Netherlands consulate sells Dutch expertise in water pumps, flowers, bicycling
By Ryan Kelly
Miami's Dutch consulate is focused on matching small and mid-sized Netherlands-based companies with import demands in South Florida and also aims to attract American businesses to the Netherlands.
"Our work is finding a match between Dutch excellence and American demand," said Arend Gouw, consul and deputy chief of mission for the Consulate-General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. "We identify pro-activity in the market here."
A few areas of Dutch enterprise in the region include water management, bicycling and the flower business, he said.
Dutch expertise in water management dates from the 13th century, he said, as Holland's residents were forced to find ways to stay dry in a country where a quarter of the land is below sea level.
Water pumps and other tools of trade began making their way through the US Southern region, he said, after Dutch companies started exporting them following the devastating Hurricane Katrina.
The cruise industry is also a major focus of Dutch business.
Representatives from the Netherlands work in South Florida to sell ports in their country as a destination for cruise ships.
"The companies I represent, we do a lot of business in South Florida," said René Kitzen, US representative for Felison Cruise Terminal and Zeeland Cruise Port, ports in the Netherlands that Mr. Kitzen tries to arrange as stops for US cruise ships.
To persuade cruise ship executives, Mr. Kitzen focuses most of his efforts in Miami-Dade, where he resides.
"Most of the decisions are made here in South Florida," he said.
Mr. Kitzen and his team set up central pavilions at Cruise Shipping Miami, the international cruise convention held annually in Miami Beach, and cruise3sixty, an international travel agency conference of the cruise industry.
In recent years, ports in the Netherlands have enjoyed a 20% year-over-year jump in business from cruise lines, he estimated.
"For us, it's been a steady growth," he said.
Mr. Kitzen and Mr. Gouw also work with Dutch businessmen moving into South Florida to get acclimated, a process that is much easier with the consulate's help.
"The consulate has been instrumental for us…," Mr. Kitzen said. "People feel more important because they are invited by the consulate."
Other Dutch companies that have found success in Miami-Dade include Ruinemans Aquarium, the wholesale distributor of aquarium fish; Koen Pack USA, a floral packager; and TMF Group, an accounting and legal services firm.
Mr. Gouw is leading the office during a transition between consuls general. The new consul general, Simone Filippini, is to arrive in about two weeks.
During this time, Mr. Gouw's team has been involved with other activities intended to benefit business in his home country, including the recent addition of a direct flight from Miami to Amsterdam four times a week by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in collaboration with Delta Air Lines.
Since service began four months ago, close to 30,000 passengers have flown using KLM's direct flight, according to travel figures from the Miami-Dade Aviation Department.
The new flight should boost travel for both the Netherlands and South Florida, Mr. Gouw said. "I think that should benefit tourism on both sides."
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