Reliability, partnership, sharing expertise and challenging the existing: these are Cultilene’s four key commitments – also this year. But also important for Cultilene and Saint-Gobain are our concerns about the Environment, Health and Safety (EHS). Safety is an important factor in everything we do! This is important for our employees, but also for our customers. Our focus on safety has meant that the number of industrial accidents was once again zero last year; this also contributes to improving both the quality of our products and the efficiency of our products and processes. Safety gives many benefits!
The year 2017 was also when we as Saint-Gobain were involved in a cyber attack. Just at that very time, we were working on the conversion to our software system. This meant some major challenges for us; on the other hand, this incident also demonstrated how flexible and resolute we could be as a company and a team. Any company can be confronted with a cyber attack. As a company, it’s important to be aware of these risks and take measures in time.
We can look back on a year of substantial growth: the global economy is improving. But this is also leading to risks regarding the availability of raw materials and price rises – trends that are highly likely to continue in years to come.
Cultilene achieved 30 percent growth in total turnover, and sales of both Albarino Glass and stone wool substrates experienced double-digit growth. We also completed a number of high-prestige projects. Good examples were the glazing of the Daylight Greenhouse for Ter Laak Orchids and various interesting projects making use of the perfect substrate combination: RootmaXX and Exact Air.
One of the innovative new glass products we launched in 2017 was our Albarino Ultra Low Haze. This diffused glass guarantees the highest light transmission available on the market. We have also worked on new products to be introduced in the coming years; these include innovations in sensors, filtration and screening.
The innovation strategy that Cultilene embarked on some years ago was also reflected successfully in other areas. Cultilene also teamed up with other leading parties such as BASF, Sabic, Wageningen University and Research, and Fuji in working on the ‘Smart Materials for Greenhouses Project’ being conducted as part of an innovation and applied research project known as ‘High Tech to Feed the World’. Its aim is to use smart and flexible materials for the greenhouse roof to make efficient use of natural sunlight. By this time, the initial ideas have been hatched and are now being developed.
For Cultilene, taking part in these kinds of projects is contributing to solutions that will advance horticulture both now and in the future. It’s no wonder that ‘challenging the existing’ is one of our key commitments! And we’ll be working on a lot more ideas and projects in the years to come. To be continued…
Last but not least, we should also mention the work on our corporate identity last year. We created a new company film and, just before Christmas, we launched our new website: www.cultilene.com. Our new website is fresh, modern, user-friendly, and reflects Cultilene’s personal approach. The year 2017 was also when we presented our Smart Root Zone Management app that includes a slab calculator. This tool helps you create the best possible substrate layout by providing such information as the right slab sizes, the distance between the slabs, the volume of substrate in relation to the chosen crop and the head density. This guarantees getting your crop off to a perfect start!
All these advantages are giving Cultilene a higher profile. This is not only a source of pride but also a good basis for continued growth in the future!
Now it’s time to get to work in 2018! We expect a worldwide growth in horticulture under glass or foil. This will also mean growing more products like strawberries and lettuces on substrate in order to save on water and fertilisers. We’re also expecting the development of new opportunities in developing regions such as Asia as well as in urban farming.
All of these opportunities, however, will also be accompanied by challenges. After all, this expected growth will have to be managed properly so that we can provide you with optimal service. Due to the seasonal nature of greenhouse horticulture (particularly the substrate activities), we’ll have to schedule our own production capacity very carefully to respond to your needs. Since this is a shared responsibility, we will soon be in contact with you to get a clear picture of your preferences and expectations for 2018.
In short: we’re going to be confronted with a considerable number of challenges that we will have to meet together with you as our customer. Looking ahead and planning, identifying needs in advance, standardising and optimising the use of production capacity will be essential. We’ll be making every effort to ensure that the products you need will get to you at the right time and the right place.
Cultilene is committed not only to inspiring its customers but its employees as well. This is why we will be moving to a new office in the middle of 2018: a place that will motivate our employees even more to get the best from themselves and a place where we will be pleased to receive you as our customer. We’ll be telling you more about this soon.
Finally, we would like to thank you very much for your support and collaboration over the last year. On behalf of all the Cultilene employees, we wish you a wonderful, successful and, most importantly, a healthy 2018!
Algemeen directeur Saint-Gobain Cultilene