Heras has a rich history. In a series of articles, we look back at some of the key developments in our history. In part 5, we talked about the company’s relocation to Oirschot and how Frans Ruigrok succeeded in attracting skilled workers. In part 6, founder Frans Ruigrok retires and a new era begins.
Heras founder hands over the reigns
In 1966, Heras relocates to Oirschot, a strategic location with optimal accessibility by road and water. The company is thriving but finding the right people continues to be a challenge. After a successful collaboration with subcontractors the always inventive founder of Heras, Frans Ruigrok, comes up with the idea to make his assembly teams self-sufficient and available on request. They work at their own expense, but under the Heras flag.
Pioneers like Frans Ruigrok have certain defining characteristics in common. They are courageous, daring, strong willed, and above all, they put their own stamp on the companies they run. This usually makes it difficult to follow in their footsteps. Contrary to many other entrepreneurs, Ruigrok believes there’s more to life than just work. So although his retirement is still far away, he decides to step down when he turns 60. But there’s another reason. Ruigrok notices that most senior workers react anxiously to the company’s employment conditions policy. Whereas he believes that times change and so must we. So is it really possible to move with the times when you fall into the senior category? In 1975, at his request, the condition that managing directors must step down on reaching the age of 55 is laid down in the company’s articles of association.
Proud of the company
Hugo Groeneveld succeeds Ruigrok in 1989. Groeneveld takes over a thriving as well as an interesting business. He realises that the company is Ruigrok’s brainchild, so naturally he would like to see how it grows up. Although Ruigrok is still very involved with the company, Groeneveld doesn’t feel like he’s constantly looking over his shoulder. What is also typical of pioneers is that they pass on their enthusiasm and commitment to the business and its products to their employees and a feeling that embodies a brand or company. In this case, that special ‘Heras feeling’. Men who have worked for Heras from the very start know this feeling better than anyone else. They are proud of what they’ve created, and are filled with a sense of pride when they see a project that they worked on so many years ago. Field worker Marinus van de Boogaard articulates it as such: ‘I truly, truly hate advertising. But I’ve never resented wearing my Heras overall. We make a decent and reliable product and our appearance should reflect that. As far as I’m concerned, the logo on my back couldn’t be big enough.’
Out in the field
Anyone involved in the production process of Heras must also have an idea of what the field work entails. New employees are taken for a tour of the office and various departments. They also accompany an assembly team to see how the fences are installed at the client’s site. Employees who are used to manual labour can usually handle the physical demands of this job. Most new employees, however, come back exhausted and with blistered hands, including the ladies.