Career of Gerard Dijkers 45 years at ELCEE
Career of Gerard Dijkers 45 years at ELCEE: Always being honest
Today, 2 October 2023, Gerard Dijkers has been with ELCEE for exactly 45 years. In 1978, Gerard started as a sales representative in the inside sales department, soon becoming a sales representative to end his career as sales director. He is still working at ELCEE today. In this blog post, he talks about his passion for lifting technology and his memories of Christmas parties at the Rhine Hotel.
Without a probationary period
Almost 23 years old, Gerard started his working journey at ELCEE on 1 October 1978. Coldly completing his education and already married (Back then, you didn’t have to be employed if you were married 😉 ). Although ELCEE feels like his first job, Gerard and his wife moved to Utrecht to work after their marriage. After a year, the couple still hadn’t found their niche in the region and decided to move back to Dordrecht. ELCEE had also just moved to Dordrecht, on Kamerling Onnesweg, and was looking for reinforcements. Gerard called and was allowed to come for an interview with Joop Plas. It clicked immediately and Gerard impressed with his technical knowledge. After a week, he was invited for a second interview and was offered a contract, without a probationary period. “How much probationary period did we agree on?” asked Joop. “Nothing, do nothing,” Gerard said, laughing.
Point of contact for technical questions
At ELCEE, Gerard started out as an inside salesman, where he was responsible for assembly machines, screw machines and plain bearings, he was also the point of contact for technical questions. With three other colleagues in the department, including Peter Dalm. At the time, Gerard was taking an evening course at the HTS, four evenings a week.
After a few years, Gerard was asked if he wanted to become a technical representative. In that role, he visited customers and advised them on ELCEE’s products. He did this so well that, at the age of 35, he was appointed sales manager of several departments: bearings, lifting technology and assembly machines.
I am here for you
Becoming sales manager brought new challenges for Gerard. He now became the supervisor of his former colleagues and had to prove that he could add value. In the beginning, his colleagues tried him a bit, but Gerard didn’t let them fool him. He took the lead and showed his leadership skills.
“I always said: you have to use me. I am here for you guys. I want to help you get better and sell more. That has worked out quite well I must say. We have built a close-knit team that works well together and achieved results.” Gerard said.
“I have fond memories of the atmosphere among colleagues,” says Gerard. “For instance, in the early years we had an annual Christmas party at the Rijnhotel in Rotterdam, with a drunken pianist and games such as shuffleboard and dancing. The first time I was at that party, I immediately had first prize in the shuffleboard competition and won a shuffleboard. I gave this shuffleboard away to my daughter for my bonus grandchildren only a few months ago.
A funny anecdote
“ELCEE used to sell cranes on ships back then and also did the off-take for shipping inspection. We didn’t have a technical department back then, so we did that ourselves.” Gerard was asked by Gebr. Broere of Dordrecht to briefly test a crane they had fitted with new hydraulic valves. “First asked if all connections were checked of course and this was confirmed by Broere’s mechanics, then opened the hydraulic valve. They had forgotten to tighten everything anyway and I found myself under a shower of hydraulic oil. Then spent 2 hours in a bath to rinse the oil out of my hair (which I still had, after all).”
Being ultimately responsible for sales was something Gerard enjoyed, but he has always had a passion for lifting technology. Set up a dealer network in the Netherlands, sat in Gunnebo’s product development group in Sweden, everything to make it as easy and safe as possible for the end user. He is proud of the good relationship with dealers and suppliers.
Always being honest
“The biggest lesson I have learnt in my career is to always be honest. Honesty lasts the longest. I have always remained myself, I don’t play a role. If I’m with clients and my wife is sitting next to me, she shouldn’t think: that’s another Gerard Dijkers.”
What do we conclude with? “What I value most in my work is the relationships I have built with my customers, suppliers and colleagues. I have never felt the need to leave this company. Working with fine colleagues and beautiful products has contributed to this. The picture just fits. And still I don’t want to stop here, I feel at home here.”
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