Leo Alsemgeest is the man behind Alweco. After 33 years he transfers the baton to the younger generation. “I am leaving behind a strong team. So I am confident that the future will be good for Alweco. On the other hand, it is also difficult. Alweco is my child. It is a part of myself. I am really going to let that go bit by bit."
“We laughed so much together. It was a wonderful time," says Leo. Nico Niepce and Leo Alsemgeest tell one anecdote after another. How they traveled dozens of times to Canada, but only once took the opportunity to see the famous Niagara Waterfalls. They had fifteen minutes left before they had to travel back to the Netherlands. "Come and let us have a look," they said to each other. But it was so busy, they couldn't park the car there. So it was a quick photo out of the car window as they drove past. And then they had to rush to the airport.
Nico Niepce and Leo Alsemgeest
Or that time in South Africa, when the gentlemen combined business with pleasure and went on safari. “What a feast that was. We just had a festive opening of our branch in South Africa with a farmer's day at a nursery. Customers had come in large numbers and suppliers from the Netherlands turned up to present their products.
"After a week of hard work we were happy that it was Friday night and that we could go back home. But the return trip was cancelled. The eruption of the Icelandic volcano threw a spanner in the works, because the huge ash cloud had already made all air traffic impossible. Yet we had the best weekend then. We all went on a safari which we would never have taken the time for otherwise. And when finally a plane left for Amsterdam, Leo talked the entire team into business class."
What Leo has in mind, is quickly put into practice. Within Alweco, colleagues call that ‘Leo’s way'. There are many examples of this. Just ask Leo why he said goodbye to his boat, his birds or a certain car brand. Leo will be happy to tell you.
On the eve of his well-deserved days off, he thanks his wife for her support: "If my girl asked what time I would be home in the evening, my answer always was, ‘when the front door opens again, I am home’. I owe a lot to her. She is an amazing woman."
There's a management team in place now. Stephan Alsemgeest takes over the daily general tasks from Leo. Nico Niepce is responsible for the sale of export projects within Alweco. Jeroen van Gaalen for the complete sale of all projects in the Netherlands and Belgium. André Vreugdenhil for purchasing and logistics, and Patrick Zwinkels for finance.
Leo is just going to take it a bit easier, moving into a background role. He does so with peace of mind. Leo: "The organization is sturdy as a house. The people are involved and are looking forward to it. The accommodation and machinery are up to date." In their new, 1500 m2 premises, investments have been made in disinfecting all the equipment that is required to install screens.
Alweco's second branch in Maasdijk
At the second location in Maasdijk, investments were made in disinfecting all the equipment. Leo: “Today that is necessary to install screen installations safely and properly." Alweco guarantees its customers they'll get spotlessly clean equipment in their greenhouse. Leo: "That creates trust. It shows: Monsanto, BASF and Enza Zaden have chosen us for their screen installation. We do not break that trust. I always say 'If you say something, you have to do it and otherwise you have to keep your mouth shut.'"
What happened before
Leo founded Alweco in 1987. A few years later Nico Niepce joined the company and then the emphasis shifted strongly to export. A little later his son Stephan joined. The company grew. Branch offices were established all over the world. Leo: "The only thing the boys have to do is make sure that it keeps running like clockwork." Leo concludes: "With guts, happiness, a bit of cheek and doing what you say, we now have wind power 14 propelling us forward. Great, isn’t it?"
Stephan (foreground) and Leo (background), who will certainly still be present in the coming years, but who will step into the background bit by bit.
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