Family within a family business: Gerrit Jonker and Renske Knigge

Who still works in a family business these days? Well, we do - at Heuver! And we enjoy it too. In fact, there are also many other family relationships in our company. This series highlights these relationships via the personal stories of employees. One of these stories is that of uncle Gerrit Jonker and niece Renske Knigge.

Matrix printers and typewriters

Renske Knigge (44) is administrative assistant at Heuver. Renske started working for Heuver in Den Ham in 1995. Heuver was a wholesaler at the time, and also had 5 Profile branches. Things were completely different back then: “We still worked with matrix printers. You know what I mean: rolls of thin paper with holes down the sides, where each invoice had to be torn off individually. And a duplicate copy, which we kept for our own records. We also had a typewriter for collection reminders. Although we had computers, they were nowhere near as effective as now. If the computer crashed, you sometimes had to repeat a whole day’s work. And during breaks, we made our own coffee. Like the good old days, with coffee filters. Very different from things today.”

A crossing of paths

Gerrit Jonker (57) is Agricultural sales manager at Profile Heuver. Gerrit also spends one day a week at the head office in Hardenberg. But he spends most of his time on the road, when visiting customers and supporting the six employees that work under him. Renske’s mother is Gerrit’s wife’s sister. In 1999, Smid Banden - the company where Gerrit had worked since 1993 - was taken over by Profile Heuver. “Our paths crossed from a work perspective as well as a family perspective!”, says Gerrit with a smile. “Many people at Heuver don’t even know we are related.”

A quick visit

Even though their jobs differ, they do work together now and again, explains Gerrit: “From time to time, I receive questions about administrative issues from employees and customers. That’s when I quickly visit Renske; and we resolve the matter together. In fact, we almost always talk about work and never about family; no more than once during a lunch break.” Renske continues: “That’s also because there’s a certain distance between us. Gerrit has his own family and is also a grandfather. And we don’t see each other very often outside work hours. My eldest son is now the same age as Gerrit’s youngest son. So we are both in different phases of our lives.”

A typical family business

Both Renske and Gerrit regularly experience that Heuver is a true family business. Renske: “In the early years, I also worked on Saturday mornings for a while. That’s when Mans Heuver (the founder of the company) and his wife Jennie would bring tasty snacks with them, like dried sausage. Such things are typical for a family business. As is asking me to fill in now and again, after I had briefly left Heuver on a couple of occasions. But I decided to return to the company again in 2001. I love my job and have some fantastic colleagues; that’s what makes working at Heuver so enjoyable!”

Gerrit has noticed that agricultural customers, who often run family businesses, are particularly keen on doing business with Heuver: “That’s been the case since Mans Heuver was around. Customers regularly ask me how things are going at Heuver, because we place great emphasis on family. It also gives our customers an opportunity to learn from us. In addition, Heuver always shows more understanding towards customers that briefly find themselves in difficult situations. For example, when customers encounter financial issues due to a family problem. We are willing to listen and will always try to find a solution. Bertus and Jan Heuver are also proud of the number of family members that work here. And, of course, we are also very proud.”