Happy ambassadors: Doing business in and with the Dutch Green Heart

Opus is an employment agency that mainly works in the agriculture and logistics industries. Owner Abdel Azaouagh worked hard to get OPUS where it is today, starting out as a self-employed professional before growing with his company. Opus has now scaled up several times, moving to new offices each time. They are currently based in Waddinxveen, after moving in the midst of the corona crisis. This is the story of an entrepreneur with heart and a personal touch.

THE OPUS VISION

Opus is an employment agency that works with thousands of people in the agriculture and logistics industries. Although it is also involved in production and engineering, the agricultural industry is its main focus, as is evidenced by its close partnerships with tree nurseries in the Netherlands’ Green Heart region. “If you’re looking for assistance with trees, flowers or plants, you’ve come to the right place”, says Abdel Azaouagh. 

Opus was built on a combination of craftsmanship and entrepreneurship. By “just doing it”, they managed to grow from a small organisation into a major local company. Reliability is key to what we do. “We do business with our hearts, which means we don’t just make blind business decisions, but think about the best solution on a personal level too. Our word is our bond, that’s one of our core tenets, because reliability is what allows you to build sustainable relationships. We’re in this market for long-term relationships, which we strive to foster through clear communication and by doing what we say we will. We believe in face time and finding solutions together.

Temporary employment agencies fill a wide range of needs and are indispensable for companies struggling with issues such as absenteeism, illness or under capacity. If a company has a problem it can’t solve, we’re there with a solution, whether it’s the people we employ or our knowledge and expertise. We go beyond solving immediate problems: we explore how we can improve the underlying processes. That’s what makes this line of work so much fun, you work together to accomplish great things. 

It's important to be on the same page. Customers want a good, reliable employment agency, and we want good, satisfied customers. The only way to make this happen is to communicate clearly: when you’re open and honest, your customers will even accept the occasional slip-up. This is how you create ambassadors and it’s how we’ve been able to grow. New customers often call us first, following a referral by a neighbour, colleague or partner. We’re being recommended by our customers, which is the best way to grow. No targets or bonuses, just do your job well and give it your all for your customers. That’s what Opus really stands for the rest will come naturally."

"Customers value reliability and dependability."

Abdelkarim Azaouagh

the growth of opus

The company found its origin in 1999. "I've always been an entrepeneur, mostly in tree nursery. I rented myself out to companies and there the idea founded its form. It started small, but slowly and more important, healthy we started growing. More and more people joined and from that moment we needed our first office in Reeuwijk. Here we had a base to grow and gain more knowledge. From that moment it became very serious. Michiel Uittenbogaard then joined. He focused on administration. From that moment we grew from 4 people to 10, to 15 and then 20. Then we decided to take the next step. We moved to the centre of Boskoop on a A-location. Here we were really able to present ourselves to the market. Here we turned into a local bureau.

Now we are another 10 years further and we've just moved again. Our office is now in Waddinxveen. Completely equipped with the best technical gadgets. It is amazing to see how a company can grow from an idea towards a big company with an office building." The plan to move had been postponed for a little while. "Of course it was difficult to move with the coronavirus. But canceling everything is also not an option. We already made to many plans. In the end everything was fine, apart from some minor delays. We even had an opening party in July. With some corona measures. It was a beautiful day."

"Iets kleins zoals regelmatig je centrale bloemstuk veranderen maakt je bedrijf al dynamisch."

Adbelkarim Azaouagh

THE SILK COMPANY

Abdel believes there is clear common ground between The Silk Company and Opus. "We're pretty similar. Martijn and his team have the same what-you-see-is-what-you-get attitude as us. It’s part and parcel of the culture in this industry. Having a bit of personality is also important: I know Martijn personally and I know we’re alike. He makes beautiful products, and our offices have a great, contemporary look because of them. We sat down with The Silk Company to set out a sound plan, and we’ve noticed that our lush, green interior appeals to our employees, customers and guests alike. We’re very proud of the result and I believe pride is a core aspect of running a good company. 

Besides, you have to keep up with the times. I don’t like stagnant companies, and even small gestures like updating your floral centrepiece can change the dynamics. Martijn also provides great advice, creating something new each season. For me, The Silk Company is the embodiment of personality and quality. No matter how enjoyable they are to work with, their craft comes first. We also have a green wall of our own and people adore it. They’ll stand back, admiring it from a distance as if it were a masterpiece in a museum. Our green wall has become a core element of our offices that encourages people to return, which contributes to the trusting, dynamic aspects of our company. Opus would not be what it is today without our friends, and Martijn is definitely one of them.”

"Abdel is a good friend of mine and i am very happy with our collaboration."

Martijn Moerings - The Silk Company

FUTURE OF THE FIELD

Abdel foresees plenty of challenges for the near future. “Unfortunately, craftsmanship has come under pressure. Working in a tree nursery is a real craft, but a labour shortage has gradually started to emerge. Getting to know and really mastering a craft just isn’t ‘sexy’ anymore. It’s a real shame, because it’s a wonderful field. You’re actively working with nature and fostering real growth, literally working towards a greener future. 

In the coming years, we want to get more young people interested in tree nurseries, trying to inspire them to embark on a career in agriculture. We want to show them what it’s like to work at a tree nursery. Let me tell you: it’s fantastic. We’re going to show everyone what this wonderful sector has to offer. Just watch."

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