Quality Technicians; the gatekeepers of SanLucar
Warehouse Operations Director Philippe Coerten tells about their role in this beautiful company and the background of a vacancy24 feb. 2023
Over the years, the Spanish fruit company SanLucar, has developed into a global company with more than 4000 employees working in more than 30 countries. The company specializes in selling fruits, vegetables, smoothies, juices and flowers from all over the world. In the Netherlands the quality team mainly works in ‘s-Gravenzande, where all fruits that are imported from overseas (that is, all fruits not grown in Europe) arrive, are checked and from there on further distributed over Europe. With business going well, SanLucar has decided to invest in the further development of the quality team and therefore aims to recruit two quality technicians that live in The Netherlands. Philippe Coerten, Warehouse Operations Director at SanLucar, manages this project and tells us more about SanLucar and the background of this vacancy.
“I started working at SanLucar four months ago. In my job I am responsible for all warehouse operations in the Netherlands. On the one hand I am taking care of daily business and on the other hand I am working on projects that
make SanLucar ready for the future. The vacancy triggered me, because I like the idea of working with natural products. Also, the fact that the company works with its own growers and farmers, both in Europe and overseas, and distributes its products worldwide, makes SanLucars’ supply chain, and therefore my job, really interesting. As I have a background in supply chain management, combined with a bit of experience in the field of quality that dates back to the start of my career, this position is a good fit. Also, the company culture appeals to me, because there is a lot of room for personal initiatives.
"For now, the focus of the quality department is on the Westland area"
The role that our warehouse in the Netherlands has within the supply chain is an important one. As all overseas fruits arrive here, we have a wide variety of products, each with its own characteristics. Pineapples, for example, arrived from Costa Rica a couple of weeks ago. I noticed that the boxes on the pallets where wet and therefore stacked crookedly. Therefore I asked the quality manager about it. He explained to me that because it was the rainy season in Costa Rica, everything becomes really humid. That is a returning problem. I find those kinds of natural challenges a very interesting aspect of my work.
Another positive aspect of this job is that the company is developing itself rapidly. This provides me with the chance to further develop current operations in the Netherlands, while collaborating with colleagues internationally. I travel to SanLucar Headquarters in Valencia on a regular basis in order to get to know everybody well and develop a personal connection. That not only helps me getting a feel of everything that is going on, it also makes it easier to collaborate if internal relations are good.
One of my goals is the development of our quality operations in the Netherlands. Besides our facilities in ‘s-Gravenzande, we also have activities in Venlo, where our service provider Berry Packaging Services is located. This is the location where our varieties of berries are being packed. Furthermore we have a small warehouse for limes and a warehouse for the ripening of avocados and mangos. Both of these warehouses are located in the Westland area. For now, the focus of the quality department is on the Westland area, while our co-packer Berry Packaging arranges its own quality control.
Vacancy for two quality technicians
The vacancy for the two quality technicians therefore focuses on the warehouses in the Westland area, with the vast majority of work being done in ‘s-Gravenzande. Our team consists of the quality manager, four technicians and I. The quality technicians inspect the incoming fruits, packaging and inventory and report their findings on a tablet via the QC One application to headquarters in Valencia. Based on their findings, my colleagues in Valencia make decisions about which quantities go to which customer.
"It is easy to understand that the quality technicians have an important role within our organisation"
Therefore, it is really important that the quality technicians have a keen eye for all kinds of deficiencies. They are basically the gatekeepers that make sure that the products delivered to our clients, often large retail organisations, meet their criteria. And as stated earlier: all overseas fruit products that are meant for Europe, arrive in ‘s-Gravenzande. If you realise that, it is easy to understand that the quality technicians have an important role within our organisation.
In the past our technicians often came from Spain and went back to Spain after working here for a while. Now we want to recruit new colleagues that reside in the Netherlands on a permanent basis so we create more continuity in our team. These colleagues will be employed by SanLucar Benelux. SanLucar Benelux also has offices in Barendrecht, from where our commercial team does its work. Contrary to my team, they are all Dutch.
"Colleagues are working on their Dutch skills, but the main language in my team is English"
No Dutch? No problem
Our team is relatively young. The quality manager and the technicians are in their twenties and thirties. The main language in our team is English. My colleagues are working on improving their Dutch skills, but still it is easier for us to communicate in English. And even though SanLucar is a company with Spanish origins, English is the main language in the whole company. Therefore our new colleagues also need to be able to speak and write in English. If you are not proficient in Dutch, that is no problem.
Furthermore, knowledge of fruits is important in order to be successful when you fill the vacancy of Quality Technician. On the one hand the work is mainly focussed on doing the quality controls, on the on the other hand there are ample opportunities to grab chances if you are pro-active. I am always eager to implement good ideas, so please feel free to share yours with me. And if you want to broaden your experience, it is possible to temporarily
work at our warehouse in Ettlingen, Germany, to see how they do things over there.
Because of the variety of products, clients, growers and farmers and the complex international supply chain, the work is really dynamic. Every day is different from the previous one and you can never predict what is going to happen. This keeps the work interesting, but also requires some flexibility. For instance, if there is a great storm, some containers arrive a day later than expected. This means that you will have a slow day, but tomorrow you will definitely be very busy.
The SanLucar company is growing quite rapidly in the Netherlands. Our operations here started in 2016 and have grown ever since. Now we are in the process of expansion and further optimization, which is why I was hired myself.
"There are ample opportunities for training and education"
This also offers possibilities to the quality technicians we are currently recruiting. There are ample opportunities for training and education, working internationally and work on the implementation of good ideas. For example: at the moment there are plans to further develop our supplier certification. This is important as we sometimes need to buy products from other suppliers when there are problems in our own supply chain (e.g. a batch is rejected due to poor quality). By visiting and auditing these local suppliers we can better assess quality issues that might arise there. This might become a task for the quality technicians in the future.”
If you have any questions regarding the Quality Technician vacancy or want to learn more about working at SanLucar in general, please contact Sathya van Velzen, recruiter at Professionals in Food on 085-1050122 or by e-mail via firstname.lastname@example.org. She will be happy to hear from you.
Are you looking to recruit new colleagues in the Dutch foodsector? Please contact us!