What do you see when you look in the mirror?
,, I see a happy and happy person. In terms of appearance I see some wrinkles appear, but that belongs to my age. And thanks to a detox cure, I lost a few pounds, so I’m in my own skin. But I also see a person driven. I want to do everything I do. I got that from home. ”
Your parents were driven, hard-working entrepreneurs.
,,That’s right yes. My parents had a well-running perfume shop under the name Fedropa in Rotterdam-Blijdorp. In the holidays and when we left school, my two sisters, a two-year-old sister and a twin sister, and I helped in the store with, for example, orders and wrapping presents. My parents worked hard, six days a week. Nevertheless, we all had a nice childhood. In the weekend, Saturday afternoon after closing time, we often stayed with the whole family in our holiday home in Haamstede. We went swimming or sailing with the boat. I have nice memories of that time. And through working in the store I learned the sales profession, commercial thinking and literally ‘doing everything for the customer’. ”
But you did not want to take over the store later?
,, No, neither my two sisters. My parents sold the store later. Personally I am too impatient to sell a lipstick or mascara for example. But what did I want to be? I did not know. I wanted something with ‘doing business’. My twin sister went to Paris as an au pair and after the VWO, I went looking for a temporary job in a so-called ‘intermediate year’. I came to Lommerrijk via the employment agency, they were looking for a ‘centipede’. I was 21 years old then. I started as a reception employee and never left. Now I am a director. ”
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You could never have thought that at the time?
,, Absolutely not (laughs). Career planning does not appear in my dictionary. All functions and tasks within this organization came my way, from reception work, cleaning, operation and administration, to personnel affairs, sales and (general) general affairs. In practice, I learned a lot. ”
You got chances?
,,Indeed. My then director, John Laan, gave me every opportunity. But you have to seize that yourself. I have done that. I took initiatives, drew work to me, was enthusiastic, loyal and responsible. However, because I did not have any further education, I felt insecure for a long time. But I could mask that nicely. And if I did not understand something I asked for an explanation in jip-and-janneketaal. Stupid questions do not exist, you know. ”
In April you were proclaimed Rotterdam Businesswoman of the Year!
“Yes, unbelievable. I was very pleasantly surprised, because I never went out to win such a prestigious trophy. I just do my work, without a catering background, but I am enthusiastic and I have a clear vision. I believe in internal branding: what you promise to the guest must be realized through your organization. That’s what it’s about. That is what the nine-member expert jury thought. I do that, together with my team of fifty employees. The trophy is therefore a reward for our work, and of course it gives a boost to our beautiful, contemporary event location on the Bergse Achterplas. It is going well with the catering industry in Rotterdam anyway. The city is buzzing! And Lommerrijk is indeed a concept, it has been around for almost 140 years. Whose grandmother and grandfather did not come? Many people still know where to find us. ”
What is the key to success?
,, I keep investing in the company, while preserving the rich history. Lommerrijk is a wonderful meeting place for meetings, conferences, company parties, outings, weddings and parties, from 15 to 350 people. Over the years, all the halls have been completely rebuilt and every five years we restyle certain rooms. Now take the grill-eatery bowling Dok 99 completely renovated in 2017. The bowling is completely hip again. For example, we organize ‘high heels’ (high heels) bowling once or twice a year. And we have all kinds of (company) outings, such as expedition Robinson or the sloop treasure hunt with iPad on the lake. We are running well. On an annual basis that means an average of 1300 parties, from small to large. ”
Is it always so easy for you?
,,Certainly not. In the crisis years since 2008, we also had a loss of revenue and we had to tap into new products and target groups. And private? Unfortunately, I was divorced six years ago. Working hard was a good distraction for me. Meanwhile, together with my two sons, Max of 20 and Bas of 16 years, I have found my turn again. And the boys are doing very well, I am very happy about that. They both follow a training at the hotel school. Do they follow in my footsteps? We shall see, if only they become happy. ”
Is it difficult to combine motherhood with a difficult job like this?
,,No actually not. My director never looked at fixed hours, if the work was done well. I can also mail at home on the couch. I now work on average 40 to 50 hours a week, even on weekends. Despite my busy job, I was always there for the children. And at school when needed, for example dressed as the Easter bunny (laughs) or as a lice mother. When the boys were small we did have a babysitter for two days a week. But life is, of course, more than work. A person must also relax. ”
How do you relax?
,, I go to fitness once a week. And I try to play golf with friends every week. I do not think about anything except the ball. I also like to go away for a weekend or to eat out. This summer I am going to make a nice trip through Thailand with my two sons. I’m really looking forward to that. ”
Are you satisfied with your reflection?
“Yes, I am a satisfied person. The won trophy is the famous icing on the cake. I have been brought up soberly, like ‘just do it and do not imagine anything’. But when I look in the mirror now, I think: yes, I could be a bit proud. ”