Neerlandia Urk: more than 50 years' history
Neerlandia Urk is one of the largest and oldest fishing companies in Urk. The company was founded by Herman and Albert Romkes, who have both worked in the fishing industry for more than fifty years. The Romkes family was there at the beginning of what would become the flatfish centre of Europe, with Neerlandia Urk currently being one of the leading flatfish companies on the European continent.
The brothers started their company in 1972, with a shed and twelve filleters. The filleted fish was immediately transferred to the cold store at the auction and was sometimes also packaged. For frozen food customers, the product was stored in freezer storage. Rapid growth saw the company relocate to its own building on Urk's industrial estate in 1974.
The brothers were responsible for sales at that time and were very successful at it. Whenever they travelled, the customer base grew. Mostly they followed their intuition. They travelled to Lyon or the fish market in Paris. They learned sufficient French, German and English and in doing so really made their mark. The focus was initially on frozen products, after which they started producing fish fillets for England. But with the growth in its French and Italian customer base, Neerlandia Urk increasingly started trading in fresh fish.
The company expanded significantly in the 1980s. Herman and Albert bought out the other owners in 1991 and planned to relocate and build new premises. A bigger area was required for logistics and for trading in fresh fish. The fish auction relocated to the third phase of the industrial estate in 1997. In March 1998, Neerlandia purchased a plot directly behind the auction and in 2000 relocated its forty-five staff to fresh, open and contemporary premises.
A difficult period then followed these many successful years and tremendous effort was required in order for the company to survive. With fish prices halving, stocks needed to be devalued and the men needed to demonstrate their perseverance. They put their shoulders to the wheel, together with a dedicated team of employees who have a passion for the business.
Since 2009, the company has gained momentum and the markets have improved. Neerlandia Urk currently employs some 80 full-time and around 160 part-time staff. Herman and Albert are proud of their company and of the people who work with them to deliver top quality products every day.
Today, Neerlandia Urk still purchases its own fish, from the northern tip of Denmark to the Spanish border. The daily management is now in the hands of Herman and Albert's successors, and the company will soon also be transferred to 'the boys' who have worked at the company since their school days. Herman and Albert will form an Advisory Board for as long as their health allows.
The management is looking to the future with confidence. The North Sea is teeming with fish and Neerlandia Urk aims to widen its range as far as possible, with as many markets as possible.
Urk is and remains the flatfish centre of Europe and Neerlandia Urk is one of the main players.