Moments that matter

We all have moments in our lives that have shaped us, that have made us who we are today, that have led us to where we are today. Moments that really matter. You do not always realize the impact of what is happening in the moment itself, it often only becomes clear afterwards how much influence something has had.

Sometimes you are in control yourself, and sometimes you have to leave it to others. The latter option is not always easy for an entrepreneur. And occasionally something just falls into your hands, like a gift!

This overview contains some big and small moments that have all had an effect on who I am today. I am grateful for each and every one of them.


December 6, 2016 – PhD Sander

A very special day today. Our son Sander has his defense for his PhD where he has been working on for the last couple of years at AMOLF in Amsterdam. The title of his research is: “Quantifying limits and losses in nanoscale photovoltaics”. After answering all questions of the professors, he finally got what he deserved. Sander succeeds: CUM LAUDE!

November 11, 2016 – Opening Priva Inc.

The official opening of our new office in Camarillo, California is today! The opening is outside at the parking lot, with a Dutch food truck from LA and some local BBQ. This office will focus mainly on the Soft Fruit market in California. We are looking forward to work with the local growers and are building up our team. Maarten, general manager from Priva Mexico, is the new GM of this office from today on and will move to California during summer 2017.


June 14, 2016 – Greentech Innovation Award

Priva Kompano Deleaf-Line is the first product, worldwide, that provides growers with an economically viable fully automated alternative for manual deleafing of tomato crops. According to the Greentech Innovation Award the Kompano ‘heralds a new era in the international horticulture. Reason enough for the jury to reward Priva’s development of the robot with the Greentech Innovation Award in 2016. A wonderful price for an intensive innovation process with growers involved!

Meet the Kompano!

April 14, 2016 – Innovation Expo

I was invited to give the introduction at the launch of the Sustainable Urban Delta by Prime Minister Mark Rutte. This is during the opening of the Innovation Expo 2016 in EYE Amsterdam. In this introduction I ask the Prime Minister to support the mission of the Sustainable Urban Delta.

After the presentation, I also got interviewed by RTL Z for the television program future makers. They ask me about my vision of the Sustainable Urban Delta.

March 9, 2016 – AACSB Influential Leader 2015 award

On September 22, 2015 AACSB publishes a list of 100 ‘influential leaders’. I am very honored that I’m on the list! On March 9, 2016 I receive a nice award from the Rotterdam School of Management, and I give a lecture on innovation within family companies.

The photo shows me with Steef van de Velde (Dean of RSM) and Justin Smith (Professor of Corporate Entrepreneurship at RSM)


October 27, 2015 – Green Dragon Lake

Priva has partnered with Dutch companies, knowledge institutions and the government to develop a comprehensive sustainable strategy for Green Dragon Lake, a suburb of Beijing. I present this plan during the state visit of King Willem-Alexander and a representative of China Development Orient, a development company affiliated to the Chinese Development Bank.

May 18, 2015 – New Champion

Priva is named “New Champion” by the Financieele Dagblad. The jury was impressed by the ability of our company to continue innovating even in times of crisis. It provided a nice newspaper article!

April 7, 2015 – Hannover Messe

At the Hannover Messe Top Sector Energy presents the theme ‘Holland: a Sustainable Urban Delta’ in the Holland Pavilion. It is very special that FME (Hans van der Spek) and Top Sector Energy (Manon Jones) translated my story on the Sustainable Urban Delta into the market and application during Hannover Messe.

The Holland Pavilion showcases all kinds of integrated solutions and innovations relating to some of the issues faced by growing metropolises.


April 1, 2015 – Committee for Entrepreneurship and Finance

This committee was established in 2011 as a follow-up to the Council for Microfinance. Along with Queen Maxima and other members of the committee, we are committed to strengthening the growth potential of SMEs, with a focus on small businesses in the Netherlands, with all our knowledge, experience and networks. The members are Harold Goddijn (chairman), Her Majesty Queen Maxima, Diederik Laman Trip, Occo Roelofsen and me.

March 16, 2015 – 12.5 years at Priva

Today I celebrate 12.5 years of working at Priva! I am surprised by all my colleagues with a champagne breakfast at Priva! Working in a family business has its charms 🙂


October 23, 2014 – Launch of Sustainable Urban Delta

My website is live! Here I collect outstanding examples of the Dutch economy, representing a major reference project for the Netherlands. The Netherlands needs a common ambition again, a theme that inspires and actually connects the top sectors! Only then can we make an international statement and excel on one theme: the creation of a future-oriented and socially responsible life in a Sustainable Urban Delta.

September 25, 2014 – 55 years of Priva

On September 25, Priva has been in existence for 55 years! In addition, my father Jan Prins, the founder of Priva, turns 80. Time to celebrate with all our colleagues, partners and family!


April 1, 2014 – Premier Rutte

On Tuesday, April 1 the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, visits Dynaplant and Priva. The Prime Minister is informed about the progress of a project in China, in which Priva is involved as a partner. This is a project with GC Flower to develop the largest flower park in the world in Guangzhou. Bulb growers and traders are also involved. They visit Priva along with the Prime Minister.

January 30, 2014 – MVO Lezing

On January 30, I give a lecture at CSR Netherlands on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of CSR Netherlands. In the presence of King Willem-Alexander, I have to opportunity to give my opinion about the Netherlands as the greenest city in the world and on how we can earn money as a country in this area.


2013 – Travelling

In 2013, for the first time, I am undertaking longer periods of traveling. In this way I not only manage to visit our offices and clients, but it also allows me to make new contacts and explore new markets. So I travel to South Korea, Mexico, California, Michigan, Canada, China, Taiwan and Japan.

October 6, 2013 – Brazilië

Between 6 and 12 October I travel to Brazil. I have been invited by the Foreign Trade and Development Minister, Lilianne Ploumen, to join her as a business leader during her mission. I have never been part of a trade mission and I’ve never been to Brazil. A particularly informative trip in all respects.


June 27, 2013 – Diploma

Laura receives her BBA in International Hotel Management from the NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences. After studying Hospitality Management at EuroCollege in Rotterdam, she entered the fast-track course at the NHTV. After three years she graduates at Higher Vocational Education level.

April 30, 2013 – Kroning van Koning Willem-Alexander

The members of the Advisory Board receive an official invitation to attend the coronation. That was very special. We are among the 500 guests who are invited by the Royal Family. The ceremony was very beautiful. Everyone was touched by the King’s speech. Two thousand people in the church and you could hear a pin drop. At the end of the afternoon there is an hour-long reception in the Royal Palace for the members of the States General and other invited guests. Walking behind the others toward the front, I walk alongside the credence table in the Nieuwe Kerk. The constitution is now gone, but the three symbols of royal authority and dignity are still there: the crown, the scepter and the orb.


December 6, 2012 – Visit of Water Advisory Committee

Prince Willem-Alexander visits Priva on Thursday, December 6. This is a huge surprise for (almost) all colleagues! The Prince is Chairman of the Water Advisory Committee, of which I myself am a member. This time the Committee is meeting at Priva, and obviously we are allowed to show the Prince and his entourage around the Priva Campus.

November 8, 2012 – Meiny 50 jaar!

It’s my birthday! I’m 50 years old! To celebrate, my colleagues have organized a big surprise. On a pretext invented by my daughter Laura, I am lured to Priva in the morning. A herald welcomes me and all my colleagues are singing in the Atrium. There is also a giant cake! Happily, this nice surprise is filmed.


October 11, 2012 – Verwey – Jonker/SER lecture

Together with former politician Femke Halsema and philosopher Marli Huijer, I contribute to the Verwey-Jonker lecture at the Social and Economic Council in The Hague. The theme is “Good life in times of crisis.” This lecture forms the basis of the Sustainable Urban Delta ideology.

September 11, 2012 – Graduation

Sander graduates in Physics from the University of Utrecht. After six years of study, he can call himself MSc! He is now a PhD in solar cells and nanotechnology at FOM Institute AMOLF.

May 16, 2012 – Paul is 50!

Paul is 50 years old on May 17! Laura surprises him with a visit by the family in the evening before we leave on a business trip to China. Because Paul is a harbor pilot and we live near the Waterweg, Laura has made a nice banner for the boats that sail by.


2011 – Water Advisory Committee

In 2011 I become a member of the Water Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee provides advice, both solicited and unsolicited, to the Minister of Infrastructure and Environment. Until his coronation in 2013, Prince Willem-Alexander was Chairman of this Committee. It is a very interesting period in which I learn a lot about our unending struggle with water. But also about the quality of our drinking water, surface water and new innovations.

October 13, 2011 – California

I go on a trip to California for the first time to do some research. Does the state of California really ban the use of methyl bromide? A huge milestone and opportunity for Priva, because growers will no longer be able to grow in the ground, but will have to move to hydroponic cultivation. The start of seriously saving water! On the road with Heiner Leith, a professor at UC Davis.


June 4, 2010 – TEDx

Together with Brigitte Paulissen, Cabaret Coach and Storyteller, I’m on stage at TEDx Rotterdam talking about the subject “Greenhouses energize the city”.


November 25, 2009 – Priva wins WNF Award

Priva wins the first Cleantech Star of the WNF, the Dutch division of the World Wildlife Fund. The price is awarded to companies that are particularly praiseworthy in the use of clean energy in the technology sector. The WNF has recognized Priva with this award because of our contribution in the areas of innovation, economic potential and CO2 reduction.


November 18 – 21, 2009 – Dario Fo

The atrium of our Priva Campus is transformed for a week into a beautiful theater, where an impressive opera called ‘Flames’, about our family business, is performed in front of a sell-out crowd. Some Priva colleagues also take part in the production. The opera composer Bob Zimmerman calls the atrium ‘the most beautiful concert hall in the Netherlands’!

November 12, 2009 – APG Amsterdam

APG organizes a seminar on the occasion of the opening of the new ‘Symphony’ office building in the Zuidas district of Amsterdam. The theme was responsible investing. APG works on the principle of sustainable and innovative pension asset management. I debate with Prince Friso and Rob Lake.


October 8, 2009 – Reims

I am invited together with Paul to the Maison Veuve Clicquot in Reims, France. This champagne house is the sponsor of the “Businesswoman of the Year” award and all the businesswomen have their own vine here!

September 25, 2009 – 50th anniversary of Priva

Priva has been in existence for 50 years! In addition, my father Jan Prins, Founder of Priva, celebrates his 75th birthday. There is a big party in the atrium of Priva.


July 31, 2009 – Varend Corso

As Businesswoman of the Year 2009, I have the honor of opening the Westland Floating Parade, the “Varend Corso”. The Varend Corso is an annual event that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors.

June 3, 2009 – Visit by Prime Minister Balkenende

Prior to a meeting of the Innovation Platform at Priva, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende visits the Priva Campus. “I am not surprised that the Businesswoman of the Year is from the Westland. Meiny Prins is a figurehead of Westland values. She has expanded a family business on the basis of realism and a respectful interaction with people and the environment”.


May 27, 2009 – President of Chile, Queen Beatrix and Princess Maxima

On May 27 I am a guest at the University of Wageningen. After the visit, there is a lunch with Queen Beatrix, Princess Maxima and the Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. All those present show a lot of interest in what Priva can do in the field of water reuse and energy saving.

March 26, 2009 – Pie from the Mayor!

Sjaak van der Tak, Mayor of the Westland, together with Alderman Duijvestijn, comes to Priva to congratulate me on my title Businesswoman of the Year 2009. And of course he brings pie, for everyone!

March 24, 2009 – We are all Businesswoman of the Year!

The morning after the announcement, we summon all our colleagues to the Priva Atrium to share the great news. There is a huge banner for me in the hall. As I walk down the stairs, I am greeted by spontaneous applause! It’s not just me being named the Businesswoman of the Year, we all did it together!


March 23, 2009 – Prix Veuve Clicquot 2009

I receive the ‘Prix Veuve Clicquot 2009’ on March 23. This prize, better known under the title ‘Businesswoman of the Year’, is awarded annually in 17 countries and aims to encourage female entrepreneurship and management. I receive this prize from European Commissioner Neelie Kroes in the Nieuwe Kerk in The Hague.


October 30, 2008 – China

My first business trip to China. I visit our office in Beijing and a few clients. From this year onward I will travel to China every year.


November, 2007 – Priva Campus

Three themes are important to me: new business, strategy and the Campus. The Priva Campus was the realization of my dream to bring these divisions together and ultimately create a single company in one insanely cool building. And that building is opened in 2007. The Campus exudes everything we consider important at Priva. It’s our business card, but also our home.


September, 2002 – Career switch

I start working at Priva, my father’s company, as Director of Strategy & New Business. Priva is a Dutch family business that supplies climate and process automation for greenhouses and buildings. The company is currently located in De Lier and in Delft, but also has other activities in the Netherlands.

July 27, 2002 – A puppy!

We have a puppy! A beautiful Leonberger – there are only 800 of this breed in the Netherlands. The dog puts on one kilogram in weight every week and is called Balou. A “third child” like this takes some getting used to. Eventually Balou will weigh 83 kilos!  


2000 – Night work

I’m in need of more business insight and begin studying Business Administration at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. My thesis deals with the structural and cultural barriers to innovation in family businesses. I conduct my research at Priva. It is hard work, and combining the family and a company results in many nocturnal hours in the study. With a lot of support from Paul, I achieve the desired result. After two years I graduate with high marks.


February 23, 1991 – Een dochter!

Our daughter Laura is born. Paul is still at sea a lot; it is hard for him to leave not only Sander and me, but now also his daughter. He gets the chance to realize his dream and changes his job from captain to become a pilot at the Harbor of Rotterdam. After working on ships for ten years, he is coming back home!


1990 – De Stal

In 1990 I set up my own design and communication office. First from home, later from a converted farmstead in Maasland. The design bureau is given an appropriate name: De Stal (The Stable). The company specializes in positioning and shaping brands in horticulture. In 2005, 15 staff members are working at De Stal and the company moves to Rotterdam. By joining forces with Proforma, De Stal grows into a strategic agency with 25 permanent employees and a network of freelancers.


1988 – KABK

After being a teacher for a few years, I begin studying at the Royal Academy of Art. In 1988 I graduate.


July 12, 1987 – A son!

Our son Sander is born. Paul is working in foreign trade and is promoted to first officer at his employer Jumbo Shipping. This means, however, that one week after Sander’s birth he has to leave again. I think he should take this opportunity, and so he leaves Sander and me behind for almost half a year. Happily, when Sander is 7 weeks old, we see each other in Portugal.


August 30, 1984 – Marriage

Today I marry Paul Mann.


Januari, 1982 – In front of the class

In 1982 I graduate from the Pedagogical Academy and start working as a teacher at a secondary school. I’m 20 years old when I find myself standing in front of the class. I teach geography and Dutch at De Morgenster school in Monster.


November 8, 1962 – My birth!

On November 8 I, M.M.C. (Meiny) Prins, am born in Delft. As the first child of Jan and Rita Prins. Later my sister Elly and my brother Reinder will be born.