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In order to understand a man you need to understand how that man became that man. After all, we are all the product of our ancestors.
One thing is certain: Dirk has horticulture in his blood.
In the late 1860’s The Van Baast family moved from Tilburg (the Netherlands) to Ekeren (Belgium) and started a business involving the cultivation of garden roses on a 250 m2 plot. Let’s put this date in perspective. It will be another 15 years for the automobile to be invented and another 30 years for it to be available to the general masses. Abraham Lincoln’s American presidency had just reached an untimely end!
By 1920 Dirks great-grandfather Van Baast diversifies with the cultivation of bedding plants and chrysanthemums after working for a baron. In 1946 Dirk’s grandfather Mermans takes over the reins; building this business to 4000m2 before handing it over to father Mermans in the early 1960’s. At this point a shift to cultivating indoor plants, including ferns and monstera was undertaken.
In 1993 Dirk finalises his academic studies in engineering and starts working in his father’s 18,000 m2 nursery. The acquisition of a vegetable greenhouse in Wommelgem in 2003 signals the start of what we now know as Plantlovers.eu.
An expansion of this new facility to 20,000 m2 was followed 2 years later by being awarded Belgian Ornamental Grower of the Year and subsequently the winner of the bronze rose in the ‘International grower of the year’ awards.
In 2019 another 12,500 m2 was added. The rest, shall we say, is history.
Dirk is not only a family man, devoted husband to his wife Annick and has two beautiful and inspiring daughters Marie and Rosalie. Both who are being encouraged to follow their own paths.
Dirk is an active member of the chamber of commerce and a significant contributor to the local Wommelgem and Belgium economy. Employing around 16 staff members, he firmly believes his family to be a lot larger. Through troubled times the extended family and the responsibility that comes with this has often been a difficult one to bear, but this has ultimately been the driving force to overcome any challenges thrown his way.
The collapse of the European transport and logistics sector in early 2020 forced many greenhouse owners and growers to rethink, adapt and sometimes jump way out of their comfort zone.
Dirk has the fortune to be able to draw on his past experience, setbacks, successes. “With a bit of luck” (his own words) he navigates his business through the turbulent and stormy times ahead. Dirk knows very well you never know what will come next.
Quality, Sustainability, Reliability and Choice.
He wants to offer a wide assortment of plants at a fair price with the highest regard to quality and sustainability.