Meet Peter Verhoef, Managing Director of 12hoist4u
Cranesy: Cranes and Life. Tell us about your story.
Peter Verhoef: Early nineties the European head office of the global Mammoet organisation was in need for a sales and marketing manager for their crane rental fleet of well over 100 mobile and crawler cranes in the Benelux.
Although my background was not from cranes, lifting and hoisting, it was expected that I would fit in that specific world. I brought with me a vast experience in sales and marketing and because my career started as officer on Shell tankers I had some background on cranes onboard vessels, wire rope, inspecting and using lifting and hoisting gear as well as wire rope and the splicing of wire rope.
The warning they gave me was simple and clear: “Peter, either you fail within a couple of weeks, or if you manage to survive 6 Months, you will be addicted to the crane industry”.
I was determined to be successful and have to admit: I became addicted to the “world of cranes and hoisting”.
After several years I was promoted to be responsible for sales and marketing for the whole European business of Mammoet. In that position I helped in the founding of a Russian, Spanish and German branch office.
In 2000 I was appointed as Mammoet’s global sales and marketing manager, during which period several huge global “from Factory to Foundation” projects were acquired and the Mammoet Sliding Gantry was introduced to the market.
The MSG (Mammoet Sliding Gantry) was at that time the world’s most innovative, versatile and strongest “hoisting machine” (it was not really a crane). The machine was the first of its kind that worked without steel as counterweight, but used local available material to be placed in empty standard ISO containers to be used as counterweight and was transported as standard ISO containers.
After Mammoet merged with – or in other words, was taken over by – the van Seumeren family I left Mammoet early 2002 and I had a small period in the global airline industry.
My addiction became apparent and soon I was back in the hoisting business: as managing director for Memmens Schiedam. At this time I became familiar with all kinds of hoisting accessories, inspection of hoisting equipment and installation of Overhead Travelling Cranes. As it was decided, to sell the whole Memmens organisation to their directors and I had no interest in buying I left.
I was asked by the second largest crane rental company of Belgium, kranen Michielsens, to set up a Dutch branch office and develop the Dutch market for them.
Starting with only a car to visit customers and an office in my working room at home in 2003 I developed the company until we had over 50 employees and just 25 mobile cranes (biggest was the newest Liebherr LTM 1250-6.1) mid 2007.By the end of 2007 I handed over the management to start my own business.
Setting up a recruiting agency being fully dedicated to each and every job for which lifting and hoisting specific knowledge and skills are required was my goal. In the same time with the ambition to become “partner of choice” in this specific market on global scale.
I needed a distinctive name for my business and thought: “well the people that I’m going to supply are doing their hoisting related work for others” – in other words “want-to-hoist-for-you”!
As that was not creative, I decided to write it as: 12hoist4u. On October 1st in 2008 I started with nothing. On the same day, the global economic crises becam apparent. Looking back: a perfect timing for setting up a company starting from scratch.
Nowadays we have a serious amount of respected customers, have 7 office employees who can work with just over 2.000 candidates for our customers and will reach around € 2 mio turnover in 2014 and just founded 12hoist4u Norge AS.
C.: When you have some important decision to make, you make a decision based on…
P.V: When it is needed to take important decisions, I will always make sure that my decision is based on facts.These facts shall not be just some loose remarks, it shall be facts that can be X- checked.
C.: How self-confidence is important for success?
P.V: I firmly believe it is essential to be confident of yourself. Be sure you know “what it is all about”, be sure you are extremely well informed and make sure you are an expert in what you do.
It will bring you confidence that is respected by others and you will be seen as insider in your market. If you do not have confidence in yourself, how can clients be confident of you? How confident will your own personnel feel themselves? How will the market look at you if you are not confident.
How will you ever kiss a beautiful lady without being confident that she will like your kisses?
C.: Why you started your own business?
P.V: I started my own business basically during my last job working for an employer, it felt as if it was my own company. But, as it was not my own company, I had to work within the strategy of that company. Being aware of market opportunities, but not able to go after them brought me a kind of desire “to do something for myself, not hindered by some else his strategy”. Combined with nearly 20 years in the “lifting and hoisting industry” and the confidence I had in the possibilities in the recruiting market, I decided to set up my own company.
C.: Best “business” lesson you’ve learned along your career?
P.V: Without sales (and marketing) there is no business! Whatever the business you are in, whatever the size of your company, if you are not selling, your business will soon come to an end.
My 19 year old son wants to run his own furniture making business. He is amazing in creating and making the furniture, but realises: he has to sell his ideas first!
Mammoet in the early nineties had a bit of a culture “we are world’s biggest, the customer will ask us any how”. But they were taken over by the van Seumeren family, who were dedicated to become “world’s biggest company” and able to sell that to the market. It took a few years, but they managed!
C.: According your opinion should employer keed a distance or in reverse make friend with his staff?
P.V: Most important is to be “one of the team”. Make sure your team sees and can rely on you as their teamlead! Be a friend whenever possible, but realise that sometimes you need to take some less popular decisions. Show respect and keep distance when it is needed to take decisions and show that you’re not walking away for these decisions.
C.: Your “receipe” for TEAM building?
P.V: Take the time to learn what is keeping your people busy, also during their time off. Have an “open door policy” and make sure they can trust you also with their private problems. There is no need to solve their problems, sometimes they just want to share something with you.
Another aspect is: make fun! Let there be room for humour. Share successes and “our success”.
C.: What things make you happy about your work?
P.V: Customers that trust us and rely on our experience. Customers that realise safety is a culture and not something you can buy or make savings on. Situations in which new clients “think they have a problem that is hard to solve”, and experience our abilities to deliver whatever the competences are, as long as it is related to lifting and hoisting. Helping others with our knowledge and sharing the knowledge.
Tea or Coffee?
Tea for breakfast, coffee during the rest of the day.
I like to read business related magazines, dancing, gardening, walk in the nature, tasting and nosing of Scottish Whisky.
Favorite place in the World?
My favourite place is: in a foreign country in the nature; it is nearly 25 years ago I was in Thailand, but that was really the most beautiful country I’ve ever been.
Favourite food: Italian pasta, rice with sweet and sour souce, but also cooked Dutch potatoes.
Have you ever been in Italy?
I’ve been in Italy several times, mostly on Holidays. At the time the kids still went along with us on holidays. The traditional Dutch family, with a folding tent behind the car. The most beautiful area was Toscane! The area south of Venice is beautiful as well, but I will never forget the amounts of mosquitoes there.
My strength are, my strong believe in what I’m doing; my self confidence; very hard worker and being an example for my team; inside knowledge of the market and dedication to reach my goals.