The driving force behind 75 years of Hendor

Hendor is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. For Marja Kaethoven and her brother Hessel Bohncke, this milestone feels extra special. They are the third generation to run the family business for 25 years now, the last 10 of which with commercial director Paul van Ham. Full of pride, they look back on the heritage which they hope to pass on to the next generation as well. 

"The company is really part of our life and our family," Marja says. "Our family life used to revolve largely around Hendor because our father had taken it over from grandfather. I've been coming here for as long as I can remember. I can still picture the old building with the two pointed roofs."

The beginning of Hendor 

Hendor was founded in 1948 by brothers Henk and Dorus Bohncke. Henk had eleven children, four of his sons worked in the company. Oldest son Henk junior took over the business in 1973 along with son-in-law Ton. The other sons had no further ambitions within the company and eventually went their separate ways. Shortly after the takeover, Ton died, leaving Henk junior at the helm alone.  

It was a tough time for Henk junior to make Hendor successful on his own. Both product development and sales were his responsibility, while he actually wanted to focus purely on the technical side. In the 1980s, the turnaround came with new designs of pumps and filters. Marja: "Before, the old pumps still had perspex housings and filter chambers." Hessel: "Hendor switched to PP and started injection molding in-house. New submersible pumps, filter pumps and magnetic pumps were developed, and then some great collaborations were done with CDR in Italy, among others." Meanwhile, Henk junior hired sales director Rinie Voets in 1984. Together they traveled all over Europe by car to visit customers and agents. "That's when business took off."

The third generation steps into the family business 

At the same time, just before Rinie started, the next generation joined Hendor. Marja started in administration. "When I was still in school, I did a lot of vacation work here. From cleaning to making filter plates or standing at the lathes. I did all kinds of things. When I finished school at 19, my father asked if I wanted to work here. I was up for that." 

"My elementary school was next to the Hendor headquarter premises so I always parked my bike here," Hessel says. "After school and during vacations you could regularly find me here in the building. Once I finished high school, I went to DAF business school and worked there for three years. Then I started working here at Hendor, because I knew I wanted to work here eventually. I started downstairs operating the machining centers and then advanced to production manager." 

On December 30, 1997, Marja and Hessel took over Hendor from their father. Henk junior asked his children if they would take over the business from him so that he could retire at the age of 62. At least with the day-to-day management, because he still wanted to come by for a few days to do what he loved: injection molding. Marja: "It was always in the back of my mind that I wanted to take over the business. But never on my own, because I simply don't have the technical knowledge." For Hessel idem: "I am more a man of practice. I rather occupy myself with developing pumps and filters than with administration." 

Professionalism, automation and extra attention to personnel

In the 25 years that followed, Hendor continued to grow into what it is today: serving customers from 53 countries with innovative, chemical-resistant pumps and filters. That's nearly double the sales area since Hessel and Marja took charge. According to both, they have continued to build on professionalization, automation and personnel management. Marja: "At that time, the change came that personnel had to be cherished more. Fair remuneration linked to performance is what we were consciously working on." This is also why the average working life at Hendor is almost 18 years! The headquarters was expanded considerably in 2002 with large warehouse and office space. Even so, there were some down times when staff had to be parted with. Still, the power of cooperation and tight vision on healthy finances, which Marja and Hessel inherited in their upbringing, overcame that. 

Sales manager Rinie bids farewell in 2012 and makes way for commercial director and co-owner Paul van Ham. Paul: "I previously worked at Hendor in the sales department and then went elsewhere in the industry. The bond with Hessel and Marja has always remained. In 2012 they approached me for a lunch appointment. They had the idea of asking me back, not only to lead the commercial devision within Hendor but also as co-owner, and wanted to see if it clicked. I have always considered Hendor a great company with great products and great people. I did think that the focus could be shifted from the products to the customers and the market. In the past ten years we have succeeded in doing that. We have entered new markets, such as scrubbers and powder coating pretreatment, and developed new products. I think it's amazing that I get to be part of a business that gets to pass on to the next generation." 

Ready for the fourth generation

Now that Hendor has reached the milestone of 75 years, Marja, Hessel and Paul look at the family business with great pride. "The years have really flown by for me," says Marja. "Hendor is just my life, it really feels like a part of me." Hessel adds, "For me, the work is also my passion. I still enjoy standing here every day." Paul: "For me, Hendor means going to work with a big smile every day and returning home with a big smile again." 

The vision for the future is clear: hand over a healthy company to the fourth generation. Hessel: "The ambitions and capacities are there, so I hope to also be able to witness the 100th anniversary." For this next generation Marja, Hessel and Paul have a clear advice: stay financially independent and always try to get the best out of your staff. They are essential to the success of Hendor.  

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