Afbeelding: Willen_Thijs_2835

From father to son: changing of the guard


The unique story of Willem and Thijs Rouwhorst proves that Metaflex is a great place to work. Willem, now 66, began working at Metaflex in February of 1979. His length of employment will fall just short of forty years when he retires at the end of December. But he will be closing the door behind him with confidence, as his son Thijs, 31, will be taking over his tasks.

Willem began at Metaflex in the assembly department and was later appointed project manager and work planner. He has worked in the logistics division for the past few years. Willem explains, "I’m responsible for transport purchasing and coordination. It’s a dynamic and varied position, with no two days the same. Following a reorganisation four years ago, I was given the opportunity to retire. But I wasn’t ready. That says something about how much I enjoy my work.”

Special experience
But the time has now come to call it a day. The fact that his son, Thijs, will be taking over his duties makes it a particularly special experience. Thijs explains, “A few years ago, I was working at Roemaat Transport, one of the transport companies that Metaflex works with often. When registering transports, I sometimes had to deal with my father and his manager Michel. It was Michel who came up with the idea to ask me to take over my father's job when he retires. My father agreed to this, but said that he did not want to get involved in the hiring process."

A great place to work
Willem continues, “No, I did not feel that I should be part of that decision. And I told Thijs that it was totally up to him and he should not take the job just because I was retiring. We did, of course, talk a bit about what the job entails." Thijs adds, “I already knew that Metaflex is a great place to work. After all, I saw how much my father enjoyed going to work all these years.”

No quarrels
Thijs was given the opportunity to interview and was hired.  His father trained him during the last three months. Willem comments, “I told Thijs ‘Just start working and I’ll see how you do’. After all, he would be on his own soon enough. Things actually went well from the very start.” Thijs adds, “We haven’t had any quarrels or differences of opinion. But we have jokingly agreed not to celebrate Christmas together this year, since we’ve spend a whole lot of time together lately!”

A commute by bike
Will it be clear to everyone that Thijs is Willem's son or are they very different? Willem says, “In terms of character, we’re quite alike, which is why I think Thijs will fit in just fine. But I’m a little more active and, for example, always bike to work. I haven’t seen Thijs do that yet.” Thijs responds, “And I don’t plan to do so, maybe only during the Christmas or holiday get-together! It’s true that my father commutes by bike in all kinds of weather – from Zieuwent via Vragender to Aalten and back again (almost 40 kilometre per day). Of course, I have different strengths. Unlike my father, for instance, I can type with ten fingers…”

Letting go
Willem will soon be closing the door behind him with confidence. “Thijs has everything under control. You have to be a bit tough for this job. When a transport company comes up with an excuse as to why a delivery is not on time, you need to realise this and call them on it. I don’t see this being a problem for Thijs. Of course, he can always call me if he needs help, but I plan to keep my distance otherwise. Privately, we almost never talk about our work, so I don’t think I’ll have a problem letting go after retirement.”

A bit of getting used to
Willem is not sure yet how he will spend all his free time. “Lots of cycling and lots of going on holiday, enjoying life. Not that I haven’t always derived satisfaction from my work. But it will take a bit of getting used to. What I’ll miss most is my colleagues,” he concludes. After all these years, his colleagues at Metaflex will miss him too. But they have complete faith in Thijs and hope he will be just as successful and enjoy his job just as much as his father. 

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