And the last word is for… Hans

Managing director Hans Harting handed over his duties to Freek van Rijn on 1 April 2022. The time had finally come for him to enjoy his postponed retirement. Nevertheless, he took plenty of time to familiarize his successor with the role and to introduce him personally to key accounts. “They can call me for another two months, but then it really is goodbye,” he says with a smile. We give him the last word.

It's fair to say that Hans became one with Van Dijk heating, which started out as a one-man business owned by Piet (“Mr.”) van Dijk. “In those days you really did still say ‘Mr.’” he says, reflecting on his arrival three years later. “When he was 80 and told me I could call him by his first name now, I couldn’t, of course. I was his first employee – initially only in the office, and later also in the field. Liaising with customers and suppliers was what I always liked best.”

Good reputation pays off

Mr. van Dijk made good, robust products and was a man of his word. So Hans soon learned that a good reputation is worth a lot and brings in new, loyal customers without much effort. Business flourished and the team gradually started to expand, as did the product range. “Never with big steps and always in a controlled way, because you always have to be able to keep your promises,” Hans says.

Management buyout

In 2003, Mr. van Dijk decided it was time to sell the business. There were plenty of interested parties, but none met with the old man's approval. “His preference was to hand the company over to a team of employees and asked whether I would think about it,” Hans reflects. “And so it was that Joek, I and two other colleagues took over the company in 2004.”

Eye for the market

The two colleagues left to do other things after a few years, and Hans and Joek remained. “I ran the club for exactly 18 years, and that was a wonderful time”, Hans says. “It wasn't always plain sailing, but the team was close-knit and we always had an eye for what the market really needed in terms of energy and climate technology. And water treatment, because we also added that to our portfolio. That has translated into a financially healthy company with a contemporary range of products and services.”

Greenhouse Technology Group

Hans’s retirement on 1 April went hand-in-hand with a transfer of shares to an investment company heavily involved in horticulture. “Under the banner of Greenhouse Technology Group – and with Joek van der Zeeuw as a minority shareholder – the team is continuing to build on existing and new solutions for high-tech greenhouse horticulture at home and abroad. I am very grateful for that. Soon they won't need me at all. Just a little while longer and then I'll close the door behind me for the last time. It's been great.”

Motorbikes, travelling and birdwatching

Hans is looking forward to the spring when he can get his motorbikes back out of the garage. They are one of his passions. He has a choice of two models: a touring bike for paved roads and an off-roader for less well-defined trails. “Off-road biking is not something you should still want to do at my age, but while I still can, I enjoy the physical challenge,” he explains. “My wife and I will be escaping to the sun in April, and in the meantime there will be plenty of opportunities for birdwatching. That is my latest hobby. Sometimes on my own, and sometimes with a friend who can identify far more than I can. But you learn from that and it's wonderful being in nature. Even if it's in your own back garden.”

Harting saves his last words for all his colleagues and business associates: "I have had the privilege of working in and on this company for 44 years with great pleasure and a broad smile, together with loyal colleagues. I would like to thank everyone, including our customers and suppliers, very much for that. All the best to you!"

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