The latest news about pet food speciality player IQI is that they have entered a partnership with Olvea, the French producer of natural oils. This step is part of the growth scenario that IQI envisages. It is an interesting moment to step in.
Only premium ingredients are good enough for IQI, and they are happy to travel all the way to Uruguay or Mongolia to find them. 'Our products are not for sale on every street corner. It is a matter of searching the world with a flashlight. But that's why we often have a unique product, and that is what makes us interesting,' says CEO Patrick van der Kleij. In 25 years, IQI BV has developed into a global market leader in pet food specialities.
Congratulations on your 25th anniversary!
‘Thank you very much. It really is a reason to celebrate. The foundations are in place, but there is also a whole world to be conquered. The owners are convinced that everything is looking good, that there are still many opportunities and that we need to invest in people to seize those opportunities. In concrete terms, this means that we are expanding our employee base. As a result, we are bursting at the seams, so we will soon be moving to a bigger office in the centre of the country.’
Is the internal organisation ready for this growth?
‘Pretty much. You see, IQI has been in the pioneering family business phase for 25 years, and now we are ready for an organisational and professional change, which results in a clear separation of duties. For example, we created a sales support unit, so purchasing and sales no longer have to deal with administration and logistics. We have also created a separate position for marketing. This allows everyone to focus more on their core business. It also brings structure and clarity and ensures that everyone does what they are good at. This focus can give plenty of momentum because the processes run more smoothly.’
Where do you expect to gain more profits?
‘From existing partners, but also new relations. We have noticed that we can achieve more if we give our suppliers more attention. The key suppliers actually expect extra attention. You can't just buy random raw materials from anywhere: you have a common interest! With innovative products, you can help the suppliers grow as well. By deepening the relationship, you know what is going on and you can also think along with each other and make progress.’
"IQI growth scenario creates unique entry point"
You often bring up the relationship with customers and suppliers. Why is that so important to you?
‘During negotiations, many buyers quickly aim the conversation to the final price of the goods. Why not do some research first?: what is important to them, and to us, what issues do they come up against and how can IQI help them? They may be dealing with seasonal products and a lack of storage, for example. We actually have solutions for that. We have warehouses, for example, so why not let us handle those valuable products? We can act as a shock absorber between suppliers and customers. Sometimes there is a quality issue, for example. In such cases, our quality manager will help rthem to find the root cause and possible solutions. Our innovation manager, in turn, advises on by-product flows; by keeping certain flows separate or processing them differently, you can create more value. You can only succeed if you are both on the same side! Only then can you set up something new together and improve products. There is still an extra added value to be created at this level and on the customer side that may be even bigger! This means that an exclusive relationship, with mutual dependency, has our preference.’
Is that why you went into business with a competitor?
‘OLVEA is a French company that sources and refines natural oils. They used the same refinery as we did to process their fish oils, so when the refinery announced that they were closing, we were both faced with the same problem. OLVEA grabbed the bull by the horns and built a new, state-of-the-art refining and storage facility in Normandy. To cut a long story short; we have combined our volumes and now use each other's strengths and networks for high-quality fish oil. Instead of competitors, we are now partners. In my opinion, these kinds of partnerships are increasingly likely. It is a great task to expand as a team and, in doing so, to achieve a strong position in the chain, based on long-term cooperation.’
What is your most urgent need at the moment to switch to the next phase?
‘People! Given the phase we find ourselves in, now is the time to join IQI. Experiencing these changes is brilliant. We especially need new impulses; the door is wide open to team members with different experiences and competencies. We are not looking for uniformity, on the contrary: we need new blood. This includes a Global Procurement Manager who structurally buys on demand. Worldwide sourcing and purchasing involve plenty of dynamics. The price-quality ratio has to be good without compromising on quality. If you buy from us, you know that it is all good, and where it came from.’
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