Behind the scenes at archery distributor JVD

The Dutch company has become one of the largest archery distributors in the world. By Mimi Landström

JVD Archery, based in the Netherlands, has been moving bows around the world for quite some time. It now has over 40 years of experience in distribution and supplies archery gear to over 80 countries.

Founded in 1974 by Jan van Drunen (hence the name), JVD Archery started as a small local archery store in the Netherlands. Within a few years, the company grew and expanded to a warehouse alongside the archery store.

This allowed for goods to be distributed as well as sold on site. In 2007, the decision was made to close the retail store in order to focus on distribution and services to archery dealers across the globe. 

Since 2007, JVD has grown to become Europe’s largest archery distributor and supplier. Based just west of the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, where the World Archery Championships were held in 2019, they supply hundreds of the best known brands such as Hoyt, Easton, PSE, Mathews and Win&Win.

They offer several private brands like target faces directly to the market. The warehouse holds over 10,000 bows and 250,000 arrow shafts at any one time, all ready to be shipped around the world. JVD Outdoor, a related company under the same roof, also serves the professional and international outdoor market.

With a majority of archery products being produced in the USA, Korea, China and Europe, JVD’s role is to effectively bridge the gap from manufacturer to retailer.

JVD has set a clear strategy of being the best in class when it comes to supplying the world of archery, not only with the package of products and services, but also by offering added value. As they put it: “The ultimate customer experience is our goal and we want to be the best at it.”

The vast majority of archery businesses around the world are small, often family-run operations, and not many have the scale and resources to take advantage of the most modern business technologies.

Since 2011, the company has been housed in an ultra-modern 43,000 square foot (2,000 m2) building, and uniquely uses a state-of-the-art automatic machine-operated order picking system to retrieve goods.

Around 90% of orders placed with JVD are taken care of by the Automatic Tote System (ATS) allowing for faster product retrieval and shipping. The ATS, together with a team of warehouse employees, enables a majority of the orders to be picked, packaged and delivered within 48 hours.

2018 was a particularly notable year at the company. The company went through a rebrand whilst also combining forces with the Kings of Archery tournament to give rise to the Kings of Archery series: JVD Open, which has quickly become one of the staple archery events on the indoor calendar.

The partnership also established a 200m2 exhibition floor for the trade show, for suppliers to show off their best and newest products. It also brought a new and expanded seminar programme on a wide variety of topics to help any archer or shop.

Two Dutch Olympics: Account Manager Fred van Zutphen with Sjef van den Berg (Olympicans both!)

The goal is to bring European archers an experience similar to The Vegas Shoot in the USA, making it the primary annual festival of archery on this side of the globe.

I spoke to Patricia de Pinth, Marketing & Customer Experience Coordinator about the current experience, and asked: what is it like to work at JVD Archery? “Working here means that you will never know exactly how your day will look like, as there is always something fun, exciting or interesting that occurs.”

“Obviously, the primary process is the same, you find your workspace, get coffee or tea, turn on your computer and then the day begins.”

“We always try to seize new opportunities and we want to find out interesting market insights and act upon them as quickly as possible. We are always open to new launches and interesting social media trends, to ensure the market is aware of interesting products that are in stock, not just the new products being brought to the market.

“We try to stay ahead of the market’s demand and are constantly looking to improve in the way we work, the products we supply and everything included.”

JVD believes that its strengths come from having the space, expertise and resources to operate under one roof, with all departments. “This makes it easy to stay in contact with each other and work together as a unit. The working atmosphere is informal and people are always eager and prepared to step in to help and go the extra mile.

“Through this team effort, we can get the products in the warehouse displayed on our website and social media channels, and offered and shipped to our dealers easily. We pride ourselves on our trustworthy stock level displays on the website.”

“We also have an internal activities committee (ACT) and a corporate social responsibility committee to take good care of our personnel and the environment. The ACT is a group of employees from every department in the business, basically giving everyone a voice. They are responsible for creating a sociable environment, also outside of working time.

“Friday afternoon gatherings are organised for everyone in the offices and warehouse, along with bigger events (normally four times a year) like for example boat trips, city trips or BBQ parties. Another important task for the committee is ensuring all employees get a birthday card sent to them on their birthdays.”

“The JVD University is a program we run to educate all staff members on the most important essentials of archery and archery products that JVD has to offer. We have employees that are active high level archers and they act as teachers for their ‘students’, meaning our employees who are not coming from having an archery background.”

How many members of staff do you have working here? “We employ nearly 60 colleagues, excluding interns. Our interns work in several departments like marketing, sales and sourcing and learn everything there is to know about the products and the industry trends.

“Many interns stick around or come back to us after they graduate. Our workforce is made up of 40% male and 60% female employees with an average age of 36 years old.

“We are a proud and multicultural team of diverse nationalities including Chinese, Columbian, British, Polish, Italian and French employees. Most of our employees have been with us for quite a while already and we are proud of the culture and atmosphere we have that has been created over the years to make them feel at home.”

“A solid part of our employees are also those who are archers themselves, some even international champions. People like our founder himself, Jan van Drunen, but also his son and current CEO of the company, Johan van Drunen. People like Pascal Van der Veeken who is responsible for customer support and Jody Vermeulen in our sourcing department.

A view of the main packing area

“They are all archers. We have Rick van der Ven working in our customer support department, Fred van Zutphen working in sales, Christel van Berkel working in sourcing and business processes and Naomi Jones working in our marketing department. Jody holds the European compound women’s record at 50m at 710 points.

“Naomi Jones is an indoor World Cup winner (Nimes and Morocco) and Fred was the first Dutch archer that who made it to the first number one position in the world ranking. It is safe to say there is an abundance of amazing archery talent at JVD!”

I also spoke to Cora Peters, who works in the inbound department and explains what a typical day at the company looks like. “Every day, I look forward going to work and see what this working day will bring. I started working at JVD six years ago and there hasn’t been a day when I started my working day reluctantly.”

Just some of the hundreds of thousands of stock items

“After working for three years in the Inbound department, I was asked if I would like to become a Team Leader of this department… the goal is to create a good process and work flow from the moment the products arrive here by truck until the boxes open and we book everything in the right way.

“We try to do it all as quickly as possible and in the right order so to enable us to guarantee continuous stock levels, and the products can be sold as quickly as possible.”

“My colleague, Thijs Dam, is also a Team Leader and in his role he is responsible for the outbound department. Together with his team, he ensures that the booked products are picked and neatly packed on time so they can be sent to our customers and dealers all over the world. We are excited when our customers and dealers are satisfied and want to place their next order with JVD again.”

What about the very newest archery kit? Can you send some to me? “We prefer to receive the products as close to the launch date as possible, or in some cases, even before the launch date so we can quickly meet the demand of our dealers (while the news is still hot).” 

“We want to keep the time-to-market as short as possible and provide our dealers with fast delivery times. Our core business is to supply our dealers and many national archery organisations but we do not deliver to private customers directly.”

Who has been to the office recently? “Over the years we have seen the likes of Steve Anderson, Martin Damsbo, Peter Elzinga, Sjef van den Berg, Steve Wijler, Braden Gellenthien and his lovely wife Tanja Jensen, Paul Tedford, Dave Cousins, Simon Fairweather, Sebastien Flute, Brady Ellison, Albina Loginova, Vladimar Esheev, Stanislav Zabrodsky, Michele Frangilli, Rick McKinney, Justin Huish, John Dudley and many more.”

“We like to see them in the office, but it would be even better to see them at the Kings of Archery series: JVD Open 2021 (13 & 14 November 2021)!” 

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