Having started by working on the shop floor, and later moving on to the office: this unconventional approach has given Johan van Drongelen (52) a wealth of experience in both work environments. Now a mechanical engineer, he began his career at Van Beek in June 1991 as a construction fitter and welder, and switched to the drawing department after nearly ten years. “This has enabled me to acquire more varied insights than most mechanical engineers who have not experienced life on the shop floor”, according to Van Drongelen, who is currently celebrating his anniversary.
Our mechanical engineer once built screw conveyors himself, is experienced in different welding techniques, and knows exactly what is feasible to weld. And yet, Van Drongelen has never regretted swapping his welding torch for a – digital – pencil. He started his work at Van Beek the day after his exams, where he had previously learned the tricks of the trade as a trainee vocational Mechanical Engineer. “When I left school, I wanted to work in the drawing department, but there were no jobs available. I had been working in production for almost ten years when a position finally became available. The managing director at the time gave me the opportunity to realise my dream.”
First drawing project
Even after 20 years, it’s quite clear from the energy and satisfaction that the work still brings him every day, that boredom has not set in. Whether it’s because of the perpetual learning process, the technology that never stands still or his work as a project supervisor. “Everything we manufacture is customer-specific, every machine we deliver is scrupulously thought-out. It’s always great to see a custom-made machine leave our factory,” says Van Drongelen with a smile. Because he is so passionate, our mechanical engineer can still remember his first drawing project as though it were yesterday: a combined screw heat exchanger and traditional screw conveyor for e-cooling granulates. “I will always find this combination extraordinary. It goes far beyond engineering,” says Van Drongelen, who keeps his inquisitive mind up to date by attending courses, webinars and by visiting trade fairs. He still prefers to spend his leisure time with his wife and two children. “My family is very important to me; after all, for them I do it all. We enjoy cycling, taking the dog for a walk, and I also enjoy going out for a drink with friends.
He smiles when thinking of how thing used to be. To the time when digitisation of the production environment was still in its infancy and a colleague on the factory shop floor brought a sketch to life, out of sheer necessity. “A field staff member had drawn the products he needed on a notepad, but the sketch was very unclear. This particular colleague took a crayon, drew his life-size sketch on the shop floor and enhanced it with a few sheets from the stock rack,” says Van Drongelen, grateful that Van Beek has kept up with the times and that work planners now use a tablet for drawing.
The fact that this veteran feels completely at home at Van Beek is beyond doubt. The feeling of knowing each other through and through, the friendly bond between colleagues and being able to work for a company with a solid foundation, all contributes to Van Drongelen having no desire to look elsewhere. On the contrary, his work is far from over: “Van Beek will always continue to develop, keep abreast of new technologies and continue to be a strong presence in the market.”