Steve Jordan talks to Wouter Hijzen from De Haan in the Netherlands, about how the business is still expanding after over 240 years.
It’s become the norm now. An interview that would normally have given me the opportunity for a little international excursion, now performed online courtesy of Zoom. I spoke to Wouter Hijzen, Managing Director of De Haan in The Netherlands, in what he calls his Zoom room with the camera strategically positioned to show behind him images of the eight generations of the family who have provided moving services since 1777 with the Emperor Napoleon granting the company its first license.
De Haan has around 100 staff, including its own packing teams, and a large vehicle fleet. In that sense it bucks the trend somewhat in being asset heavy, a business choice often preferred by family-owned companies who are in it for the long haul.
Wouter has been with the company for three years. Recently, he has expanded on that principle by investing heavily in new vehicles, internationally experienced drivers and export packers to help the company provide additional services to the trade for moving and support throughout Europe. De Haan is in something of a unique position as it is a primary contractor to NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation). “The NATO bases are everywhere in Europe,” said Wouter, “so we have to be everywhere too.”
That gives the company the opportunity to offer a truly Europe-wide service to its trade partners. “We are particularly looking to help with the high-end of the market,” he explained. “We do all the moves ourselves on our own vehicles with our own staff. We have always been big in France and Spain but we also have a lot of traffic to the UK. I don’t like coming back empty so we can always help by offering back-load services to clients that appreciate a high-quality service.”
De Haan is one of Europe’s best-known moving dynasties and is a member of OMNI (Overseas Moving Network International), FIDI and IAM (International Association of Movers) with all the relevant quality standards demanded by those organisations. To find out more, watch the video:
Photos (top to bottom):
Wouter Hijzen with staff member Patrick Brand
Photography: Angeline Swinkels