WiW Talent Spotlight: Janna Horsthuis, MD, Robinson’s

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Janna Horsthuis is the Managing Director of Robinson’s, which was established in 1886 and has evolved, over five generations, into one of the Isle of Man’s best-known companies.

Today, the foodservice retailer and wholesaler employs over 175 people and manages over 8,000 product lines. Janna is excited to be taking the family business into the future.

How long have you worked in your current job?

I was appointed Managing Director in September taking reign from my father, John. I have worked in the business since 2002 and have been involved in all areas over the years but focused on foodservice the past 10 years.

What are your day to day responsibilities

My role has slightly changed since becoming Managing Director as I have to focus on the business as a whole and make my team have a clear strategy, objectives but most importantly being diverse.

Robinsons team

Robinsons team

Buying is an area I focus a large part of my day along with selling to our fabulous customers.

I love to stay involved in this area as talking to our customers is key to building relationships and always offering the best service.

How long have you worked in wholesale?

15 years. The changes have been incredible with the introduction of voice technology picking, online sales, diverse range of products and this industry is ever changing.

What’s been the toughest moment in your career?

In February 2017, we introduced a new IT voice recognition system, Swords Sandersons. The background work behind a complete system change was over 18 months of data prep and training so this was a huge challenge for myself and a small team.

On implementation, our productivity increased by 20% and picking accuracy increased to over 97.9% we aim to improve further still. The benefits to our operations team are in turn making a great positive impact on our level of customer service. We aim to be app-driven by the new year, enabling our customers to place and monitor orders online

Janna with her team

Janna with her team

How about the most rewarding?

The most rewarding has to be when I was appointed MD. Even though I am a family member this position took a lot of tough years. Being the only female Director of 9 men change took a long time to come but I’m happy to say this challenge is complete and we have a fantastic board with lots of skills sets.

 What do you love most about your job?

We are unique on the Island in delivering goods in both ‘business to business’ and ‘business to customer’ markets. We invest in our people through training, and treat our team and customers as we wish to be treated ourselves. I can talk a lot! Dealing face to face with customers and staff over the years gives you confidence. I don’t mind talking to or in front of people. I’ve been involved in every aspect of the business and that makes you versatile. No two days are the same in our business, so instilling the belief that everyone belongs to the wider Robinson’s family is something we have always been proud of.

Janna with her husband and two sons

Janna with her husband and two sons

 Where would you like to be in five years?

Working hard and looking back at where we have changed from the 5 years previously. My aim is to encourage more women to join this industry whether it’s order picking, delivery drivers, tele-sales it’s a fantastic & challenging career choice.

 How you do like your eggs: boiled, scrambled, poached or fried?

Scrambled of course! Speed is everything first thing in the morning to get the kids fed off to school & into work.

 What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t be scared to try something – if you fail, just try again. Give your all, and give everything a go. This was instilled in me by my family and I’m lucky that I grew up in a family business where you can learn from your mistakes and try to do things differently.

Janna and her nana

Janna and her nana

 What’s the best book or film you’ve ever read?

The Chimp Paradox – The Mind management by Prof Steve Peters

 If you could change one thing about your job what would it be?

Nothing, what’s is better than buying, trying & selling some of the best foods available.

 Is there anyone you really look up to – who is it and why?

I am hugely fortunate I am continuing a legacy & what better role models than my family. My grandparents, followed by my father and uncles, who have built a huge business and made it so diverse. My parents were both very career-driven.

I am extremely lucky my grandmother who is the original Robinson and ran the business is 90 and seeing me now take the business into the 5th generation.

I have a lot to live up to, delivering and reinforcing our own ‘Freedom to Flourish’ ethos in an increasingly competitive and dynamic marketplace.

More information about Women in Wholesale



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