working for more than 20 years and she’s confident in her active entrepreneurship. Together with her brother Ton, she successfully manages different businesses within the agricultural sector.
New methods and process improvement.
After graduating, Claudia started a full-time job at her father’s farm. She has also worked abroad during a period of her career. This way, she gained more experience from working at pig farms in Spain, Germany and a few other countries. She brought the international experience home and applied new knowledge in both business and personal life. In addition to running a successful business, she’s also busy with the development of new methods and continually improving processes.
Pig farms in Hungary.
In view of the above, it isn’t surprising that Claudia and her partner set up several pig farms in Hungary 15 years ago. And seeing as their farms supply approximately 60,000 pigs per year, people in this Eastern European region obtain great satisfaction from these food-producing farms.
“In this way, we provide a varied, substantial and positive impulse to a healthy food chain at the local market”, says Claudia.
Tontrans and Orgamex: nutrient processing and logistics.
With the expansion of pig farms, there’s now also a permanent demand for processing organic fertilisers and transport facilities. Hence Claudia and her brother Ton founded two new related companies called Tontrans and Orgamex in 2008. In the meantime, the combination of organic fertiliser separation and processing by Orgamex and the transport company have become main specialists within the agricultural sector in the Netherlands. But they’re also active in many European countries.
Not only does the Van Genugten Group run their successful pig farms, they also provide both manure separation and the removal and export of manure for fellow livestock farmers in Europe. A mobile manure centrifuge allows livestock farmers to separate manure on the spot. After separating, all that is left is a solid fraction and thin residual liquid.
Do you want to play a bigger game?
“Manure is brown gold.”
Manure is stored daily in the processing company in Bladel, where it’s processed into stable compost for arable farming. Composting is done batchwise by controlled biological heating and forced aeration in tunnels. After heating, the compost is kept at 70°C for at least one hour: the so-called pasteurisation. This eliminates any germs and weed seeds, creating a natural product that carefully follows the European export guidelines.
Claudia continues: “By means of a quality product, that’s ready to be transported to both national and international arable areas, livestock farmers and producers comply with European fertiliser processing obligations. That’s why we call manure brown gold.”
Making products from organic fertilisers: a new profession.
Claudia is proud of her challenging profession. “I feel at home in the agricultural ‘Man’s World’. My heart obviously lies with the agricultural sector. Making products from organic fertilisers is a new profession and my ambition and determination ensure that I’ll always rise to the top of my profession. I work diligently to run our family businesses successfully, but also to be a good chairwoman of DumiPro – the sector’s organisation. DumiPro’s starting point is to stimulate a professional agricultural sector that ensures efficient reuse of nutrients and organic substances. In this way, we contribute to (Dutch) government objectives for sustainability, the environment and circular economy. A better environment starts with yourself and I can use my knowledge, experience and insights to help find circular solutions and increase new developments. This gives me a lot of positive energy.”, says Claudia.
Fifty percent in and fifty percent to the company.
When asked how Claudia carries out so many tasks simultaneously, she says jokingly: “I’m often called ‘i-Claudia’, because it seems like I’m everywhere at the same time. But I work according to the division of 50% in the company and 50% to the company. This means I spend 50% of my time on the day-to-day business and the people within the company. Seeing as there are 42 employees and various teams, it’s necessary to use my available time properly and determine where I can be of most value. It’s important to include teams in my plans and hold efficient discussions with its members. In this way, I can run a successful business because everyone knows what we’re doing as a company and in which direction we’re heading.”
The other 50% of her time she devotes to the company. “By this I mean that my approach to important projects and business developments is well-organised: dossiers. Difficult projects ask for good teamwork, so I regularly involve others in larger dossiers. This allows us to share our point of views and find solutions together. We can learn from each other and team work also enhances one’s individual capabilities. This improves your employees’ work performance, and it motivates them. Moreover, it helps them to grow and develop.”
As a manager you should always remain switched on.
Claudia describes her management style as follows: “I care for my employees and I’m down-to-earth. I don’t hesitate before addressing either positive or negative impacts of certain aspects of a process. Being open to criticism is key to achieving the best results together. Good cooperation and limited risks. Everyone does what they’re good at and they’re given enough space to do so. It’s important to keep others on their toes, but also myself. As a manager, I want to set an example which others can follow.”
Communication is important: it’s about what you say and who you are.
Claudia says: “It’s important to respect everyone. It’s about what you say and why you say this. That’s what makes you either stronger or less strong. It gives a vivid description of who you are.”
Above all, the children should enjoy their childhood.
“It’s nice to see how my children Bart and Lotte naturally learn more about entrepreneurship. For example, they had already come up with the idea to sell cherries at such a young age. Grandpa was asked to pick the cherries. And together they went to the local greengrocer to see what cherries usually cost, this to determine their own price. It’s fantastic to see how they approach these kinds of ‘business’ ideas and it definitely brings a smile to my face. Somehow, they’re already learning a lot about entrepreneurship and this allows them to come up with their own ideas.”, says Claudia.
Claudia continues: “However, we’re not at all thinking about their future now, let alone a possible takeover of the family business. For now, they should both get the opportunity to enjoy their childhood and school time. And whatever they want to do in the future, will come into the picture when the time is right.”
“It takes strength to make valid decision quickly.”
Claudia says: “When I came into contact with Nils Janssens two years ago, I felt the need to spar with someone who sees things that I didn’t see myself. My question was: what can I do even better and how can I organise more efficiently to do whatever comes my way and make sure to achieve my goals?”
“After looking at myself in the mirror many times during a year of intensive sessions, I’ve grown even further in my role as manager. I now see more of what’s happening in my business and what people think without saying. And I can put that to good use in daily business. I also know how to set powerful goals and I’m better than ever at ensuring everything is well-organised before I make the right decisions. That gives me speed in practical thinking, and it ensures that I can quickly create frameworks. Not only is that good for myself as a manager, but also for the people in my environment.”, she said.
Claudia concluded: “This suits my business as it meets our most important core values: service and speed. Customers are king and we handle anything quickly and we just do it. I now see more of what’s happening in my business and what people think without saying.”
“I can easily determine where my company is headed and I notice what people are thinking without words.”
Read the story of entrepreneur Frans van Vijfeijken here.
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