Since starting work at Van Beek over thirty years ago, Jeroen van Wijk (58) has witnessed the company develop from a traditional company into an innovative world-class player. Why has he remained loyal to the screw conveyor specialist since March 1991? It’s because of the solidarity he feels for a company which, to him, is more like a family, together with a passion for his profession – a passion that’s shared by his colleagues. “Van Beek has developed strongly in recent years, and the fact that I have contributed to this growth gives me a sense of pride!” says the celebrant.
From the first day that Van Wijk set foot on the bustling factory shop floor as a technically trained construction fitter, in Sprang-Capelle, he was hooked. Carrying-out such creative, meaningful and precise work alongside like-minded people every day, made the former driving instructor realize how much he had missed his first real love: craftsmanship. “To me, a screw conveyor is a very interesting object, I find the thinking behind it fascinating. It’s amazing that a person was able to conceive of such an extraordinary example of technology.”
Five years ago, his passion for Van Beek’s showpiece was so great that he even had an image of a screw conveyor tattooed on his right forearm. Some people say he’s crazy, while others understand the man who has often memorialized some of life’s more meaningful events in ink. “I owe a lot to Van Beek, and to screw conveyors. I can still stare in awe at a screw conveyor,” says Van Wijk.
The veteran remembers his first project at Van Beek as if it were yesterday. It would not surprise him if those screw conveyors of yesteryear are still operational today: “It was an order for four steel screw conveyors, at a time when we were taking three days to build just one screw conveyor. Nowadays, a screw conveyor is delivered as a kit, and it’s our job to weld everything together precisely and professionally.” Van Wijk understands that innovation was necessary, but says he misses the traditional, artisanal side of the profession. A drawback which, he says, is compensated for by field service operations: “When you’re out there servicing, you’re able to be much more creative and independent than on the production floor. You learn a lot by talking to customers, and there are so many things you can organise yourself. It’s an area in which I really feel at home.”
Van Wijk, born in Helvoirt and raised in Oisterwijk, describes himself as an honest, cheerful, positive and emotional person, who knows how to spend his leisure time creatively. He enjoys working in his shed, which has a workbench, a cutting machine and welding equipment. He also plays the bass drum in a cheerful brass band and is a big fan of Quest, a popular Dutch science magazine. “Quest is a relaxed and highly informative read but I would also feel comfortable browsing through an encyclopaedia for hours,” the inquisitively minded Van Wijk explains. He loves travelling through Australia, a country he has so far visited twice, and, if corona permits, he will visit for a third time soon: “The country is so scenic, so open, so free. You can drive around for hours without meeting anyone. Australians are very friendly and the weather is great. I could easily settle there.” If it were not for the fact that he would miss his children and grandchildren, Van Wijk would have emigrated to Australia long ago.
The veteran looks back on 30 years at Van Beek with feelings of fondness and gratitude. What words of wisdom would he impart to the younger Jeroen van Wijk of 30 years ago? “Life runs its course. You can’t control everything. Stay positive and enjoy life!”