A spotlight on the history of Heras: part 7
Heras has a rich history. In a series of articles, we look back at some of the key developments in our history. In part 6, Heras founder Frans Ruigrok handed over the reins to Hugo Groeneveld. Part 7 talks about how Groeneveld continues to innovate as he builds on Ruigrok’s legacy.
In the footsteps of pioneer Frans Ruigrok
According Heras founder Frans Ruigrok, there’s more to life than just work. In 1989, upon turning 60 years, he hands over the reins to Hugo Groeneveld. The new Managing Director joins a growing and thriving company with proud employees. Now it’s Groeneveld’s job to keep Heras feeling alive.
With the current team, Hugo Groeneveld works to safeguard and build on the legacy entrusted to him. He discovers that there are many areas in the Netherlands with a high density of fences. The Dutch typically mark the boundaries of their properties with hedging, walls or fencing. Groeneveld’s motto is ‘the prettiest fence is no fence at all’. But if you’ve got to have one, then it should be as attractive and ‘friendly’ as possible. A good fence should not make property owners feel boxed in. Much time is also invested in developing new colours for fencing.
According to Groeneveld, fencing is important from a social viewpoint. This is what defines the purpose of Heras. A fence has a dual social purpose. It keeps valuables safe and secure, and protects what is vulnerable. Groeneveld saw this logical principle at work in his former life. Working for a dredging company, he saw how Indians sectioned off their land with bamboo sticks. Not just to mark the land boundaries, but also to protect themselves from wild animals. The desire to stake out our own domain is as old as the hills. But, according to Groeneveld, we shouldn’t overdo it and by this he means a fence should never be more heavy-duty than necessary.
Thousands of kilometres of fencing
Heras continues to innovate. ‘In doing so, we tap into our own ingenuity and strengths,’ says Groeneveld. As an example, he mentions ‘marathon fencing’. At a certain point, we were asked for a crowd barrier solution to section off a 42 kilometre-long track. So we came up with the idea of using mobile fences that are used for construction sites as a temporary barrier while work is in progress. This type of fencing is portable and reusable, and can be provided on either a lease or sale basis. While Heras is not the only supplier of fencing, the company does have a leading position in the market. ‘We are strongly committed to defending our position and won’t let the competition beat us,’ Groeneveld says firmly. ‘We work aggressively to protect our market share while putting time and energy in new concepts.’ Who would have thought when Heras started out that 40 years down the road the company would be handling 75 orders a day and 15,000 annually? Or that Heras would be installing thousands of kilometres of fencing each year?
Attention to the environment
With Groeneveld at the helm, increasing attention is paid to the environment. For example, Heras has reverted to double-side copying and using unbleached paper. The company is also in the process of finding a more environmentally-friendly solution for accelerating the drying process of water-based varnish. It is currently investigating the possibility of reusing the heat from the compressor that is located next to the paint shop. Heras employees are also motivated and actively involved in making operations as environmentally friendly as possible. Heras has put up a suggestion box providing employees with the opportunity to air their suggestions and feedback. Ideas are submitted on a daily basis, ranging from collecting paper waste separately to changing the coating system (which turned out to represent savings of NLG 100,000!).