Ten developments in Moonen's sixty-year history

It was sixty years ago that the Moonen family began its wholesale packaging business. Given the healthy trade in packaging, this turned out to be an excellent move. Looking back at Moonen's history, one element has remained steadfast: its commitment to development. This commitment to development extends to its business and entrepreneurship. Here are ten developments illustrated in a unique conversation with Bèr and Gé Moonen.

From how to why
'I really didn't have a choice back then,' explains Bèr. 'Being the eldest son and a free pair hair of hands, I had to quit school to help my dad in his packaging company. I'm happy I did. He really believed in me and enabled me to become an entrepreneur.' 'I've inherited my parents' entrepreneurial spirit,' says Gé, assuredly. 'Given that the packaging sector was growing more quickly than the economy, my father and grandfather rightly saw the opportunities it offered. My father knew exactly how we could sell packaging. I learnt a lot from him and can now see other opportunities. The new opportunities involve asking the question why we sell it, as it often seems that improvements can be made in terms of our choice of materials. I am eager to convince our clients of this, too.'

From Bèr and Toos Moonen to Gé Moonen
'My father was the boss,' says Bèr, as he reminisces on his first years in the business. 'However, he'd rather drive the lorry, leaving me to do my own thing and follow my business instinct. Toos, my wife, supported me during this period and managed sales for a long time. No matter how much the business expanded, clients could always speak personally to Mrs Moonen on the phone. This personal element proved crucial to the success of our business. This success was also determined by our industrious work ethic: we would always arrive first and go last, so that we would be a good example to follow. However, when closing the business day entailed the time-consuming process of backing up the computer, it was no wonder we had to stay late.' 'Keep working harder,' adds Gé. 'That was synonymous with my parents' approach to business. I do that, too, but in recent years I've been enjoying life more. Whereas before it was all about working hard, nowadays it's all about working smart. The old approach is simply no longer valid. That's why when I'm at home, I try to ignore work, even though I find that difficult.'

From a cigar box to EDI
'For a long time, my father used to write down the day's trade on the back of a cigar box,' recalls Bèr. 'He would just pluck money from anywhere.' This changed over time and we began to work with Olivetti punched paper tape. It took an eternity to produce, so we let the Dutch insurance agency Centraal Beheer take care of it. I can't imagine how it would have been had we had Internet at the time. Things were already working at a relatively quick pace.' 'I think it will only get quicker,' says Gé. 'The exponential growth in technology makes it difficult to gauge the speed of changes. This is why you have to keep abreast of technology, so you don't miss anything important. I've never regretted starting to work with EDI in 1995. The technology was rocket science back then, but I can now safely say that that investment turned out to be the right choice. We've been reaping the rewards for two decades now, as it allows us to flexibly connect to our clients' systems.'

From Aanpak to NovuPak
Bèr continues: 'I remember when Moonen became a member of Contact, a Dutch buyers' cooperative. We took our membership very seriously and fostered a true entrepreneurial climate. We also looked for collaboration in terms of sales. Finally, in 1981, we co-founded the new cooperative "Aanpak" along with the six largest packaging companies in the Netherlands. The cooperative enjoyed a long period of success. We supplied each other's clients, using our own region as a hub.' 'My father was the founder of Aanpak and managed it for 25 years,' says Gé. 'He took the lead by giving and profiting from the seeds he'd sowed, going by the motto: "those who can share, can also multiply".' Those members who were part of the 1981 founding of Aanpak still dominate the market. Upscaling caused us to go our separate ways; we weren't geared up for that evolution. However, we learnt a lot from each other in the cooperation. We apply that knowledge as a member of the European packaging cooperative "NovuPak".'

From wholesale trade to chain director
'We quickly evolved into an independent player,' explains Bèr. 'This meant that clients took us seriously. So seriously, in fact, that Sporthuis Centrum, now Center Parcs, assigned us the tasks of 26 packaging suppliers. While this was impossible to do alone, we managed it superbly. At the time, it was one of our first outsourcing projects.' 'Our role is still in flux,' thinks Gé. 'It ranges from purchasing and selling to providing advice, contributing to our clients' ideas, and innovating. We also have to demonstrate how we retain our added value for clients and suppliers, so that the company becomes a trusted partner who can cooperate with its clients in order to develop new circular concepts that reduce the amount of waste.'

If you would like to know about other developments, you can read the rest of the article here.