Sudlac aims to support growers in horticulture with greenhouse climate improvement.

Near Grenoble in the French Alps is the production facility of Sudlac, a producer of greenhouse shading materials. Bruno Crosnier Leconte, General manager of the French parent company, passionately tells us about his plans for the future in his company, where people are at the heart of it all.

Before saying something about his ideas, he outlines the background of the company that innitially manufactured paints for the professional market. “The original family company was founded in 1959, at a place that vibrates with life and innovative developments: the French Alps, close to Grenoble. This is a hotbed of powerful technology and innovation companies. This includes Hewlett-Packard. The region also is a 5-star sports area. People are good at skiing, snowboarding and other mountain sports. The location alone provides you with vibrant energy”, he says enthusiastically.

Bruno purchased the company in 2004. He decided to renew the company, developing innovative shading products. Rather than producing exclusively for the French market, he decided to start exporting as well. Exports are currently good for 40% of total sales. The shading products are shipped throughout the world: to the ‘reference market’, the Netherlands; the neighbouring countries Switzerland and Italy; North America, Japan, Australia and countries where greenhouse cultivation is on the rise.

Challenge

The time is ripe for a new challenge: building on the solid basis and grow in terms of volume and support. “We are well established in our home market. We supply a range of top-quality products with a reliable function according tot he growers needs and we provide good service. We aim to increase growth in the existing exports market and expand it to new, developing markets such as China, India and Mexico.

Particular in these countries with emerging greenhouse horticulture we see opportunities for growth. Based on our proven experience, we first invest in education at a local level, ensuring that growers know when and how to apply our products.”

Sudlac also offers attractive shading solutions for key horticutural areas such as Spain, Southern Italy and Turkey. “Traditionally, Sudlac has extensive experience in providing practical shading solutions at affordable prices. Sudlac is launching the brand Sombrero this year, a temporary shading agent available both as a powder and as a liquid.

He sees the shading agents as a ‘tool’ that growers can use for practical protection of their valuable crops. Depending on the type, the shading agents deflect light, prevent the temperature from increasing too much, or diffuse the incoming light. “Our products give protection, offering the grower some certainty. Also, the plants grow better, often with higher production”, he summarises the benefits.

The company can grow only if the quality of the shading agents is guaranteed. Each individual batch leaving our gates is checked. We also keep a sample of each batch for two years. If we should find any problems, we contact the clients that received products from this batch.

People are Important

People are at the heart of our organisation, both in terms of our employees as well as our customers. Fifteen people are currently working for Sudlac. Bruno sees it as an honour that customers calling with questions specifically ask for the persons they have developed a relationship with rather than asking for the Sales or Accounting departments, or the Lab.

This was a determining factor in the decision to set up a separate export team in the Netherlands, close to the reference market, accessible to growers, and a good place to maintain international contacts. “We see the Netherlands as a label. If the product proves successful in the Netherlands, it will also work in the rest of the world. The choice was Purmerend, just north of Amsterdam. Three Dutch people are working in the export department at this moment. An advantage, as “growing” runs in the Dutch genes.”