Discover the history of our typical Dutch family business: “From growing sprouts to an innovative and very modern vegetables and fruit supplier with national distribution and more than 350 passionate people”.
It all started around 1950 when Leen van Gelder and his wife M. van Gelder-Schumacher came back from a short adventure in Canada. The Dutch ground apparently had an enormous attraction. Next to being a local grower, Leen started growing sprouts on his own land. This became a success and it was time to start something bigger.
‘Working hard is fine, but it has to be for myself’. This could have been his thought when he became an independent grower in 1953. He and his wife eventually had five sons and they all worked in the store, before and after school.
The wholesale was set and it was time for something extra. Leen bought a shop and now he was selling in the Pijnackerstraat in Rotterdam. His son Wim ran the shop and this shop also became a success. His son Gerrit, who helped his father since he was fourteen, became a worker in the shop.
A second store was bought at the Pieter de Hoochstraat in Ridderkerk. Gerrit became the supervisor and he had one girl working for him in the store. It should be known by now that this was a huge success and his brother Jan joined him in the same year. This store quickly became even more of a success when Ridderkerk started building the local shopping mall around the store.
Fitting the eighties, the next challenge was a kiosk in the center of Ridderkerk. This quickly became too small and most of the products were displayed outside of the kiosk.
It was time for a change and there were new plans for the center of Ridderkerk. In this modernization process there was no place for the kiosk anymore. This meant it was also time for a new challenge for L. van Gelder, the Versmarkt idea was born. A lot of local greengrocers were approached and vegetables and fruit specialist L. van Gelder talked with them. This was the start of the Versmarkt.
Even more new ideas. The beginnings of the production company and wholesale were made and the store at the Koopliedenweg in Barendrecht functioned as a temporary storage location and production company. This store also took care of purchasing all products for the customers./font>
This store also grew quickly: the store at the Koopliedenweg became too small. L. van Gelder started his own modern production company with ten business units, meant for rental, at the Veren Ambacht business park. The production company was used by Van Gelder. The doors opened in 2002. A lot of money had been invested in modern production techniques.
Results from the past are of course no guarantee for future successes, but very early on a lot of extra land next to the building at Handelsweg 70 was bought nonetheless. This eventually paid off, as the new logistics center has been built on the 3500 square meters of land in 2008. The buildings were connected with each other. Number 70 is the production company, whereas 60 is the logistics company. This included nine docks for arriving and leaving products.
Van Gelder ensured national coverage by buying Verhaaren Tilburg and Venlo and by having a majority ownership of Stavasius in Groningen. Van Gelder is ready for the future and to grow even more with buildings in Ridderkerk and Groningen and a strong position in the industry.
Van Gelder, led by Leen van Gelder’s sons, grew a lot lately and the growth has not stopped yet! We are moving to a new location to ensure that all our activities are being done as good as possible. Our new building will be the entrance to new business park Nieuw-Reijerwaard, which is the most sustainable business park of Europe. We are building our new building at the location where growers used to work in the past (Leen van Gelder also grew his sprouts there).