We are interviewing Jos Kromwijk, but in fact his son Wesley should have sat across the table as well. But Wesley, the son, prefers to be busy with projects rather than giving interviews. Wesley stands out by his natural talent when it comes to technology and entrepreneurship. When he was seventeen (!) he started his own business, which his father joined a few years later, and now Kromwijk Techniek is a renowned name when it comes to new construction, overhaul and maintenance work on hydraulic installations and components in the international hoisting and offshore industry.
"Wesley has always been involved in engineering, ever since he was a child," says Jos. "He was seven years old, got a pedal go-kart and after three rides he said 'there has to be an engine on it'. And that's what he arranged." Jos laughs, shrugs his shoulders and declares "he got a little chromosome from his father". Not just a chromosome, we think, but pure indoctrination. But in a good way. Always taking your child with you on projects has to have an effect, of course. "Yes, you would think so", Jos puts that effect into perspective, "but a colleague of mine has three sons and none of them are interested. During our interview Wesley is working in Korea to connect to a project HCU hoses. A busy boss.
More than a natural talent
Well, that aptitude seems clear. And how it manifests itself in practice will also become clear very soon. So when he was seventeen he started his business, when he was eighteen he obtained his driving licence and took on a big job on an oil rig off the coast of Zeeland. And not much later a project for a machine that picks up the poles for a wind farm. No small projects for someone who has just started out. But you don't get that feeling for a moment. Rather the feeling that the veins of both gentlemen, father and son, are filled with hydraulic oil. Because hydraulics is their core business. "We don't think in terms of problems but in terms of solutions," Jos tries to explain.
Wesley starting his own business was bound to happen, form early on. At his school, he and a fellow pupil took up the challenge. Always looking at a project with a down-to-earth view. "In the meantime he has built up a nice reputation. On the construction site, for example, he was involved in a multi-million-dollar project in which engineers had spent months preparing for a modification. And Wesley - sometimes they call him the boy with the blue helmet - quickly realised how things could be done smarter and better. He left everyone astonished. With incidents like that, your name is soon established.”
Together in the company
Jos himself worked for a family business for many years until it was taken over. "The feeling changed and I felt less and less at home there. At the same time, Wesley was getting busier and busier and it was actually quite natural for me to work for him. We both have the same attitude, no-nonsense, a deal is a deal. We work a lot with freelancers, so we have many different disciplines at our disposal. You can pick people that have the same attitude as you do. And this is how at a certain point we came into contact with VSE. We had already seen the name pass by on a project at Woltman and at some other locations. So when we finally had a real introduction to a project in which a Siemens control was applied, we already knew a little bit about an what they were in for and it actually felt good right away."
On the table are a few framed pictures of a nice project, a cable carousel. "We have already made several of these, with a capacity of 1,000 to 4,000 tonnes, and hydraulically driven. We built this specific one together with the customer. They build the construction and the machine themselves, we make sure that everything moves. This is where the cables for wind turbines are wound. Electrical cables with a length of about 35 kilometres". But there are many other projects that make the blood pump a bit faster: "At a shipyard in Malaysia, ship sections of two thousand tonnes had to be driven out. The section is first lifted with a jacking system and then driven out onto a tub. And in the case of wind turbine poles, Wesley's ideas are constantly being asked for. A remote controlled spreader, for example, with which wind turbine poles are loaded into a ship - the leg standing upright - and unloaded again at sea. This spreader must have a capacity of no less than sixteen hundred tonnes. Well yeah, these are special projects. And our solutions are always practical, that is paramount."
"The first project we did with VSE was to fit the control of a gooseneck into a small cabinet. This gooseneck serves the carousel just mentioned, which winds the cable. A small box and an awful lot had to be fitted in it - in a very short time as well. We would never have managed that by ourselves! A real hat off, a big compliment, that they managed it. The gooseneck was located in Germany and I had explained the situation beforehand to the customer. When we finally put the box in, it was just a matter of plugging it in and everything worked. Wonderful! With this you really make a huge statement, with relationships you can build on."
Of course now we are curious why Jos is so enthusiastic. What was in that box? "In the basics, it's just a control and it started out with only a start and stop function. But every time something was added, the speed of the conveyor belt had to be controlled, the steering of the left and right swing, an emergency stop. And the speed also had to be controlled very sensitively. After all, the gooseneck is used to fill the cable carousel. On the inside of the carousel the winding goes slowly and the further the cable goes to the outside, the faster it goes. Moreover, the cable is enormously heavy, weighing between one hundred twenty and one hundred forty kilos per linear metre. The cable is first raised and then guided into the carousel from above. The end customer is enormously satisfied with the operation of the steering.”
Father and son complement each other very well and - that has to be the case - can work very well together. "We respect each other. That is important. And that is also what we look for in cooperation. It's good to see that the people at VSE are just as practical as we are. And also adhere to our motto: a man a man, a word a word. That works great together."
And don't tell him, but we have found a picture witg Wesley (right) in it.... Shh..