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WoSJ Exclusive; Teun van Riel – the way from groom to creator

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Teun van Riel is a well known face in the showjumping world. Photo by Jenny Abrahamsson.Almost everyone that has been to a big show in Europe has seen Teun van Riel´s big blue lorry on the showground, packed with high quality products and often with Teun himself sitting and discussing things with a groom or a rider outside of the lorry. WoSJ just had to speak to the Dutch businessman and find out more about him and his companies; Horse Supplements, Equine Industry and the brand Trust Equestrian and what new products we can look forward to see in the nearest future.

We heard you were a groom before you started your business, is it true?

"Yes, I started to work as a groom when I was 14 or 15 and still went to school. Then after school I got in contact with a young rider in Holland and went to work for her. I had a couple of jobs and worked for Jan Tops and Michael Whitaker among others. After seven years as a groom I decided to quit; I thought that if I wouldn´t quit at that point I would be a groom forever. That was in -97."

And then?

"I started to work as a salesman for a Dutch company in Germany, but I missed the shows, all the riders, grooms and my friends. So in -99 I started my first business; Horse Supplements. In the beginning I just drove around and sold things from Cavalor, but then it developed and I sold other products as well. But I always sold the things that the grooms and riders were using, so it wasn´t always a standard assortment. In the beginning I drove around in my Renault Clio and visiting all my friends. They probably bought things from me out of pity", Teun says laughing.

"After a while I got products from England, America and France and since they weren´t that easy to find I could have them exclusive for a while."

Jeroen Dubbeldam is one of the TRUST amassadors. Photo by Jenny Abrahamsson.When did the company become so big?

"My brother joined the company at 2003 and did all the administration. A couple of years later we started with franchising. In 2007 we started Equine Industry, which is a company that distributes several brands, for example Kingsland, Dy'on, KEP Italia and of course TRUST Equestrian to Europe. At the moment we distribute products to around 800-900 stores and we are about 26 people in the company."

"Trust Equestrian, the private label of Equine Industry, started in 2005."

What is Trust all about?

"Trust is all about new ideas. Basically it is the result of good relations with grooms and riders. I have always been writing down all the ideas that came up about making products better, and now we, me and my team, are in the position to do something about those ideas. So one at the time we can develop all the things that have come up during the years."

"We get a lot of feedback from the grooms and riders, so that is why it is so important for me to be on shows."

Toni Hassmann is another one! Photo by Jenny Abrahamsson.So, how many shows do you visit every year?

"I am away about 29 weeks a year. But there aren´t that many shows as I for example go six weeks to Spain and four weeks to Austria. I have been doing so many shows during the years so now I have searched out the good ones such as Sunshine Tour, the Magna Racino tour in Austria which has a lot of potential, Hamburg, Valkenswaard, Aachen and the Bundeschampionat."

"Maybe we will do more shows in the future, but we don't want to do more shows in countries where we have shops and agents. In order to protect clients from the wholesale company. Also for the franchisers of Teun van Riel Horse supplements we don't want to stand in their way. They need the full right to sell the products in their country."

Which show is the best of the best?

"Aachen is crazy! It can't get bigger and it is our busiest show."

Do you work with all three companies?

"Yes, but I spend about 70% in Trust developing new products. Trust is my little baby!"

Sandro Boy with an outdoor rug from Trust. Photo by Trust. So, what are your goals for the companies?

"For Horse Supplements our only goal is to keep on doing what we are doing now. To sell high quality products and give good advices to riders and grooms. That is what we want to do; to be on the shows with the right products. We don´t want to be bigger than we are now."

"For Equine Industry on the other hand we are working hard to be a trustable partner for the shops. We want to work in the same way as we do in Horse Supplement, to offer high quality and innovative products and to be able to give know-how to the stores. At the moment it is a problem, since many store don´t have the know-how when it comes to horses anymore. They don't need horse-experience to sell cloths."

"In Trust it is not our goal to have the biggest assortment, but we will be a brand with innovational products. The goal is to build it up and make it an established brand."

Do you miss the grooming?

"Both yes and no. I missed it a lot in the beginning, but with this job I am getting as close as you can get to the scene of top jumping. I get to see all my friends, have contact with the horses and still do business. I missed the real stable work in the beginning, but now I am working so much so I don´t have time to miss it."

What is the most innovative product of TRUST and what new products can we look forward to?

"Our most innovative product is the TRUST TETRIS rug. Rugs with TETRIS ® system are easily identified by the filled collar and wither pads. In 2012 we will launch a new stirrup. I can't say much about it yet, but it will for sure be the next coolest thing!"

The Trust brand is seen on several riders, how many do you sponsor?

"Too many!" Teuns says laughing. "We have several riders, as ambassadors of the TRUST-brand, in several focus countries like Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland and Sweden."

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