It was the end of the 1980s in Westland, the centre of the Dutch horticultural industry. Eef van Zanten was working as a contractor potting lettuces. It was very labour-intensive work. As a contractor he also had something of the inventor about him, so it got him thinking. Couldn’t this process be made a bit smarter? And in 1988 Eef came up with an invention to make his work more efficient: the Preforma plug, a clever propagation system for lettuce and other plants. It’s a big hit - and it still is today. Many years later, Preforma, the company of the same name that started producing the plugs, was taken over by Jiffy Products, which still sells the patented plug.
Eef van Zanten continued to innovate. He designed a growing system with mobile gutters: Formflex. This also developed into a fully fledged company, and the company still exists today. In 1992 he produced his first rough design for a complete growing system for pot plant companies: the Walking Plant System. The idea was revolutionary. Workers no longer had to go to the plants - the plants came to them. The system had many advantages. First and foremost were the manpower savings, but it also made better use of space, improved growth rates, and ensured greater crop uniformity.
In early 2000 it became apparent that the plant research sector also had an urgent need for a system of this kind. The Walking Plant System went on to become so successful that 10 years after its inception the activities were hived off into a separate company: WPS.
In 2007 the package was expanded with the addition of conveyor belts, and in 2008 a software developer joined the team. The addition of benching systems in 2010 was the next logical step, enabling WPS to offer customers a fully integrated solution. By now it was not just about Walking Plant Systems; delivery systems and the innovative Plant Order System also joined the product portfolio.
In less than 20 years, WPS has developed an excellent reputation in the international greenhouse horticulture and plant research sectors. It employs 50 people and still focuses very much on R&D. Its systems are worlds apart from the initial bold experiments of the early 1990s. But the underlying principle has never changed: thinking in solutions, with the emphasis on solutions that work.
And that has been the impetus for giving the abbreviation WPS a new meaning in 2014. One that has rung true ever since the first plug was produced in 1988: We Prove Solutions.