About us

After a year of travelling the world together Piet Spaargaren and Siebren van Doorn started a nursery in Sri Lanka in 1984. Working with a local partner, the entrepreneurs started up the Sunflower Lanka Ltd. nursery. The main plants cultivated were Croton and Cordyline. Back in the Netherlands they set up the company Spaargaren van Doorn B.V. The first plants from Sri Lanka arrived at the small nursery in Rijsenhout. The greenhouse here, however, was soon too small and the entrepreneurs moved to a larger nursery in De Kwakel.

The beginnings of Spado International Ltd.

In 1992 a second nursery was established in Sri Lanka. This nursery was larger than Sunflower Lanka and was named Spado International Ltd. In 1999 the decision was taken to split the companies. The local partner took over Sunflower Lanka. From then on Spado International focused on the export market.

Broadening the product range

In 1995 the decision was taken to add leaves to the product range. We bought land in the mountains of Sri Lanka, where the climate was good for growing, and cows for the fertiliser and milk. The company grew well and there are now 5000 pepper plants, 3500 eucalyptus trees and 1.5 million plants for leaf production. The leaves are transported by air each week to supply the Dutch and Japanese markets. Another property was bought in addition to the land in the mountains. Rubber trees and leaves were cultivated, including the Sandriana and Phoenix varieties.

Development of the exclusive lines

Spaargaren and van Doorn are always in search of new products to extend the range. In the 90s they decided to develop a separate line, which is managed by Marianne van Doorn. In addition to plant arrangements, pottery and natural materials were added to the product range. The exclusive plant arrangements proved to be a success. The use of natural materials such as tea wood, acacia seed, coir and mintolla distinguishes the line from the existing arrangements

Leaf export

‘The Leaf Company’ was set up in 2008 with the help of a Dutch government subsidy. Here again, 80 cows are kept for manure. The Leaf Company is now self-supporting, with leaves exported mainly to Japan and the Netherlands. At the start of 2012 the Spaargaren van Doorn B.V. commercial nursery was renamed Spado Im- en Export B.V.

The importance of sustainability

Sustainability and originality are central to the company. We have a pottery line, with pots hand-turned by local potters in Sri Lanka. The pots are fired in a traditional wood kiln. The soil used for the plants is fertilised with the manure from the company’s own cows. The clay used for the pots consists of manure and coir dust. We try to recycle continuously throughout the production process. In addition to the manure, the cows also produce milk for the local community. The shadow halls protect employees and plants against the tropical sun.

Opportunities for staff

Spado International Ltd. makes extensive use of the knowledge of the local community. Locals take care of the supply of natural decorative materials. These are processed in the florist’s in the Netherlands, or used as decorations in plant arrangements. We offer our employees in Sri Lanka opportunities, including a paid internship programme in the Netherlands. Back in Sri Lanka these employees often move into supervisory roles, and can develop from there to join the management team. The company also offers employees the opportunity to take English lessons.