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Employee Interview

Rob ten Cate,
Director Operations, Winclove

How do people feel about their job at Winclove, and what drives them in their day-to-day work? This month we interview Rob ten Cate, he joined Winclove five months ago as Director of Operations.

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     Rob ten Cate

You’ve been working at Winclove for five months now. What have been your experiences so far?

I noticed that the people at Winclove smile a lot, “the smiling faces of Winclove” – that must be a good sign! I am keen to go to work each morning because I feel I can really help people.

All sorts of people work at Winclove, from researchers and marketeers to production employees and managers. They have varying backgrounds, skills and experiences, and therefore each group has its own jargon. I believe I’m good at understanding and speaking those different languages. When a researcher says something, I’m able to translate that into production terms. I enjoy helping people understanding each other, I’m so to say an interpreter.



Could you give an example?

We’re currently working on the issue of ‘shelf life’, this concept has a different meaning to researchers than it does to people working in marketing functions. Customers want to know for how long they can use a product: what guarantees can we give? However, ‘guarantee’ is not a concept used in biological science. It applies to machines, not to living organisms. After all, you can’t guarantee someone that he or she will live to reach the age of 80. In the same way you can’t issue guarantees on living bacteria – you can only state expectations. I try to combine both worlds and I am proud that it seems to work.


How do you see the future for the probiotic market and Winclove?

I have every confidence in the growth of probiotics in general and Winclove in particular. Health is ‘hot’ and this trend translates to probiotics. People realize that nutrition is critical to their health. The American market for food supplements and self-care products is exhibiting strong growth, and Europe will follow suit. Winclove’s strength lies in our exclusive attention to probiotics. They are always our number one priority. ‘Nothing can beat focus’, as they say. Customers can rely on us to continue working on probiotics and not suddenly switch to, say, selling vitamins. We will always develop new probiotics, and keep refining our existing formulations.



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‘Customer intimacy’ has been defined as the theme for 2017. How will this be translated into practical terms?

Helping people means attending to the needs of our customers, and vice versa. I believe that in the future our priorities will focus even more on the customer’s wishes and requirements. At the moment, our product development is still mainly driven by science, call it ‘technology push’, and that will gradually shift to ‘demand pull’. More than ever, we will define our priorities and allocation of capacities (money, people) based on customer demand. In the past period the first steps in this process have been taken, setting up Winclove’s Healthcare Department and expanding our sales and marketing capacity are examples of this, and we will continue on that path.  




Are there any exciting developments on the horizon for Operations?

At Operations we have, in order of importance, three priorities: 1) quality, 2) speed and reliability in our deliveries, and 3) efficiency. We will uncompromising prioritize quality over efficiency. An important matter that we are currently working on is making slight modifications to our process that will enable us to faster manufacture smaller quantities, for both bulk and packaged products. This requires not only technical adjustments but primarily a change in mindset and the organisation of our processes. What is exceptional now has to become the standard in the future. Furthermore, our marketing and sales people came up with lots of great other ideas. Together with our customers, we will have to investigate if these are worth pursuing! The faces at Winclove keep on smiling!






Employee interview

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