The People Behind the Plants
The Kolster Company was founded in 1944 in Boskoop, Holland (The Netherlands) during WW2 by Peter’s grandfather. They sold shrubs for landscaping. He was a poor man, with nine children. Three of his children worked as unpaid help in the nursery, as was commonly the case back then.
As you can imagine, there was little to sell during the war. Travel was done on bicycle and deliveries made by a cycle carrier. Sadly, Peter’s grandfather died unexpectedly at the age of 56 in 1952. This was the same year Peter was born. Peter’s father and uncles carried on in the business, making it a success, and growing it much larger over the years.
In 1970, at the young age of 18, Peter was asked to manage the nursery because one of his uncles had to leave the business. He loved the propagation of plants and was happy to manage the day-to-day responsibilities while his father travelled, selling their plants throughout Europe.
In the early 90’s mixed bouquets became popular all over the world. Peter recognized some of the berries and decorative leaves in the bouquets as the precise plants his father sold to the landscape trade. He saw huge possibilities in the cut flower industry and began researching and trialing shrubs of all kinds to be used for cuts.
Peter always managed to stay ten steps ahead of the competition. He started breeding first for cuts, and then in 2000, they began breeding for the gift or pot crop market. The breeding started small, but today he has a full time breeder on staff and cooperates exclusively with several outside breeders. They also collaborate with several small companies who are also breeding.
The Kolster Company now has licensed growers in more then 70 countries, all over the world. Peter doesn’t make the crosses anymore. He is the “idea man” – offering technical support and setting up new business relationships, traveling 1/3 of the year to visit clients and agents. He still loves to be involved on the breeding side, and he helps to guide the breeders and make selections every year.
Under his watch, the business has grown, but it still remains a family-owned business.
Aside from Peter and his wife Tiny, The Kolster Company is now owned by his two sons Robert-Jan and Martin, his brother-in-law Arno Nolet, and one former employee, Wouter den Hollander.
When he is not traveling to world forging new partnerships and overseeing the direction of the breeders and the company, Peter loves to spend time with his two grandchildren. He’s a granddad who loves to play and teach them about the wonders of nature, so they adore him. Peter also says his work is his hobby, so he loves to travel and look for new plants and to dabble in some breeding here and there all the time. Peter often enjoys a long, leisurely bike ride with his dog at his side when he’s not off traveling. He loves his family a lot and can’t wait to spend time with them.
As for sons Robert-Jan and Martin, Robert-Jan enjoys gardening and a good glass of wine. He’s got quite the sense of humor too, always cracking jokes. And Martin is the soccer player in the family. He spends his free time training and scoring lots of goals as the center forward for his team in the Netherlands.
Some of the new plants we are representing from Kolster are: