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Kari Silokangas, Product Manager, Kekkilä-BVB

July 8, 2019

“Professional growing starts from customer demands”

As a Product Manager at Kekkilä-BVB Nordic and Baltic, developing the product portfolio is a daily job. Making substrate from new raw materials doing tryouts is both exciting and inspiring. It requires a close collaboration with colleagues, sales personnel, factories and customers.

Products for professional growing

Starting from customer demands Kari and his colleagues enjoyes the work. Visiting customers regularly he gets the understanding of growing conditions. He knows about different crops and new techniques in nurseries.
– Based on customer needs we try to make good substrate from the raw material we have in factories, Kari says.

Knowing professional growing

With a background in horticulture from university and with almost 40 years of experience Kari knows professional growing. How to grow in peat is also central for Kari. Growers demands is the way forward. For instance, Kari knows which crops they are growing, which machines they use, how they grow and about irrigation.

– Different kind of crops need special growing substances, built from different raw material. As an example, we mix peat with for example moss, wood fiber or clay to offer the best solution, he says.

New growing techniques

Helping customers with new solutions is also the best part in his job.
– Finding new solutions and help customers is the best part. It is also a way to continuously learn, he says.

Many of the nurseries i visit have sophisticated technique. Due to new technique we see an increased demand for flexibility and new solutions.
– We need to make new recipes based on new techniques in nurseries. We also must consider the machines and raw materials in our factories. Bigger growers are coming, and bigger volumes are needed, we need to adjust, Kari says.

Innovation starts from new technique

New solutions needs innovative thinking and courage Kari says. This is how our values gets in the picture. Talking about Courage to renew and Trust through respect, according to Kari, these two must interact.

– Values must be lived not only inside the organization also together with customers. We listen to customers and their demands and they must trust that we are innovative and find new solutions. We make machines and people happy, he says.

Why have growers different technique?

Kari says it starts from machines today, before it started from the plants. Since a couple of years, this is a big change. Growers have different machines for potting, harvesting or replanting.

– We need to have the full picture to make good substrate. To us what is happening in nurseries and how we can improve our machines and raw materials in factories, is crucial to customer success, he says.

Innovation and sustainability

Today, sustainability is the main topic. Products and substrates need to be developed even more from organic material.
– Becoming Kekkilä-BVB gives us a chance to share knowledge in the organization more than before.

In the Nordics we know peat Kari says. That’s a huge upside. In Holland many of our Dutch colleagues has a background in growing on a high level.
We complement each other. We also have even more possibilities with research at Kekkilä-BVB research center in Holland. Talking sustainability this gives us advantages, he says.

Sustainable innovations

When talking sustainability, Natural Control Grow Boards is something he mentions.
– Grow boards wrapped in compostable foil are easy and safe for growing and cost efficient to recycle. They are also effective to transport and easy to handle. Made from organic material grow boards also saves water and nutrients compared to inactive substrates, Kari says.