Marianne Meier-Rutishauser, Rutishauser – Blumenproduzent

«After Corona the world will be a different one»

Mrs Meier-Rutishauser, what does the lockdown mean for you as a flower producer?
We were very worried. In the spring we produce about 4 million tulips. These are planted so that they bloom in different weeks. But of course, they also do that when sales slump. Well, we have adapted as well as possible to the new situation and are doing our best to reduce the damage, also for our employees and customers.

In the meantime, you are allowed to supply flower markets, for example, and sell online. Problem solved?
It's a drop in the ocean. But I am grateful that we are now able to sell at least some of our cut flowers. The flower shops are closed, and we are also lacking the wholesalers. Fortunately, we can sell a part of them via flower markets and FleuropHome. In addition, some large companies had the idea to give tulips to their shareholders because of the cancelled general assembly. Such actions are great for us. It's a huge job, but it motivates you to stick it out. Unfortunately, these buyers are not enough. We always have to dispose of large quantities of cut flowers.

How did your employees react? Were you able to keep everyone employed?
Unfortunately, that was not possible. Normally we have about 200 employees. We were able to keep some of them on, some of them are working temporarily and some of them have registered for short-time work. Fortunately, we have succeeded in placing some of our employees in agriculture. There is currently a shortage of people there. And fortunately, we are a good team. The employees are understanding and helpful and even provide helpful ideas. I am really grateful for that.

Do you only produce tulips?
Our production varies depending on the season. At the moment tulips make up the largest part. But of course, we also have spring plants like primroses and ranunculus, as well as hydrangeas. Soon the geraniums will be ready for sale, and a little later of course the whole summer offer for balcony and terrace. Geraniums are one of our problem children. Now we can only hope for the online trade of our own flower shop.

What are your biggest challenges?
One of our biggest challenges at the moment is planning. We work with living plants. In order not to generate large gaps in production, we must now prepare for the time when we can return to normality. This means that we now have to plant what our customers may demand in summer. The plants need time to grow, of course. Since no one knows whether the crisis will be over by then, this means a great risk for the whole company.

What does Rutishauser do for the safety of its employees?
Wherever possible, they have switched to home office. Those who work here are protected in accordance with the requirements of the FOPH. In most cases, the employee sits alone in the office and breaks are staggered. We are very strict about this. As far as the home office is concerned, by the way, we have noticed that this makes communication and therefore collaboration more difficult. Especially in times of crisis, this puts an additional strain on the work. But I understand the point, of course.

What qualities do you think an entrepreneur needs right now?
Confidence, joy and staying power. We are all called upon to make the best of our situation.

How do your customers react to the new situation?
We receive many mails and letters. There is a lot of warmth and solidarity to be felt.

What do you hope for in the near future?
That we stay healthy ... and that we gain something positive from this crisis. I believe that after Corona the world will be a different place. Many of us may become a little more grounded and decelerated. That gives us hope too.

Mrs. Meier-Rutishauser, thank you for the interview.

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