58 Spring 2017
The Impact of Foreign Direct Investment
Report on FDI in Poland initiated by the International Chambers of Commerce in Poland
Bulletin Spring 2017 4
6 Interview Adam Czerniak on the Impact of Foreign Direct Investment in Poland 9
Remco van der Kroft
10 NEWS FROM THE NPCC 13 Interview
Pablo Montano - the power of corporate video
Contribution of the FDI to the Polish economy in the past quarter century
Kees van Rijn on flower market in Poland over 20 years
16 NEWS FROM OUR MEMBERS 18 NEWS FROM THE PLATINUM SPONSOR Column and news from Planet Car Lease 20 NEWS FROM THE EMBASSY 21 COLUMN
22 Interview Barbara and Martien Brink on the rewards and pitfalls of doing business in Poland
Kees van Rijn speaks about the success of Bart Kwiaty
26 NEWS MEMBERS 28 Interview
Goyello 10 years on the Polish and Dutch Markets
Planet Car Lease is a sponsor of Natalia Czerwonka, the successful Polish speed skater
Editor’s note Dear members and friends of the Chamber, As a Chamber, we are very pleased with our active circles in the regions. We have a branch in Łódź, which is run by regional chairman Jasja van der Veen, and also a branch in Poznań, led by regional chairman Tomasz Wielgus. In order to give entrepreneurs from that region a voice, I went to Poznań (Łódź is next on the list) for interviews with long-time entrepreneurs Kees van Rijn (Bart Kwiaty) and Martien and Barbara Brink (Inter-Car). Kees van Rijn talks about his flower business and he describes his early years in Poland, when it was much easier in a market with fewer players. And he also explains the current situation and the strong competition coming from the supermarket chains, which is putting big pressure on their margins. He talks about how he sees the opportunities for this very typical Dutch product in Poland and his approach to the challenges in the market.
Bulletin is the quarterly magazine of the NetherlandsPolish Chamber of Commerce. It gives a voice to our members and informs about the activities the Chamber undertakes. The views expressed in the columns are theirs alone. The editor in chief is not responsible for the accuracy and validity of the statements made by the columnists. Publisher: NPCC Managing Editor: Elro van den Burg Editor: Anna Kozińska Columnists: Huub Droogh Staf Beems Dirk Aarts Remco van der Kroft Photos: Elro van den Burg Netherlands Embassy in Poland Advertisement management: NPCC Contact: www.nlchamber.com.pl email@example.com +48 22 279 46 67
Martien and Barbara Brink told me about their difficult decision to move back to Poland at the end of the 1990s. It was a decision they had to take as it had proved impossible to become successful while still living in the Netherlands. It was simply too difficult to manage the culture differences when you don’t fully have your ears to the ground in Poland. But in Poland it still wasn’t easy and it took Martien some time to understand the Polish business culture. His wife Barbara, who participated in the meetings with him, only translated 20% of what he said. At a certain moment, he realised he was communicating too directly in client meetings and he needed to change his ways. He told us all about the change and what he gained from that. For us foreigners living abroad, Geert Hofstede’s books on the 5 cultural dimensions is compulsory reading to learn about culture differences. For me, however, the stories from entrepreneurs like the Brink family and Kees van Rijn are just as insightful and inspiring in our daily work. So look out for the next Bulletin, when we promise to bring you other similar stories from our members. Over the past month, we have seen some changes in the Chamber. Board member Jarek Skowroński had to resign from the board after taking up a new position in India, while manager Karolina Brudek-Sleegers gave birth to a son, Alexander, and left the Chamber to become a full-time mother. We thank both for their efforts for the Chamber and wish them the best of luck with the new challenges in their lives. Since January, Bas Brouwer has been back in our team again helping us with matchmaking from the Netherlands and in March we welcome Paulien Hofman as our intern. I wish them both a lot of success in their work for the Chamber. All the articles in this edition of the Bulletin are worth a read, as always, but I want to give a special recommendation to the article about the report on the investments of foreign companies in Poland. We initiated this report, together with the international group of chambers of commerce in Poland (IGCC), as we wanted to underline the importance of foreign investors in Poland, especially in current times. We are happy to say that the report will be presented during a conference at the Ministry of Regional Affairs and will be handed over to Deputy Prime Minister Morawiecki. You can read an interview with Polityka Insight’s Adam Czerniak, the author of the report, in this Bulletin. Are we getting it right? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org Elro van den Burg Managing Director of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce
OUR PLATINUM SPONSORS
Activities of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce
30 April 2017 King’s Day
7 March 2017 Business Drink
April 2017 Legal Morning with OKW
Warszawa - Katowice - Janki - Gdańsk
Time: 18.30-21.00 Location: Bawaria Motors Czerniakowska 47 Warsaw
Location: Poznań More info will be announced via our website
Location: Senator Building Bielańska 12 Warsaw
April 2017 Speed Business Mixer 9 March 2017 Speed Business Mixer Location: Poznań More info will be announced via our website
Location: Łódź More info will be announced via our website
9 May 2017 Business Drink 13 March 2017 Business Breakfast with new members Location: Warsaw More info will be announced via our website
Time: 18:30-21:00 Location: Hotel InterContinental Emilii Plater 49 Warsaw
6 June 2017 Business Drink 30 March 2017
L egal Morning with Jara Drapała & Partners Time: 09.00-11.00 Location: Senator Building Bielańska 12 Warsaw
Time: 18:30-21:00 Location: Hotel InterContinental Emilii Plater 49 Warsaw
28 September 2017 Speed Business Mixer Location: Kraków More info will be announced via our website
4 April 2017 Business Drink Time: 18:30-21:00 Location: Hotel InterContinental Bielańska 12 Warsaw
25 April 2017 Speed Business Mixer Location: Gdańsk More info will be announced via our website
September 2017 Annual Ball Location: Warsaw More info will be announced via our website
7 November 2017 Speed Business Mixer Location: Warsaw More info will be announced via our website
Please follow our NPCC website: www.nlchamber.com.pl for an updated calendar issue 58
Economist Adam Czerniak: “The build-up of capital in Poland was mainly driven by foreign direct investments”
NPCC initiates the report on FDI in Poland Polityka Insight, at the request of the NPCC and 13 other international bilateral chambers of commerce, has written an extensive report on the volume and effects of foreign direct investments in Poland over the past 15 years. Bulletin sat down with economist Adam Czerniak, author of the report. The IGCC together with the NPCC initiated a report on FDI in Poland, the level of which amounts to over 721 bln PLN over the past 25 years. Can you break this number down for us? “First of all, let’s take a look at where the foreign investments come from. There are two different ways of doing that. The first and most common one is to look at the immediate counterpart. Looking from that perspective, at number one is the Netherlands and number two is Germany, followed by the French, British and Italians. However, you can also look at where the capital comes from by pointing to the mother companies, which we call the ultimate counterparts. Looking from that perspective, the Germans are the most important investors in Poland, followed by the US and after that the French, British, Italians and Spanish, with the Netherlands in seventh place. However, the National Bank is still using the immediate counterparts as the reference because that is the most common way to show the statistics.” Polityka Insight used data up to 2015. Can you say more about what happened with FDI in 2016? “We couldn’t use 2016 in our report since we have only limited information from last year. According to data from PAIiIZ, the Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency, the value of the finished foreign direct investment projects in Poland increased to 1.7 billion euro from 800 million euro in 2015, which menas it more than doubled in 2016. This is still preliminary data, however, and we have
to wait a couple of months more for the National Bank of Poland to publish the official data.” Can you tell us something more about the fluctuations in FDI over the years? “We had two periods of increase in FDI inflow in Poland; the first period was between 1995 and 2000, when trade barriers were lifted and the Polish institutional system stabilised. As a result, many foreign companies invested in Polish companies or made some investments, especially in the consumer goods sector. They wanted to get into the Polish market because it is a large domestic market for different kinds of goods and they wanted to sell those goods without having to bring them in from outside Poland and also be able to control the marketing better. Poland at that time was still outside the European Union and it still had trade tariffs and red STRUCTURE OF INDUSTRIES ACCORDING TO THE VALUE OF FDI AT THE END OF 2015 Source: NBP
Production of energy carriers
3,3 % 3.8 %
Construction Information and telecomunication services
5.6 % 7%
Professional, scientific and technical services Support of the real estates' market
HOW DID THE INFLOW OF DIRECT INVESTMENT COME TO POLAND (CONSTANT PRICES AS OF 2010) PLN billion 70
Source: In-house materials based on UNCTAD, OECD and World Bank
PLN billion 800
Value of FDI capital, left-hand scale
Inflow of FDI, right-hand scale
tape difficulties, so it was better for foreign companies to be located here. All those foreign companies also helped to supercharge the privatisation process in Poland. You have to understand that in 1990 all companies were public but were slowly being privatised and we needed the capital for that. If it hadn’t been for the foreign investments, a lot of Polish factories would have simply gone bankrupt and would not currently exist.” For those readers who weren’t present in Poland at the beginning of the nineties, how did this work? “Poland did not have enough capital to buy all the companies that needed to be privatised. So if the state did not have the ability to run the companies and it was forced to sell without a buyer, the company would cease to exist and the whole capital would evaporate. Therefore, foreign companies brought both their knowhow and engagement for helping turn Polish companies into global value chains and they also brought the capital to maintain the assets that were already in Poland. That was the first period of large investment inflow, and the second large investment inflow was just after EU accession when all trade barriers were lifted and Poland became a member of the EU. This period has been called the investment blitzkrieg - a lot of foreign companies had already invested prior to 2004 and they were prepared for large investments after all the borders were opened. So this second boom lasted from 2004 until the global financial crisis, and around 100 billion PLN was invested in this period.” As chambers, we are very interested in the results of FDI inflow during the current PIS government since they used some strong words against foreign investors, especially at the beginning of their term of office. Is there any data showing the influence of that? “It is very hard to tell at this moment; due to the lack of data we can only make a judgment in a couple of years really, but please
remember that investment projects generally take some time to be realized. To learn more about the impact of the government change at the end of 2015, we will need some hard data from 2016 and also from 2017 to see if such a trend is visible. I do not expect a large change at this moment because large multinationals still value Poland as a very good place to invest with good labour quality, quite good and stable state institutions and good and respectively low wages considering the labour quality. Please remember that Poland is not a country with very low salaries such as India or China, but we are competing on efficient costs criteria. We are cheaper than Germany, but we can deliver and provide people that are of similar or only slightly lower qualifications than those in western European countries, so we are still attracting a lot of foreign companies. If we look at the data not only from 20162017 but also from 2014-2015, we must remember that there is a global slowdown of foreign direct investments especially during a time of looming protectionism from American or different sides, and companies are more inclined to invest in their country of origin. There is still some FDI inflow to Africa or South America but to Eastern European countries the inflow of FDI is slower, which influences the figures as well. So even though we have some weaker data from 2016-2017, this might be caused mainly by global trends and not domestic facts.” Can you tell us something more about the positive side effects that come from FDI? “I’d start with the productivity of the company. This was especially visible in the second half of the 1990s when there was a large inflow of FDIs, together with the foreign companies. They brought to Poland know-how, new technologies of production and, most importantly, access to foreign markets. If you bring some standards to production, with better quality and more efficiency for the company, then almost automatically you also provide access to foreign markets. Western companies, for instance automotive companies, invested a lot in Poland.
BRANCHES WHICH BENEFITTED MOST FROM THE INFLOW OF FDI Source: In-house materials
Sectoral structure of the inflow of FDI
Sectoral share of the increase in GDP as a result of the inflow of FDI
Take, for example, the FSO factory in Poland that was still present here in Poland in the 1990s but did not have access to the German and Italian markets until Fiat and Volkswagen invested here in Poland and then of course it got access to the European market. Apart from that, there are also some other spillovers and they are very important because when a foreign investment company invests, for instance in the dairy production sector, then it increases quality, which then increases competition because until that point everyone was producing low quality and everything was fine. But then when one company gains market share because it has high quality, the better quality is more effective and productive and the competitors also receive a big push. As in the pond, all the fish swim faster. So the quality was increased, not only in the same company but also in competing firms, especially in those which had a large investment in their recent development and were also focussing on foreign markets. Another spillover was the investment in human capital because the foreign investor of course trained his employees and they learnt the more sophisticated processes of production, better corporate governance and all the other factors that came with foreign direct investment. They later rotated and went to work for Polish companies and took that knowledge with them. And then there were the positive spillovers upward in the production process. Coming back again to the dairy sector example, I remember a company from the Netherlands which not only provided the market for Polish farmers to sell their milk, but they also provided investment loans for them so that they could invest in better milk-processing machines and also
vets for their cows to keep the animals healthy. So, at the same time, the technology is better as the cows are not attacked by different diseases.” What is true of the complaint against foreign investors that they come and take the money out of the Polish daughter companies they own? “Now, I must say that is not true. The majority of the money that the foreign companies earn in Poland remains here and is reinvested back into the companies. Maybe there were some single cases of a company that took money out of Poland, but it is not the rule, not at all. Almost all the companies, apart from those “black sheep”, care for their Polish company and want it to grow, as the company becomes more competitive and that is beneficial for both the mother and daughter company at the same time. Please remember that even if it is a foreign-owned company, the majority of people who work in the company, even on the board of the company, are Poles so it is still a Polish company but just foreign-owned. For instance, if we produce a Fiat in Poland, it is not produced by Italians but by Poles, who build it and export it. It’s just that the capital is owned by a foreign company. That’s a very important point.” If these foreign investors had not put their money in Poland, how would the country look nowadays? “We tried to calculate it and we worked out some numbers. I think that the most important one is that we currently have GDP at a 15.6% higher level than in the scenario where there were no foreign direct investments. So that is a large increase, and also very important is the fact that the build-up of capital in our country, especially in the 1990s, was mainly driven by foreign direct investments, and without that we wouldn’t have had a capital base for development. If you look at the potential of the economy, you look at the factors of labour, capital and total factor productivity. And foreign direct investments brought two out of these three. We had our own labour, of course, but they brought capital - almost half of the capital that was invested in Poland between 1999 and 2015 was brought by foreign direct investors. And I think they also brought productivity and the know-how to maintain the whole process, as I explained before. This is a permanent effect, and you cannot take it out. Of course, if foreign investors are getting out of Poland, then the capital will also be removed but the productivity increase and know-how cannot be removed. So the productivity effect is a permanent effect for the Polish economy, and this 15.6% additional GDP is something that will remain with us thanks to foreign direct investments.”
Column Remco van der Kroft Advocaat (Dutch licensed lawyer) and partner of Olczak-Klimek Van der Kroft Węgiełek
FROM THE CHAIRMAN This is the first time I have written my column in my capacity as chairman. I am very excited about my new role, which allows me to lead the ongoing efforts of the NPCC board to professionalise the Chamber and make what we do more meaningful and attractive to our members. You will not see any more of me though, but you will see more of Elro and his team. As a board, we have decided that the professionals should run the Chamber: we all have our own businesses to run. The board is there to advise, guide and supervise the work of the director and his team. One of the questions that I asked myself was whether I could continue to write my sometimes-critical columns in my new role. I believe not only that I can, but that I should. One of the raisons d’être of the NPCC is to represent the interests of Dutch businesses in Poland. It is in the interests of Dutch businesses if we point out the problems in Polish (proposed) legislation and even political rhetoric. This latter point is the reason why the NPCC, together with other members of the IGCC, published a report on the importance of foreign investment for the development of Poland (described in more detail on page 6-9), which will be distributed to our members, the press and representatives of the Polish authorities. During his visit to the Netherlands, Deputy Prime Minister Morawiecki talked about how he wants to make Poland more attractive to entrepreneurs. To this end, one of his ministries, the Ministry of Development, published the so-called “Constitution for Business”. This document contains a draft law - the Entrepreneurs’ Law - and a description of the principles behind this Constitution for Business. When reading through these principles, one can only feel positively towards it. With such a constitution, Poland must surely make up for this year’s fall in the Wall Street Journal’s Index of Economic Freedom when it fell six places from 39 to 45,
mainly because of positive developments in other countries, but also because it lost points in the ownership category, caused mainly by the law on agricultural land (the newly-introduced right to freely cut trees on one’s private property may make up for this next year). “The principle of freedom of economic activity”, “the principle that what the law does not forbid is allowed” and “the principle of assuming an entrepreneur’s decency” are already firmly guaranteed by the Polish constitution. However, there appear to be some contradictions with other measures taken by the Polish government and, in fact, some of the Business Constitution’s principles seem at odds with each other. There is nothing wrong with “the principle of the liability of civil servants for breaking the law” but ten years ago, when the Polish government launched a fight against corruption (again a very noble cause), civil servants became unwilling to take any decisions or even be seen talking to entrepreneurs (after all, doing nothing is not against the law in most situations), which resulted in unnecessary delays to many development projects. Again, the measures announced by the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Morawiecki’s other ministry, to improve the level of tax collection (e.g. stricter and more frequent tax controls) and the idea of punishing civil servants for acting against the interests of the state, appear perfectly legitimate. However, the pressure to get more tax money will make it very difficult for the same civil servants to adhere to the principle that “regulations should be interpreted to the advantage of entrepreneurs” or the principle that “assumes the entrepreneur’s decency”. The new tax rule, stating that it is no longer allowed to set up an otherwise legitimate tax structure with the sole purpose of lowering your taxes, seems contrary to “the principle that what the law does not forbid is allowed.” The principle of “proportionality” has definitely not been applied to the change to the Criminal Code (this time coming from the Ministry of Justice) which raised the maximum penalty for VAT fraud to 25 years’ imprisonment! “Making Poland attractive to investors” seems to be the shared goal of the bilateral chambers of commerce and the Ministry of Development. We should continue to support them in this effort by analysing all measures, both proposed and introduced.
This column is written à titre personnel and does not necessarily reflect the views of the NPCC board or its members. issue 58
news and events
Christmas Business Drink
Members Directory Booklet
The Christmas Business Drink attracted many guests
On 6th December, our members enjoyed a Christmas Business Drink at the Le Regina Hotel in Warsaw. The event, which capped a highly successful year, attracted over 50 participants. Our guests were welcomed by the Director of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce - Elro van den Burg - who officially introduced the new Chairman of the NPCC - Remco van der Kroft. The new Chairman’s speech underlined that the Chamber and its team are strongly focused on meeting the needs of its members and on working continuously on widening the possibilities and services that the Chamber is able to offer.
After a warm welcome, the guests had the opportunity to exchange their latest business experiences and establish new contacts, while all the time enjoying the Christmas atmosphere as well as the delicious food prepared specially for them by Le Regina. The event was co-sponsored by Arcadis, the leading pure-play global design and consultancy firm which provides consultancy, planning, architectural design, engineering and management services for the Infrastructure, Water, Environment and Building sectors. The second partner of the event was KLM, who prepared a special surprise for our guests by sponsoring tickets for two people from Warsaw or Kraków to Amsterdam as well as an elegant business travel case.
New Year’s Reception in Łódź
From left to right: Guusje Korthals Altes, Ilona Wiśniewska, Elro van den Burg and Anna Kozińska present the new edition of the Members Directory Booklet
After 4 months of preparations we finally finished the Members Directory Booklet and we were delighted to present it during the Business Drinks in Poznań, Łódź and Warsaw. Members reacted very positively and they were keen to take the booklet with them after the event. This is the second time that the NPCC has published a members directory. Approximately 2000 copies were printed and the NPCC will offer the booklet during all its meetings over the coming 2 years. The booklet is available on request via email@example.com
from Fortak and Karasiński also generously donated a bottle of top-quality whiskey and 5 hours of legal consulting from their law office free of charge. It all contributed to a highly successful networking event to open the next business chapter in Łódź in 2017.
An excellent turnout at the first Business Drink in Łódź in 2017
On 11th January, the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce organised a very well attended New Year’s Reception in Łódź. Among the 40 participants who attended were Deputy Mayor Mr. Wojciech Rosicki and Adam Pustelnik, Director of the Investor
Service and Bureau.
A highlight of the evening was a draw for 2 tickets from Łódź to Amsterdam sponsored by Adria Airways, while Sławomir Karasiński
During the event, guests had the chance to win 2 flight tickets from Łódź to Amsterdam from Adria Airways, and a bottle of top-quality whiskey and 5 hours of legal consulting from Fortak & Karasiński
news and events
Successful New Year’s Reception in Poznań
The Chairman of the NPCC, Remco van der Kroft, hands the new edition of the Members Directory Booklet to Ambassador Ron van Dartel
On 19th January, the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce organised together with the Embassy of the Netherlands the first Business Drink in Poznań in 2017. The New Year’s Reception took place at Concordia Design and gathered more than 50 participants, including members of the NPCC,
guests of the Dutch Embassy as well as representatives of the municipal government. The ceremonial welcome and toast was given by Ambassador Ron van Dartel, for whom it was the first opportunity to meet the Chamber’s business community active in the Poznań area. A speech was delivered by the Director of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce, Elro van den Burg, who presented the activities carried out during the last year in Poznań as well as the business plans for the coming period. Afterwards, a warm welcome was given to Tomasz Wielgus - the new Chairman in the Wielkopolska region - and his long experience and involvement in the Chamber’s initiatives will undoubtedly help to grow our regional branch. Closing the official part of the evening, Chairman of the NPCC, Remco van der Kroft, handed Ambassador Ron van Dartel a copy
of the new edition of the Members Directory Booklet 2016/2017. After the official part of the event, the guests were able to mingle and establish new business contacts, while also enjoying the delicious food and drinks prepared for this special occasion.
Participants engaged in a discussion during the New Year’s Reception in Poznań
Rewarding Business Drink in Warsaw Bristol Hotel, where guests were able to enjoy a selection of excellent food, the Dutch specialties - bitterballen, and a delicious Dutch cheese-tasting session by Królestwo Serów. A copy of the new
During the event, guests had the chance to win many interesting prizes
The Business Drink on 7th February was attended by 85 members and friends of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce. The event took place at the
Guests of the evening mingle and set up business contacts
edition of the Members Directory Booklet was given to Guusje Korthals Altes from the Netherlands Embassy. In addition, participants had the chance to win a 500 PLN voucher for the Brasserie Warszawska restaurant. During the NPCC board meeting that took place just before the business drink, we witnessed the arrival of Chancellor Angela Merkel at the same hotel for her meeting with Jarosław Kaczyński. It was extremely gratifying for us to see that so much is happening around the Chamber. The sponsors of the event were Kancelaria OKW, Brasserie Warszawska, Vesta Polska and UBP Consulting.
Legia-Ajax tickets sold out in minutes There have not been many times in the history of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce when we had such a big reaction as we had when we offered tickets for the match between Legia Warszawa and AFC Ajax in Warsaw. All 60 tickets were sold out within two hours.
Although the match itself on 16 February ended in a slightly disappointing 0-0 draw in bitterly cold winter weather, the chance to watch the game all together in the Legia Stadium was again a great networking opportunity for the members of our chamber.
NPCC members watching the Legia Warszawa - AFC Ajax football match
NPCC INITIATES Workshop video editing Practical beginners workshop for entrepreneurs, marketing and social media employees. You will learn about storytelling, practical camera instructions, video editing, formats and posting online. We aim for a low budget and work with the free program Adobe Premiere CS2. After the course you are ready to start making your own videos.
21.03.2017 • 28.03.2017 04.04.2017 • 11.04.2017 09.30 a.m - 11.30 a.m. Apply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
• • • • • •
Starting and Planning your project Adobe Premiere Pro Overview Adding music, titles and stills Rendering your project Basics for gathering your footage Exporting and Posting Online
• Costs are 125 pln per person for the complete course. We have limited places available •
What are the most common mistakes made by people working on video editing?
„No technology is better at evoking emotion than video” Pablo Montano was born in Bolivia and studied journalism and television production in the USA. He worked for Warner Brothers and the United Paramount television networks as Operations and Production Manager, where he gained extensive experience in producing news and sports casts, television commercials and entertainment television shows. Montano has lived in Warsaw since 2001, running his own video company, Gooday Films, which produces corporate videos for commercial companies and non-profit organisations. „I truly believe in corporate social responsibility. Earning money through my work is important, of course, but I always feel that giving back to society through my work is just as important.” Pablo Montano is currently a board member of the foundation Pablo Montano is currently a board member of the foundation ‘Education with Values’. What is the value of corporate videos and what is the advantage of video over text? Pablo Montano: “I look at a corporate video not only as a way of promoting a company or a new product, but I also try to use it in other areas of business, from training videos to events to live streaming. Over the past few years, the use of video has exploded across the globe. You see video on television, social media, billboards, text messages and all over the Internet. In my opinion, the advantage of video over text is that video is more persuasive and it is more effective to deliver a message through a speaker’s body language and verbal tone. To make decisions, the human brain requires emotional input, and no technology is better at evoking emotion than video.”
“First of all, poor planning and organisation. The editor must have a very clear vision of how the product should look from beginning to end. From a technical perspective, the three most common mistakes are: Flash Frame: It is a very short shot, usually one frame of a video or one frame of „empty” video between two clips. Jump Cut: An abrupt transition from one scene to another. Match Frame or Match Cut: When two shots that are similar in composition are cut back to back.” What makes a successful corporate video? “The success of most of the corporate videos I’ve produced throughout my professional career stems from the following: First of all, know your audience: carefully define your target audience and speak to them. Secondly, plan the whole project well: the video producers director, camera operators and editors - must have a very clear vision of how the video should look from beginning to end. Thirdly, the story should create an emotional connection. I mentioned earlier that to make decisions, the human brain requires emotional input. Therefore, if I want the viewer to watch and remember the message of the video, it has to connect with them on an emotional level. And finally, show, don’t tell. It is much more effective when I manage to show what the product or service can do instead of just talk about it.” What is needed for people who wish to participate in the video course you’re preparing for the Chamber’s members? “No specific knowledge about video production is needed; you just need to bring some patience and an interest in making videos. We will work with free-to-download software and provide you with a camera or, if you prefer, you can bring your own camera. We will focus on low-budget video production and we’ll be happy to advise you about which equipment will serve you best.” Why should our members follow the video course that you are going to give? “I was honoured to accept the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce’s invitation to share with you my knowledge on corporate video production. Through the video course, you will learn the basics of video production. You will learn how to plan, shoot, edit, upload and share your video. Thanks to the Internet, creating videos has never been easier. A quick Google search will instantly give you access to tools for editing and publishing your videos. Almost all social networks, including YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and LinkedIn, have made it easier to upload, view and share videos. Even if you decide not to make your company videos yourself, this course will help you work better with your media company. Thanks to this initiative by the NPCC, you and your company will have a great opportunity to learn more about the fascinating world of video production.”
Kees van Rijn:
“We will become more active in the regions” The company Bart Kwiaty Sp. z o.o. has been active in the import of flowers, plants and greens in Poland for over 20 years. During this period Bart Kwiaty has built up a very strong position on the Polish flower market and became a leading company in the sale of flowers with their wholesale network. Managing Director Kees van Rijn tells us about the current changes in the market. Can you tell us a little more about Bart Kwiaty? “Bart Kwiaty was established more than 20 years ago in Poland and it is a daughter company of the company Van Duyvenvoorde Flowers & Plants. For the last five years we have been part of the W.B.E. group in the Netherlands, which imports decorative greenery from all over the world. It is a strong combination since
we use the same administration and computer systems that they have in the Netherlands. Via this partner we import fresh flowers, pot plants and greens for the bouquets which we sell on the Polish market and especially on the wholesale markets. Besides that, for about 4 years now we have been offering transport facilities for a wide range of clients. This additional service makes us more than just an import company for flowers and plants.” Why did you begin this additional business? “We did it to improve profitability. We often had empty trucks going back to the Netherlands. Of course, we have to bring back the empty trolleys and flower buckets, but we can staple them and put them inside each other, which leaves at least three quarters of the truck free for another load.” Are you only looking for additional transport from Poland to the Netherlands or are you also looking for loads from the Netherlands to Poland? “We’re filling the empty space from Poland to the Netherlands, but we are also doing 2-way logistics for other companies that are
more or less in the same branch. We are also bringing lot of carton to the Netherlands . However, the main part of our activities is and will be the flower business.” Can you tell us more about the flower and plant business in Poland? “I can say that it is tough, because there is growing competition. First of all, as the Russian market has been declining rapidly over the last couple of years, other companies have been looking for new markets to replace the volume. Moreover, over the last 5 or 6 years we have seen a huge increase in flower sales in the supermarkets. They are well-organised and have their own distribution channels and sometimes contract directly with the growers. And what has changed as well is that the supermarkets sell flowers not only for special occasions, but all year round. So, although the volume of the market has increased over the last few years, the competition has increased too, which makes it more difficult to do business.”
else for their own clients. In Poland, however, there is a price limit above which our clients will not want to pay. If the product is more costly than that, they start looking for alternatives. It is not like in England on Valentine’s Day, for example, when the clients buy almost everything at any price.” You have been in Poland now for more than 20 years. How much has the country changed in that time? “It has changed a lot and it has been incredible to see that. The market has changed so much. The roads here in Poland have improved, which is important for our business. Many other things that have changed in a positive way , for example IT system and complete transparency in the market and many more products and services which are available now in this market. But if you are a smart businessperson, you will always find a way to sell something, here in Poland as well.”
And what is your answer to this growing competition? “We are well-organised and have a strong distribution system so we deliver 3 or 4 times per week to almost every client. In this way, our clients don’t run the risk of having too many goods in their warehouse. They can order 3 times a week so this gives us an advantage over other companies.” And what are your possibilities to play with the price margins? “We feel that the margins have been going down over the last year. As a reaction, we tried to increase the volume and also to get new clients. We look at each client individually to see if we can somehow serve them better, with a higher quality or a different variety of products. I am convinced that there is enough room for growth. But in order to achieve that, we will have to be more active in the regions and also maybe deliver directly to the flower shops instead of just to the wholesalers. With that in mind, we will sprepare a pilot scheme to find out if it makes sense to invest more in that.” What has been the impact of the internet on your business in Poland? “The impact is huge. Take a look at our location here in Złotniki. We have a warehouse for our products which was opened at the same time that we started in Poland, 20 years ago. At that time, we took the flowers to our warehouse and sold them at our own risk. Nowadays, it works completely differently as our clients buy directly from the auction or our web shop. We have only a little risk and almost everything we buy is sold directly. That is one of the positive changes that we have faced. We can react very fast to the demands of the client. They buy the goods one day, and receive them the next. Therefore the risk with this product is very low.” And what is a popular flower nowadays in Poland? “Roses are always the most popular flower, and this has been the case for over 20 years. And although this situation might not change so easily, I always try to educate my clients. Through our web platform, they have access to many thousand items where are also clients active from England, the Czech Republic, Russia, Spain, Portugal and so on, so there is a huge range of products they can choose from. I can see that they often want to try something
Kees van Rijn – Managing Director at Bart Kwiaty
How about the local Dutch community here in Poznań which is part of the NPCC? You were chairman of the community here for some time so how do you view it from your perspective? “I am happy that the new local chairman, Tomasz Wielgus, is trying to put Poznań on the map again. Poznań is a very important city for doing business in Poland and he is trying to make it more important within the Dutch community and not only. Last autumn he was in my office and we had a very good discussion about his plans and I support him fully in that.” And what about the programme that is planned for Poznań for this year? “The Dutch community in Poznań is quite diverse. Everybody has their own interests but I am very happy that, for example, this year we will have a transport seminar organised by the NPCC in our region which will be very interesting for a large part of the Dutch community. That is, of course, because a lot of Dutch companies in Poznań are involved in the transport sector. So I wish the new chairman a lot of success. And I am sure that he will succeed in his task to keep Poznań on the map as an important Dutch business community.”
from our members
Arcadis helps Polish cities prepare for climate change
The objectives of the project are to identify and analyse the challenges related to adaptation to climate change in cities; plan the actions required on a local level and indicate the sources of funding and also raise awareness of the need for adaptation.
Arcadis, the leading global design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets, announced in January that it will help 44 Polish cities adapt to climate change. Arcadis won the deal as part of a consortium which includes leading Polish governmental organisations such as the National Research
Institute of Environmental Protection, the National Research Institute of Meteorology and Water Management, and the Institute of Ecology in Industrialized Areas. The contract for the development of plans for adaptation to climate change for cities with more than 100 thousand inhabitants was awarded by the Polish Ministry of Environment.
The project will cover 44 cities in Poland with more than 100,000 inhabitants. Each city will be the subject of an individual assessment to determine its resilience, thus creating the basis for planning the adaptation measures to be implemented in that city. Project completion is scheduled for two years after the signing of the contract, and its value amounts to €5.8million.
Fresh Logistics celebrates 15 years of freshness Fresh Logistics was set up in 2002. Today, the company has 8 branches in Poland and employs over 600 people. It has 44,000 m2 of warehouse capacity and a fleet of 500 transportation vehicles.
are offered in Poland, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and the Baltic States and, thanks to the partnership with the European Food Network, products can also be delivered quickly and efficiently to customers all over Europe.
The services offered include groupage and FTL domestic and international distribution as well as contract logistics covering the transportation and storage of food products. As part of Raben Group, the logistics services for fresh products
Fresh Logistics Polska has been recognised many times, both domestically and internationally, with the awards received including the Best 3PL for Fresh Food Supply Chain in 2015.
Philips Poland to move into Symetris Business Park II in Łódź Philips Poland will occupy 4,000 sqm, which constitutes almost half of the Symetris Business Park II building in Łódź. A leader in technology, the company will expand its business with a new office located in the complex owned by Echo Investment. Philips has been present on the Polish market for almost 90 years. It is among the most recognisable appliance and electronics producer brands.
The company will move into the new space in Q4 this year and it has a guaranteed option for further expansion within the same building. Symetris Business Park, which is developed by Echo Investment, is currently part of the portfolio of Echo Polska Properties – a Dutch company and the new member of the NPCC operating on the basis if the REIT formula and investing in the real estate sector, particularly in retail, office and warehouse properties all over Poland.
The new business office of Philips Poland in Łódź
from our members
CityMotors – the new Volkswagen dealer in Tri-City The new authorized dealer of Volkswagen and Volkswagen LCV began its business activities in Gdańsk on November 28.
CityMotors is the latest dealership owned by PGA Polska Group, their 12th location, and it’s first dedicated to the Volkswagen brand. CityMotors
offers the full range of new Volkswagen cars and Volkswagen LCV, as well as attractive used cars and the full scope of after-sales service: mechanical service, body and paint repairs, parts and accessories, financing and insurance. CityMotors currently operates from ul. Jagiellońska 12a in Gdańsk, a location wellknown to Tri-City residents, and is planning an extensive investment in line with the brand’s standards to ensure the highest possible level of comfort for customer service. CityMotors is working hard to gain the trust and satisfaction of its customers quickly and for the long-term, as it aims to become a leader in the dealer network. For all dealerships in the PGA Group, quality and customer satisfaction are the key values. The Group’s many years of experience in the automotive industry and its stable development certainly provide a good foundation for the success of CityMotors.
The new car showroom of Bawaria Motors in Gdańsk
Randstad Poland receives Outsourcing Stars Award 2016 In the sector of modern business services, Randstad Poland is currently a leader in the HR / recruitment area. This is proved by the dynamic growth in the number of completed recruitment projects and its continuously expanding group of customers. These aspects were appreciated by specialists from the Pro Progressio Foundation, which gave Randstad the award of Outsourcing Stars in 2016. This prestigious award in the Business Process Outsourcing / Shared Services Centers sector was presented to Randstad Poland during a gala held in January. The contribution of Randstad to the development of this sector in Poland, and the promotion and integration of sector-related companies as well as its efficiency in attracting the best talents to the companies’ SSC/BPO were highly appreciated.
Leaders of the outsourcing industry
To have, or not to have;
that is the question! A new era of mobility is here. “To have, or not to have?” has become “Stand still, or move forward?” I used to have a neighbour. The town house I lived in as a young man was small enough to prevent anyone from simply blending in and everything out of the ordinary stood out. And my neighbour was anything but ordinary. He had a car that every 3 or 4 years he would trade in for a newer model. The car park in front of the house became the spot where one could gaze at the wonders of the automotive industry of that era. Our neighbour was always very proud of his car. Each vehicle was always purchased with his hardearned savings, insured, covered with a tarp and immaculately cleared of snow. A jewel in a private crown. The car was always parked in the same place. No-one else was ever able to park in that spot - the car would just stand there. It only left that spot once a year. During the holidays. It did almost 900 km per year, as our neighbour would always spend his holidays in the same location. Year in, year out, until the car was sold. And it was no easy thing to sell a car like that. Noone believed the mileage. Our neighbour was accused more than once of winding the clock back. Only 3500 km in 4 years. Then the ritual would be repeated after the sale. Our neighbour would take the money from the sale of the car, add further savings, and buy and insure the next. The merry-go-round had gone round again. A friendly taxi driver was perplexed: “Staszek, for a few hundred zloty, I’ll drive you to your holiday destination. You are letting a lot of money go up in smoke.” To no avail. The need to possess things was greater than his commitment to his savings or common sense. In contrast, my dad’s friend had a somewhat different approach. He would buy cars and drive them into the ground. Literally. Of course, this consumed the family’s entire savings. Rather than a new television, seaside holidays or his children’s education, the money was always spent on a car. Either purchasing a new one, insurance, or just keeping it on the road. One must have a purpose in life, isn’t that so? My dad’s friend was attached to his cars.
The cult of car ownership has survived to this day. Be it a reflection of your personality, something to emphasise your social status, something to be proud of, or a means to infuriate an envious neighbour. Just by looking at an analysis of the figures depicting the financial tools used to acquire cars, we can see our “oldfashioned” habits associated with possessions (cash, loans or leasing with low buyback value still dominate). We are willing to spend our savings or take out a loan just to possess something. Well, “mine” means something, doesn’t it? In the 21st century we are surrounded and inundated by the newest and constantly-changing tools to remain mobile and ways of being “online”. Tools which do not require of us to give up our savings, to take out loans or to weigh ourselves down with unnecessary ballast in the form of owning and using a car. And all that without giving up the benefits afforded by a car. From Uber through Carsharing, short and long-term car rental, to leasing with a high residual value with no obligation to purchase the car, with service packages etc. Everyone is able to match their mobility requirements with what the market offers. I rent a car. I drive a car which, if purchased, would consume all my savings or use up my entire credit limit. I do not have to worry about servicing it, insurance, its re-sale value... I just use it. Just as I do my telephone, computer, electric drill or lawnmower. I do not have such a deep longing to possess. I prefer holidays with my family, to have nice things, to spend time with friends rather than have “something to be proud of” parked outside or in the garage. The world is forging ahead so quickly. The prevalence of infrastructure facilitates relatively cheap travel to practically anywhere by train, bus or even plane. Using sharing systems we are able to rent a bike, scooter or car and pay for everything using our phone. For major communication requirements, rented cars are available at any time, for as long as we desire and, importantly, subject to flexible terms. We are becoming more mobile. Able to do more. More curious about the world. Artur Sudenis Commercial Director Planet Car Lease
Planet Car Lease relocates The Planet Car Lease team has just moved to their new location at Royal Wilanów, a high-quality and eco-friendly building that offers business, leisure as well as social space. Planet occupies 250 sqm on the first floor of the building, which includes an open space layout and a state-of-the-art lobby entrance with an impressive 3D logo behind the reception desk. The new headquarters are located in the heart of Wilanów at the intersection of ul. Klimczaka and ul. Przyczółkowa, which along with the City Hall marks the gateway to the city of Wilanów. Planet Car Lease invites its business partners for a friendly talk over a cup of coffee.
very pleased that we can help them achieve that goal. Furthermore, we are a Dutch company, as you can see in our logo and in how we have branded our office, but we also believe it’s important to put words into action and that is why we have decided to become the main sponsor of the NPCC for the next three years,” says van Vliet.
Sponsoring a champion skater Much has been going on at Planet Car Lease over the past few months. The company has become the main sponsor of Natalia Czerwonka, a Polish speed skater who participates in international competitions at the highest level. In 2010, she was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, an award granted by the Polish government for outstanding achievement. Natalia won the silver medal in the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014 and she continues to achieve very good results in the current skating season. Under the terms of the sponsorship, Planet Car Lease provided Czerwonka with a Hyundai Tucson crossover vehicle in return for having the Planet logo on her skating suit. “We decided to assist this talented professional skater with her mobility needs and help her in her daily training routine by offering her a lease car from Planet Car Lease. Both Natalia and we are very ambitious and we always do everything possible to achieve the best results. Therefore, we feel that we are a great match together,” says managing director Eric van Vliet of Planet Car Lease.
Main sponsorship of the NPCC Planet Car Lease has also decided to become the main sponsor of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce for 2017, 2018 and 2019. In return for their sponsorship, Planet Car Lease will receive prominent visibility at all events and in all publications of the Chamber. “First and foremost, the Chamber is doing outstanding work in helping Dutch companies do business in Poland. We are
Team of Planet Car Lease Artur Sudenis, Eric van Vliet and Koen Meynants
Planet Car Lease, which is fully owned by Planet Holding International BV, is a relatively new player on the market with 65 years of experience, expertise and focus on a personalised service in the automotive sector. It was established by three ambitious international entrepreneurs and specialises in full operational service leasing and other mobility solutions. Besides its headquarters and offices in the Netherlands, Planet Car Lease has developed an international partnership network within Europe and is one of the major players in Poland, providing a wide range of mobility services for a diversified client base. Depending on the client’s specific requirements, Planet Car Lease can propose optimised mobility solutions from vehicle selection to adapted management tools. With customer satisfaction always the main objective, Planet Car Lease provides cost-effective fleet management and consistently high levels of services across all countries. Planet Car Lease Business Mobility solutions are tailormade to meet specific customer requirements. With such a wealth of experience and expertise, it makes sense to turn to Planet Car Lease to provide a fully outsourced solution for your asset management and employee benefits needs.
Moving Moments Bulletin
News and Activities from the Embassy of the Netherlands Dutch Railway visit to Poland (25-26 January 2017) Polish railway lines as well as the formal procedures of introducing railway products on the Polish market.
A group of Dutch companies specialized in products and services for the railway sector, visited Warsaw to explore business possibilities on the Polish market.
On the second day, the Embassy arranged a meeting with representatives of the Polish Railway Chamber, who offered individual support to Dutch entrepreneurs.
At the conference, organized by the Dutch embassy, Dutch guests had the opportunity to meet important stakeholders in this sector and to get more acquainted with current investment plans of the
Polish Interest in Dutch manure products At the invitation of a number of Dutch companies, the Office of Manure Outlet and the Dutch Embassy, a group of about 25 Polish farmers, information officers and policy makers visited the Netherlands. They were there to find out more about Dutch manure products and manure processing techniques. It gave them the opportunity to
see how the Netherlands apply high-tech solutions to produce manure products that could fit in the Polish agriculture as well. Because of the high grittiness of the Polish soil, the quality of this soil is lower than in most other countries. The organic structure of manure, an important added value of
organic manure, is therefore particularly important. “We need organic manure in order to regain a healthy soil which is full of life” according to one of the participants. The visit was a follow-up of a previous visit by Dutch manure processors in 2016.
More information can be found at http://polen.agroberichtenbuitenland.nl/polen/poolse-interesse-voor-nederlandse-mestproducten/
Going Circular? Mediatrip to the Netherlands The government-wide program for Circular Economy indicates the importance to put the Netherlands on the map as a circular hotspot.
The Netherlands has an ambitious goal: by 2050 the Netherlands’ economy should be fully circular. In a circular economy we deal with resources in a smarter way, we will use and consume as little as possible and we will maximize the reuse of raw materials. Nothing is thrown away or incinerated.
A delegation of Central- and EasternEuropean media with a vast Polish majority paid a visit to the Netherlands between 8 and 10 February. We wanted to show how Dutch companies develop and implement innovative solutions in order to make the step from a linear economy towards a circular economy. The trip included several visits to companies and organizations active in the field of circular economy. Initiatives such as Uit je Eigen Stad (Urban Farm) gave presentations, visits to circular entrepreneurs and companies such as Sympany (textile waste issues) were paid, and Professor Frank van Oort from the Erasmus University gave a lecture about
Circular Jobs. The media trip is part of a series of activities in the field of Circular Economy. In October 2016 the Embassy organized, together with the city and the Jagiellonian University of Krakow, the event ‘Cities of the Future: Smart & Sustainable.’ In the beginning of this year, the ministry of Environment visited Poland to discuss co-operation in this field and a mission of government, companies and knowledge institutes will visit Poland before the summer. The journalists were very enthusiastic about the innovative approach of all companies and partners visited. There is a growing interest in the subject here in Poland. We hope the publication of inspiring articles will further contribute to bilateral cooperation and business opportunities.
Column Staf Beems Entrepreneur and owner of Silesia Consulting
2017 - Year of Hope? I am sitting on the terrace of my hotel in Sikasso (Mali), busy helping a local company to develop their business. I am also thinking about my „tough job” - the new column for this magazine. What will be my subject this time - Polish and Dutch politics in 2017? Why not? Curiously enough, I can draw a parallel. At this moment, 3500 Dutch soldiers are active in Poland for a training exercise and in Mali 350 soldiers are trying to stop the IS advance in the region, which is currently practically in my backyard. Whoever could have predicted this news 10 years ago would probably have won the Lotto as well. In De Volkskrant of February 8th, I read a letter from the Polish Ambassador to the Netherlands, Jan Borkowski. The letter was headed: „Will the Netherlands long for the Poles again at any time?” This could become reality as we have a Dutch government that is not able to motivate unemployed Dutch people to take a job. Meanwhile, the Polish government is having difficulty in creating jobs for its own citizens. The exodus to Western Europe started during the first period of PiS/Kaczyński rule and Borkowski continues with the comment that he hopes that the Poles will return to their native country. However, let me start where I ended last time. I do not often get reactions to my column but this time I felt proud that I got so many mails. It is not that I need compliments, but it feels good that people are reading my contributions. I am under no illusions that my text will change relations between Poland and Holland but, like many politicians, as long as you repeat your message often enough, people will start to believe it. In the February 7th edition of Algemeen Dagblad, Mark van Assen wrote an article about Poland, with the opening sentence: „Is Poland on its way to a dictatorship?” Yes, Mark! But, my dear Mark, democracy was invented to give every citizen the feeling that their vote can influence the situation in their country. Polish voters decided for PiS; in other words, Poland has a legal dictatorship! I do not understand your indignation. France with Hollande, America with Trump, Hungary with Orban, the UK, to name just a few of the most striking examples, all also had/have an absolute majority after an election and they can govern their country as they think best for them and for their customers (voters).
Moreover, PiS did what they promised and their customers are happy with a retirement age of 65 (men) and 60 (women) and - in view of the poverty in Poland - a children’s allowance as of the second child of PLN 500 monthly. Whether this will be financially sustainable in the long term is, of course, the question. What strikes me - not only in Poland - is that the opposition does not present an alternative. When you occupy parliament, you must have a plan. When you criticise the government, you have to come up with a better solution. But what is my observation? It is not for nothing that you were the losers and ended up in the opposition. And again, it is not only a Polish issue. Le Pen, Wilders, Clinton, Schulz and Asscher have also all shown why they are/were/will be the losers. Make a programme and do not promise things which you cannot achieve! One important issue which makes me very happy is the stand against the EU and the European Parliament. The 751 Members of Parliament who have not created any law of which we could be proud, unless you are happy with a new law for vacuum cleaners. Even putting forward a proposal that all cars in Europe should drive with full headlights on is too difficult for them. What can you expect from these chosen parliamentarians, paid by the taxpayers from their own country, who refuse to justify their monthly expenses allowance of Euro 4000? Nothing, alas. Do we realise that the total amount involved is „only” Euro 36,000,000? Let us not talk about their salaries and pensions. Jarosław Kaczyński, you could be my hero if you are able to change this disgusting system. And please, dear Jarosław, veto the re-election of Donald Tusk. It could be the start of something big! Koenders, the present Dutch Foreign Minister, last week made the suggestion that the European Parliament should be reduced by 50%, but he was laughed at. What we miss in this world are quality politicians with a message, a vision and the will to create a normal world. It is so easy to criticise the political situation in Poland but some self-reflection would do no harm. Politicians have not only lost contact with their customers, but they even show them disrespect. Rutte and Wilders refused to attend a political debate - the ultimate moment to talk to your customers, to present your plans. Rutte definitely did not learn this when he was with Unilever, but maybe Unilever was happy he left them. I also recall an experience during the Forum last year in The Hague. I was shocked when one of the speakers/politicians suggested during a drink that Putin would invade the Baltic States before the end of the year (2016). It’s not true yet - fortunately - the speaker does not understand that these so-called politicians would not strengthen NATO and pay for it. Maybe this is a job for the European Parliament - if I may make a suggestion - or are they too busy travelling and counting their money? Do not talk (nonsense) and scare us, but take action. However, as always I am an optimist. When I was a child, my father put up on the wall this proverb: IMPROVE THE WORLD BUT START WITH YOURSELF. 2017 should be a year of tolerance, compromises, common sense, respect and no more empty talk. Communication - exchanging opinions with anybody, black, yellow or white, Catholic, Protestant or Muslim - is the only tool that can change the world. At least that’s what I believe.
A tale of conquering the market with quality Business owners Barbara and Martien Brink talk about their company Inter-Car, and about the rewards and pitfalls of more than 18 years of doing business in Poland. It doesn’t take Martien Brink much time to recall the date when he and his wife Barbara decided to concentrate 100% on their business in Poland. “It was February 1998,” he says with a cheerful smile. It was not an easy decision to make, however, as the couple had been living in the Netherlands for nine years and were well settled there. Barbara, especially, was reluctant to come back to her mother country. Previously, Martien had served their clients in Poland from their base in the Netherlands. “It wasn’t the language, because the people spoke perfect German, but I didn’t understand the culture”
says Martien. “When I explained to our staff our vision of long-term relationships with our clients, or the green and innovative solutions that we offer, they just didn’t get it.” His wife Barbara adds: “When Martien was in Poland, there was no problem, but when he left for the Netherlands they fell back into their old habits.” Martien and Barbara had to choose between staying in the Netherlands and accept the loss-making business abroad, or move to Poland to focus fully on this country. They chose the last option, which was not a bad choice. Nowadays, the company, which consists of eight people, is recognised as a quality brand in its markets and is a market leader with certain brands. What is the difference between the Polish and Dutch markets? MB: “At the moment, I don’t see any differences in our markets, but when we started out in Poland many of the insulated trailers were built on old technology. Therefore, we introduced a flexible sustainable bonding solution, which meant we could increase
the quality and production speed by 40% without making any additional investment. It was an uphill battle to convince our clients and prospects about the new solution. Especially because at that time there was not a big pressure to lower labour costs and also production speed was not a big issue. Our clients, the constructors, were still convinced that mechanical fasteners were the best solution for their constructions. Moreover, using our materials could have a big impact on production. We often had heated discussions with clients who were afraid of having to rearrange their production or let some of their staff go. It was an uphill battle. We showed them how to apply the new technology and also invited prospects to trade fairs and to providers in the Netherlands and Germany. But all the effort paid off. Today, 90% of all insulated trailers are bonded.” Why did you keep to your strategy not to change the price in such a price-sensitive country like Poland? MB: “I was, and still am, convinced about the growth potential in this country. At a certain moment in time, we wanted to achieve faster turnover growth. However, I refused to make changes to our longterm vision. We decided to stick to the higher quality at the expense of faster growth with lower quality and prices. Instead, we added different products to our portfolio and by doing so we realised the turnover growth that we needed.” Martien walks over to a drawer and shows us part of a sandwich panel that his costumers produce. It consists of several layers of polyester, styrofoam, plywood and adhesives. Gluing the parts together is a difficult technique and when not managed well, you can get bubbles in the panel. As a result, the trailer has to be taken back and the bodywork has to be assembled again, which is a very costly operation. The production process is complicated and especially when the components are bought from different sources it is sometimes impossible to find out where the mistake is. As it is so difficult to trace the root cause, some body constructors I know have gone bankrupt as a result. Martien: “I wanted to find a good solution for this issue so in 2004 I sat down with our suppliers Bostik adhesives (Arkema group), Flexline (laminate), Dow Chemicals (styrofoam) and Duraply (plywood) and we came up with a solution for this. In previous times, to produce a sandwich panel our clients needed to source 4 different suppliers. Today, Inter-Car offers a one-stop-shop service and delivers all the materials that are needed to produce the panels. We offer our clients one contact, one technical support, one delivery and one invoice. All materials are tested by several suppliers and ensure that we always deliver the right products. We support a wide range of bonding solutions and always analyse the production of our clients.
own green philosophy. All our office supplies are based on recycled materials. Transport to clients is made more efficient and therefore lowers our ecological footprint. Also our building, which was constructed in 2013, offers excellent lambda values. The facade of the building is fully constructed of glass and so we don’t use artificial light. The heating system is fully automated, which results in lower consumption of electricity, the toilets are flushed without water and rainwater is collected on the roof and used in our garden.” How is the division of tasks in the company between you and your husband? BB: “We both have different tasks but the most important business decisions, such as large investments, are made together. I am focussing on financial matters and Polish law, and also HR issues and all payments. Martien is responsible for product and business development and sales. Our cooperation is very spontaneous and very logical. In the early years, we often went together to meetings but at that time I felt I couldn’t translate all the words Martien said. His approach was very direct and not always what the client wanted to hear. Over the years much has changed, both from the clients’ side, and also from Martien. He has been Polish-ified over the years.” For example, when we went to our clients in the early years to offer them our bonding solutions, Martien often asked about their other providers or sometimes walked around their production areas. In Poland, companies are not used to that approach. That is a significant difference with the Netherlands. In order to give good advice, we need more details from the client but Polish companies need more time before they will show you more of their operation. But although Polish clients needed more time, Martien sometimes would keep pushing for this information. That is why I had to tone down his words and not translate everything he said.” Martin Brink adds: “Sometimes we make a business decision and decide not to cooperate with a certain customer if they push too much on the price. We represent a valuable company and product and we want to cooperate with clients who understand that. There is no point in going to endless meetings that are focussed only on the lowest prices. In such a case, you have to protect yourself. And although not everybody liked that in our company, I refused to let our staff go to those meetings. It’s not that I want to sound arrogant, but what is important for me is that we protect ourselves from those clients who don’t fit our culture. And Polish companies respect this. Indeed, some of them we had to let go and others returned to us because they recognised our long-term strategy.”
However, that is not all. Together with our suppliers from all over Europe, namely Arkema Bostik adhesives, Flexline flatsheet laminate, Dow XPS Styrofoam, MRF locks and hinges, Flexfoam (PET) and fast towel cleaner (private brand), we are continuously offering lightweight innovations in the market. We have introduced a much thinner polyester board which offers good solutions for frozen transport and we also use PET foam materials coming from PET bottles for the framework of the bodywork of the trucks. As a result of the weight gain, more goods can be loaded, they are more efficient and have lower CO2 emissions.”
What advice would you give to other companies that are struggling with their business in Poland?
The product you offer helps your clients to be environmentally friendly. How about your own company?
Making money happens outside, when you meet with your clients. That is where you can make a difference. Also, the Dutch are traditionally very good at offering services to clients. That is how you can make the difference here in Poland. At least that is how we do it and we see that the market values this approach.”
MB: “If your product fulfills all the conditions for a company to go green, we can’t stay behind ourselves, and that is why we have our
MB “I see many companies nowadays that are having problems in getting their business off the ground here in Poland. They are struggling and can’t find the right approach. They are often lost in writing reports about meetings that need to be sent to their headquarters abroad. That is an issue for multinationals. They are focussing on the organisational side of things but they forget that you don’t make money from making strategies.
An unforgettable evening to connect with your top clients, to underline company milestones and a great way to reward loyal employees.
Individual tickets: eventim.pl VIP and B2B packages now available! For offers contact email@example.com “The most interesting set of artists invited to the Night of the Proms so far” Gazeta Wyborcza – styczeń 2017
Warszawa – Torwar
25.03.2017 Łódź – Atlas Arena
Polish partner knows the rules and it’s easier for them to integrate into Polish society. We advise large companies to first come and live for a while in Poland and not only in the large cities. Participate in spontaneous meetings with Polish people, listen to what they want and what they don’t want, and what they think needs to be improved in this country.” Martien Brink: “And also don’t expect good results when you manage your company from the Netherlands and you’re on-and-off in Poland. This will never result in the expected performance. Especially the SME sector should stay very close to its staff and stakeholders. It will cost you time, and it will be difficult in the beginning, but I am convinced that this will bring results in the long term. And then there are still companies that don’t want to manage and believe that people have to develop themselves that will fail here. It makes no sense to let the people just swim. People have to do the work themselves but you will notice much better results when you help and control them just a little.”
Barbara and Martien Brink owners of Inter-Car
And how about your staff? Is there a silver bullet to the success? MB: “Our staff is the biggest capital that we have at Inter-Car. Staff development is a big motivator and it creates very good results for all of us. I personally believe it’s very important to feel that going to work is a pleasure. We offer a healthy workplace and job security so our staff can count on us. Furthermore, as turnover grows, the staff also profit from this so they have the possibility to invest in themselves. And when it comes to culture differences between Poland and the Netherlands, I have learned over time that hierarchy is an important element in our office and at the same time we should do the work together and always have an open discussion about doing business. Furthermore, I see to it that our staff members have the feeling that they have created something by themselves in our company. That is very important and much more rewarding than a direct salary.” Are there any challenges in your company? MB: “What I notice, and what I am quite critical about, is that we have a very motivated and very strong team. I don’t have to be a very active as a manager because things are well organised and we know what we can expect from each other. However, since we are working in a small group, the integration of new staff members can be a challenge. Larger companies and B to C companies have it much easier because when a new staff member doesn’t function, the slack is taken up by the larger group more easily. With us, however, we have a significant disruption. In fact, we really don’t have time for that, which makes us vulnerable in a way. And what is your advice for mixed nationality business couples in Poland? Barbara Brink: “I see that mixed couples have it much easier in business than when both partners come from the Netherlands. The
Who is Inter-Car Inter-Car is a total solution provider for the automotive and maritime industry, giving added value to all its business partners, and it is a market leader with some of its brands. Inter-Car delivers components (semi-finished products) for the production of insulated trailers, bus, tram, train, yacht and special vehicle builders but it also has other clients such as the tyre producer Michelin. The company started as a wholesaler of Dutch adhesive sealant solutions from a company named Bostik. These solutions are mainly used for body work and trailer assembly but also in the shipbuilding industry, where Inter-Car offers solutions for all joints. After several years of operating in Poland, Inter-Car decided to increase its product line with components for the production of insulated sandwich panels made from polyester with polystyrene foam which is used in trailers and also special roof polyester used in buses. Inter-Car is the top innovator in its business and quality is the highest priority for the company. Longterm cooperation with clients and providers is a precondition for finding innovative bonding and sealant solutions and for helping clients avoid any potential problems.
Barbara Brink: “But people shouldn’t think that it was an easy journey. The first three years were an uphill battle for us. Only after those three years did we see some tangible improvements in sales. We had our moments when we wanted to leave the country. We started doubting the market in that first period.” Martien Brink: “We are successful now because we have been patient, and because we kept to our long-term vision and also because we have educated our staff. We involved them in the process and gave them responsibility for the processes in our company. That made them very satisfied. And when you have all that in place, you can still generate good profit here in Poland. Generating profit is much easier than in the Netherlands.”
New members of
the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce
Dutchables Dutchables is a Polish company with an extensive knowledge of the business environment in both Poland and the Netherlands which facilitates perfect communication in Dutch. We provide translation services, and we bring businesses together by supporting Dutch companies in doing business in Poland and helping Polish companies to find their way in the Netherlands. We are: Dutch – because of our affinity with the Netherlands – and able – because of our knowledge, skills, passion and expertise in the areas of (amongst others) project management, sales representation, translation and communication services. Dutchables ul. Drzymały 36/1 47-400 Racibórz firstname.lastname@example.org +48 32 740 91 93 www.dutchables.eu
Jara Drapała & Partners Sp.k. We are a specialist, independent law firm focused on achieving our clients’ business goals. For more than ten years, we have been successfully advising multinational and Polish entrepreneurs - leaders in their respective industries. We provide assistance to clients in complex projects which require expert knowledge. We combine experience and efficiency and provide legal services of the highest quality with flexible fee arrangements. Due to the fact that we have a long-standing working relationship with the most reputable foreign law firms, in particular firms located in the German-speaking economic area, we are able to work on projects across Europe. The quality and efficiency of our legal services is confirmed by the list of clients who have put their trust in us, as well as by recommendations in respected international and Polish rankings. Jara Drapała & Partners Sp.k. ul. Bonifraterska 17 00-203 Warsaw +48 22 246 00 30 email@example.com www.jara-law.pl
EBI Systems Sp. z o.o. EBI24 is a multifunctional system for managing documents in your company. It connects business and accounts by creating a global network of cooperation. The ability to integrate with accounting systems makes EBI24 an effective tool to optimise costs and time in an enterprise. We support companies in the following areas: 1. issuing e-invoices and other documents 2. electronic document management by assigning them to specific projects 3. providing different levels of permissions depending on needs 4. electronic archiving of documents – in a clear, orderly manner which ensures they can be retrieved quickly. EBI Systems Sp. z o.o. ul. Kochanowskiego 8A/21 01-675 Warsaw +48 22 120 20 01 firstname.lastname@example.org
Królestwo Serów We are a Polish company aiming to develop the culture of Dutch cheese consumption in Poland. We buy our cheeses directly from Dutch suppliers and offer them to our Polish customers. For us, the most important thing is to provide the Polish market with only the best products from Holland, helping Polish customers to eat properly and appreciate our clients’ cheeses. Królestwo Serów ul. Chałubińskiego 9 lok. 2 02-004 Warsaw email@example.com
New members of
the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce
Echo Polska Properties N.V.
Echo Polska Properties is a Dutch real estate investment company that follows the REIT formula, investing in commercial office, retail and industrial properties throughout Poland.
Certes Finanse is a provider of financing for companies on the Polish market. Depending on our clients’ needs, we offer a comprehensive service of financial possibilities, including:
With a current portfolio that includes ten offices and eleven retail projects totalling GLA 636 170 m2, our initial portfolio is highly diversified: the buildings are located in thirteen major cities across the country, characterised by their strong economy and purchasing power, and their ability to attract international investment interests.
Financing: current financing of a company, investment financing, financing of Public Procurement, financing with EU sources, factoring for companies and the public sector
Our goal is to create Poland’s leading, cash-generating platform of well-performing office, retail and industrial assets that will deliver consistently high returns to our shareholders throughout Central Europe, especially Poland. Echo Polska Properties N.V. Prins Bernhardplein 200 1097 JB Amsterdam 22 430 03 00 www.echo-pp.com
Leasing: (operational / financing / return lease) - we can lease vehicles (cars, trucks), manufacturing equipment (for the building and production sectors), medical equipment, measuring devices and properties. Why is it worth cooperating with us? Our knowledge of leasing and credit procedures saves time for our customers and allows us to achieve the stated goal in the most effective way, with complex service during the agreement – and one phone number. Who are we looking for? Dealers of machines and devices – leasing for their customers, companies from the production sector – leasing of vehicles and machines which a company needs to operate, anybody who wants to buy a vehicle or machine on leasing. Certes Finanse ul. Słoneczna 34 05-220 Zielonka firstname.lastname@example.org www.certesfinanse.pl
Randstad Polska Sp. z o.o. Randstad is one of the biggest HR agencies on the Polish market. We support our customers in the selection and employment of temporary staff, the recruitment of permanent staff, including specialists in finance, IT, engineering, and recruitment, payroll administration and HR documentation outsourcing. Randstad consultants in nearly 120 local offices in Poland carry out more than 1,700 permanent recruitment projects annually and provide a daily average of 26,000 temporary workers to our customers’ sites. Randstad experts also have knowledge of the local labour markets and the most important trends in the global HR market and they are eager to share their experience with Polish businesses. Randstad Polska Sp. z o.o. Al. Jerozolimskie 134 02-305 Warszawa 22 274 10 02 www.randstad.pl
Warung Jakarta Warung Jakarta is the first authentic Indonesian restaurant in Warsaw. We serve a selection of food from the entire Indonesian archipelago. We are a small piece of Indonesia in Warsaw’s city centre. Warung Jakarta ul. Piękna 28/34 00-547 Warszawa 22 307 24 25 email@example.com www.warungjakarta.pl
Goyello - 10 years on the Polish and Dutch markets Arie de Bruin:
“The opportunities for us are endless” Can you describe your Goyello journey? “It’s been ten years of challenges, pioneer work and professionalisation. The beginning was particularly tough due to the global credit crisis that began in 2007. Indeed, it forced us to shift our focus from the Netherlands to other countries. At the same time, we needed to invest in a new office in 2010. We’re going to relocate to an even bigger office in 2017 in order to facilitate our continued growth. We’re currently extremely busy with the further internationalisation of our company.” What factors are likely to influence Goyello’s direction over the coming 10 years? “There are several developments that will affect our future: First of all, further globalisation will lead to new opportunities for growth. Secondly, the speed with which the business world is evolving demands rapid adaptation using smart technology solutions. I also foresee that legacy systems, which are outdated computer systems, will present huge issues for large businesses. Adapting to new generation software will be an exciting challenge for them. And finally, artificial intelligence is approaching quickly. Machine learning is already a reality for a number of customers so the opportunities for us are endless.” What’s the greatest misconception about IT companies such as yours? “The assumption that Poles don’t make good knowledge workers is a big mistake. The fact that Poland won an international computer programming contest in 2014 is an excellent example. Another misconception is the potential barrier of the Polish language. Our Polish employees speak very good English. That is because we’ve been investing in them for 10 years. As a result, communication barriers with our customers simply don’t exist.”
Goyello - 10 years on the Polish and Dutch markets Over the past 10 years Goyello has developed into a successful company with three offices in the Netherlands and Poland, and more than 110 employees and customers across several continents. Bulletin asked the company’s founders, Arie de Bruin and Peter Horsten, about the secret to their success.
“Analysing our clients’ challenges” Can you describe your business in one sentence? “In one sentence it would be: Fulfilling our clients’ needs by utilising user-friendly digital solutions enabling them to really benefit from IT. And in some more words: Today’s world is developing at breakneck speed. People can no longer oversee all the different innovations so we support our clients in analysing their challenges. If a software solution is the right direction, we help them to find the optimal solution which will provide them with as much business value as possible.” What is your goal in the next 10 years? “One of our goals is to enable our staff to develop themselves thanks to interesting and challenging international projects. Another is to make more clients successful. We will be known as a partner that thinks together with the client about how to make their business perform better.” What do you like most about Goyello’s culture? “First and foremost, I want to mention the friendly atmosphere in our offices. In addition to that, the professionalism and willingness to help, knowledge sharing, quality awareness and mutual respect are all essential ingredients of our company culture. Another important aspect is having fun together. Colleagues are increasingly playing sport together, or meeting after work to play a board game or cards. Last year we completed a triathlon together and took part in several biking and running events. Even some of our clients have started joining us, which proves that our effort rubs off on others as well.
Column Huub Droogh Huub Droogh is an urbanist and president of RDH Architekci Urbaniści in Poznań
POZNAŃ, WIELKOPOLSKA - EUROPE Creating an enemy on the outside to distract attention from one’s own issues is a tried-and-tested old strategy. Nowadays, the enemy in most European countries is called Brussels. And by ‘Brussels’ politicians mean the European Union. National politicians from most European countries seem to agree about one thing: Europe is to blame. A weak Euro exchange rate: it’s the fault of Europe. The Euro too strong to support exports: Europe. Immigrants: Europe. Too high taxes: Europe. Too high national debt: Europe. No possibility to increase the national debt: Europe.
not able to cooperate with each other anymore. History has proved that internal disagreements, linked with a missing willingness to share and to cooperate, are effective instruments to ruin prosperity. Over the last decade, lots of European countries have faced a serious decline in their number of inhabitants. Greece, Spain, Poland, the Baltics… Social and economic uncertainty leads to women giving birth to fewer children. Energetic young people, often well-educated, are leaving the country in the belief that the grass is greener on the other side. This has a self-perpetuating effect. Over the last few years, almost 2.4 million Polish inhabitants have left their homeland. In 2016, about 19% of young people of pre and economic productive age stated that they wanted to leave in the next 12 months. These are mainly people under the age of 35. The most popular countries to emigrate to are Germany, Ireland and the UK. One of the complaints of UK citizens which strengthened the Brexit movement was the fast growth of Polish families clogging up Britain’s state school and health care systems. Infertility seems not to be an issue among young Polish emigrants in the UK; it seems to be a problem which reveals itself mainly within the borders of the Polish Republic. Countries like Poland and the Baltics should ask themselves why so many of their own inhabitants are on the move. The overall answer is as short as it is simple. A lot of young people don’t believe their national governments are able to offer them the proper conditions for healthy economic, social and mental development.
The worldwide idea of the global economy is under attack. Autocratic regimes are on the rise because they seem to some voters to be more effective. An autocrat doesn’t need to obtain consensus or even to know the opinions of the people. In order to take action in a democracy, more time is needed, and taking time to think and decide is viewed as a weakness. No politician wants to be accused of weak leadership. Missing the skills and persuasiveness to explain a complex world to their citizens in understandable language, and uncertain about the effects of globalisation and technological innovation, then pretending that everything is under control and giving statements without nuance is all that politicians have left.
Instead of blaming and shaming Brussels, national politicians should ask how they can improve the amenity of their own societies. However, such a process, as well its solutions, could be very painful for their own status and position, which probably explains why they avoid acting decisively. Everyone with an average or higher intellectual ability knows that globalisation can’t be stopped. The inter-connected networks of science, technology and trade have reached an irreversible stage of development, impossible to be turned back by politicians. Balancing its effects at the citizen level, local identity and local self- determination became and will become ever more important. Citizens will be best served by a strong local and regional autonomy, organising their daily life conditions. Supervision over constitutional rules, international trade agreements, foreign policy and military defence will - ironically - be better protected by a strong Europe than by a national government. History shows that cities and their regions last longer than countries. Breslau/Wrocław, Memel/Klaipėda, Danzig/Gdańsk, Lwów/Lviv… The cities are standing firm, protecting a strong and outspoken identity. During recent times, their national governments have come and gone numerous times.
Learning lessons from the experiences of the past may work in science and business; but it seems to be forbidden when it is about voter sentiment. The Polish- Lithuanian Republic, a haven of ethnic tolerance and co-existence, started to decline the moment it was no longer able to organise and communicate its own social structures. The leading role played by Italians in art and science during the Renaissance evaporated due to the fact that the Italian states were
Regional economic and cultural independency will offer individual citizens more certainty and influence in developing their own life conditions than national governments are able to deliver. So instead of ‘less Europe’, we should promote ‘less national government’. The only question left is to find a national politician who will explain this in Brussels. By the way, this column was written in Poznań, Wielkopolska - Europe.
Presenting yourself as politician in favour of a strong Europe, a more united Europe or a federal Europe is like putting a gun to your head and pulling the trigger: political suicide. Most radical politicians declare themselves simply ‘against’ and start to preach new religions such as Brexit, Frexit and Nexit. Those who know better, but just fear the anger of the disillusioned voter, talk about ‘less Europe’ or a ‘different Europe’. The effect is the same: when you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect someone else to believe in you?
Column Dirk Aarts Managing Partner of 24/7 Communication
A Dutch identity does exist On 15th March, millions of Dutch citizens will make their way to the school buildings, local community centres, department stores, libraries, windmills (!) and other places functioning as polling stations for the day. With the current international turbulence, the 2017 parliamentary elections are going to be among the most exciting the Netherlands has seen in decades. From the West, a strong nationalistic wind is blowing over the Atlantic straight onto the Dutch polders, giving rise to populist movements. Meanwhile, from the East, a feeling of mistrust has led to a ban on electronic voting and from the South, the influx of hijabs and beards is causing political turmoil. Many of the election issues are standard ones that have been on the agenda for years: the retirement age, tax regulations, social care and education. But this year is fascinating because of one more issue that is strongly defining the agenda of the election campaign: the issue of a Dutch identity. Never before has such a nationalistic topic been so widely debated as in recent months. Driven by the new inhabitants who ‘tend to do things in a different way’, a new wave of interest in national identity is surging through the Netherlands. A full-page advertisement in a national newspaper when the Prime Minister publically asked the question ‘What kind of country do we want to be?’ provoked intense debate. National discussions about Dutch traditions such as Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), Easter eggs, Christmas trees, swimming lessons at schools are becoming intense and heated debates about the Dutch national identity. Having been one of the world’s most internationally oriented countries for centuries, the ‘Dutch national identity’ is less
clear and obvious than it may sound. In 2007 Queen Maxima even stated that ‘a Dutch identity doesn’t exist’. What she meant was that the Dutch identity doesn’t exist - as the Netherlands is a mixture of cultures and mini-identities. Having lived abroad for the last 20 years, I tend to say that the Dutch identity does exist and, moreover, it is pretty strong in the international community. In the area of global business, international teams and cooperation, the Dutch are very visible and their style is recognisable. While working and doing business in Poland, I frequently catch myself applying typical Dutch solutions to challenges at work. The Dutch focus on reaching compromises and trying to please all parties with mutually-beneficial outcomes, which may be perceived as a weakness by other nationalities. We are very direct and straightforward in what we want and how we think, which is often perceived as rude by others. We treat business seriously yet always find space for practical jokes and fun, which may be perceived as clownish. We have a drive for constructively organising the big picture, while our business partner just wants to get the specific deal done. And last but not least - we are convinced (probably too much so) about ourselves and we mostly believe that the way we manage things is the best. Instead of debating Dutch identity over Black Pete, Easter eggs or Christmas trees, I would encourage my fellow Dutch citizens in the Netherlands to go and work abroad for a while and discover that the Dutch identity does exist and is still going strong, especially in the international business environment.