Holland Gaas

Holland Gaas picHolland Gaas is bringing its popular greenhouse insect netting systems to the building industry.

By Tim O’Connor

The Great Recession put a stranglehold on the entire construction industry, but a few well-positioned companies found opportunities in the worldwide economic downturn. Holland Gaas, a manufacturer and supplier of insect netting systems for greenhouses, had built up a customer base of small projects.

Then the recession hit and the number of new construction projects dwindled. To survive, European greenhouse builders expanded to other continents to maintain the same workload. In doing so, those clients brought Holland Gaas to a wider audience.

In just a few years, Holland Gaas went from a regional supplier to a worldwide leader in insect netting. The company now participates in about 200 turnkey projects annually and experienced spectacular growth in 2015 and even stronger growth in 2016.

The global trend toward healthier and more wholesome foods has also benefited Holland Gaas. Food producers today are working to meet customer demands for pesticide-free produce. Without pesticides, organic growers must find other ways to protect their crops. Insect netting can guard against infestations while enabling producers to grow food in a controlled environment.

Integrated Systems

Holland Gaas was originally the insect netting system department for Holland Scherming, a company specializing in screen systems for greenhouses and poly houses. As the market potential for insect netting systems grew, Holland Scherming decided in 2005 to split Holland Gaas off into its own company to facilitate its growth and give it freedom to supply to competitors. holland gaas box

The newly formed company started with small-scale projects in The Netherlands, but its system proved expensive and difficult to install. Holland Gaas dedicated itself to improving its netting systems to increase production volume while reducing costs, eventually developing a integrated accordion-shaped system that could more easily fit the custom profiles of the vents on top of a greenhouse. The integrated system uses an aluminum frame and rubber profiles, resulting in netting that was easier to install and required less material. The ease of installation and durability paved the way for Holland Gaas to rapidly expand its customer base.

The netting systems can be adjusted to match the specifications of any greenhouse building. Because Holland Gaas works with so many clients, the company has built up a large database of system designs. In many cases, when customers contact Holland Gaas for a quote the company already has a design ready for a turnkey installation, co-owner Marcel Schulte says. “In integrated systems we only supply netting and rubber and we work with the greenhouse builder to engineer  the profiles and structures,” he adds. 

Holland Gaas Pic 2Holland Gaas today serves greenhouse clients around the world from its headquarters in Maasdijk, The Netherlands, a center for the high-tech greenhouse industry. Its strongest markets include The Netherland, Canada, United States, France and Russia, but Holland Gaas has also supported greenhouse and poly house projects in India, New Zealand, Tanzania, Norway, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany and many more countries. For greenhouse construction in the United States, Holland Gaas works together with GV Construction (www.gvconstruction.net).

In working around the world Holland Gaas has created a product that proves itself. Its polyester netting has held up in even the harshest environments, and even its oldest systems, which have been in place for 16 years, have never required maintenance. “The quality is strong enough to survive heavy climate conditions. Because of extreme weather conditions worldwide, the greenhouse industry uses only high-quality raw materials and in large volumes. This way of production can be very attractive for durable systems in the building market,” Schulte says.

The upfront cost may be higher, but Schulte believes Holland Gaas’ netting systems have a lower cost per year and greater return on investment than competitors. “We supply a folded insect netting system that has a much longer lifespan, less light reduction and better ventilation than other netting systems.”

Holland Gaas engineers systems for existing situations, a challenge that becomes complicated with the spread of insect infestations such as the pepper weevil, whitefly or aphids. Different size nettings are needed to guard against different insects, but clients don’t just want to go with smallest mesh because it reduces airflow and ventilation. When the right product is chosen, growers are able to cultivate in an environmentally friendly way that is better for the people who work in the greenhouses and the consumers who can eat produce free from pesticide residue.

The popularity of Holland Gaas’ system has inspired imitators, so the company must keep innovating to provide the value clients want. “Many times our systems are copied. So we have to stay ahead in new developments [such as] better UV stability and have answers for special situations,” Schulte says.

The company’s decentralized structure also enables it to respond more quickly to customer requests. It takes about 12 weeks from the time of order to delivery in most cases and Schulte is personally involved with every client.

Building Boom

The greenhouse industry has been a good customer base for Holland Gaas, but there are more interesting markets for new projects. To continue its growth, the company must find new applications for its insect netting. Schulte sees the greatest potential in the building industry. “That market is so much bigger than the greenhouse industry,” he says.

Holland Gaas pic 3Offices and residential complex tenants may want to take in fresh air, but strong winds and incoming insects dissuade people from opening windows. Netting can help, but it can be unsightly and block the view. Schulte says the accordion style of Holland Gaas’ products screens out bugs and wind while appearing nearly invisible to anyone looking out the window and creating a much more convenient airflow inside. Holland Gaas sometimes supply systems for buildings such as factories and garden centers. Those clients want to open the ventilation windows, but do not want dust, leaves or insects inside – nor birds that could activate the alarm system.

The building market is inherently  different from greenhouses. Projects tend to be larger and involve more stakeholders, so decisions must survive multiple levels of approvals before a subcontractor is hired or a material chosen. Holland Gaas does not want to be caught unprepared, so the company is entering the building market in a controlled way by starting with a few sample projects. “When you want to do it on a big scale you want to be prepared,” Schulte says. “We are more ready than we were two years ago.

“We do have special projects in [the building] field but we have to spend more energy here to show the possibilities in this huge market,” Schulte adds.


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