After the Netherlands, Denmark is the most important supplier of piglets for VAEX’s trading activities. Every year, more than 350,000 piglets are transported to another destination in Europe. Most of those Danish piglets are handled by H&S Westergaard A/S. H&S Westergaard A/S first did business with VAEX in 1985, but it did not really join the VAEX family until five years ago. How does co- owner Søren Westergaard feel about the ever-closer working relationship with VAEX?
Who is Søren Westergaard?
"I was born in Sunds in 1975. My father traded in pigs and cattle and had a transport company. I took business studies at Herning Handelsschool and I attended the vocational training school for livestock and meat in Neumühle in Germany. I have run the trading company with my brother Henrik since 2005. We now have 28 employees”.
What are the key activities of your company?
"Buying and selling piglets is our company's core activity. We sell about 35,000 piglets per week. Buying sows for slaughter in our slaughterhouse in Sevel and selling sow meat is a good second branch. We also trade in breeding cattle and beef cattle and we have fourteen lorries for transporting livestock”.
How long have you been doing business with VAEX?
"We have a working relationship of more than 35 years. My father, Henrik, first did business with Toon and Leo Govers in 1985. From then on, business was done on an incidental basis. But for the past five years we have been working more closely with VAEX”.
In which areas do you collaborate with VAEX?
"Mainly for export of piglets. We work together to ensure that piglets are delivered to the right destination in Europe. VAEX also commissions us to collect heifers in Denmark for export to third countries. In addition, we collaborated in 2020 to trade in carcasses of slaughtered pigs. One of our fixed sales channels was cut off due to corona issues. VAEX helped us find other distribution channels”.
How would you describe the relationship with VAEX?
"I can sum it up in one word: good. Communication lines are short and we are always ready to help each other”.
What challenges do you see ahead?
"Our business is and will always be dynamic. But, in the last year was particularly difficult because we had to deal with the effects of COVID-19 and the outbreak of African swine fever in Germany. We will always have to keep adapting to the highs and lows in the market”.
What are you proud of?
"The first thing that comes to mind is my wife and my three children. We have succeeded in finding an acceptable balance between work and home life. Hard work and long hours are not bad things if the time you spend together is quality time. We even managed to enjoy a couple of short holidays together during the hectic year 2020.”
What are you allergic to?
"If people don't keep their commitments. People should stick to their word”.
Søren Westergaard is married to Christina and they have three children. Sofie is 20 years old, Emil 17 and Frederik 16.
What is your favourite food? "A good steak or fish burger in the 'Skagen fiskrestaurant' in Skagen. I like to drink a nice glass of red wine or a beer with it”.
Are you a sporty person? "I do two very different sports as hobby: badminton and football”.
Where is your favourite holiday destination? "A beach holiday at the most northerly point of Denmark - Skagen. But I also enjoy skiing in the Alps.
Which brand of car suits you best? "Life is safer and more comfortable when you drive a Volvo”.