It all started with a field cauldron...
Helmus Spoelbedrijf was founded at the beginning of the previous century. Records show that the flower bulb nursery, which Albert Helmus junior took over from his father (also named Albert Helmus) in 1938, was registered with the KAVB as far back as 1907.
Cauldron & burner
Albert Helmus junior treated his daffodils in what was known as a field cauldron at the time. “That was nothing more than a cauldron with a petroleum burner underneath”, says Rien Helmus, who worked at the company until 2002. “You could control the temperature in the cauldron by turning up the flame or by turning it down. However that was not accurate enough for Albert. And the capacity of just a few bags of flower bulbs per treatment cycle was not fast enough either.”
Hot water cauldrons & crane
In 1948, Albert Helmus junior designed and developed a system with a top-mounted crane in collaboration with an engineering company called Lakeman. “From that time on it was possible to load approximately 30 bags on a platform, which was then hoisted into the hot water cauldron using the crane.” Other growers became interested in the idea and shipped their daffodils to Albert for treatment. As demand increased, the system was expanded to include more hot water cauldrons and the crane was modified to allow it to access all of the cauldrons. “We still use the principles of this system today, but in a more modern form.”
Stricter requirements & loyal customers
The phytosanitary requirements became ever more strict when export volumes to America increased strongly at the beginning of the 1950s. At the time, the hot water cauldrons were also used to wash products clean. In order to make this process more effective, Albert Helmus junior developed a special rinsing machine in 1956. The fact that he had gained the commitment of five major exporters to have their products washed by him for a specific period made this financially feasible. Two of those exporters are still customers of Helmus Spoelbedrijf.
Albert Helmus junior formed a general partnership with his sons Rien and Hans in 1962. When Albert Helmus junior retired in 1980, the partnership became a private limited company. Rien and Hans have now transferred ownership of the business to the next generation: Epco and Marcel.