“From ‘Euro 0’ to Zero Emission, I’ve been through everything. It’s better that I don’t think about how many hours I’ve worked in total in all my years of service, but I could write a book. Wim Hakkesteegt laughs. There has always been a lot of trust and freedom from my managers to develop myself, that’s what I like about our organization.”
When Wim experienced his first day at work on 13 July 1970, he probably never imagined what his career would have in store for him. Now it’s July 13, 2020: the day he reaches the unimaginable number of 50 years of service, all with ‘the same’ employer.
He was 16 years old when he started as an apprentice mechanic at the Twee Provinciën (TP), a bus company in Schoonhoven that would later grow into the Transdev subsidiary, Connexxion we know today through quite a few name changes.
I worked four days a week and went to school one day a week. When I was just 18 and got my bus driving license, I was usually sent out with a bus full of tools and various liquids to get defective buses going again. Later, TP was transferred to Westnederland in Krimpen aan den IJssel where we were regularly deployed as mechanics on scheduled services during rush hour, in between the mechanics work. Between rush hours we continued to repair, then quickly wash the grease off your hands, change clothes and get back on the road.
In addition to his work, Wim attended evening school for many years, from management training to electronics. This training, his feeling for technology and his drive paid off, as he was appointed Foreman Mechanic. « That meant that I wouldn’t drive so much anymore but would be present in the workshop. A few years later I was appointed Workshop Manager, unfortunately as a result of a seriously ill colleague. That was the beginning of 30 years working as a Workshop Manager with a total of 16 different workshops under my care over the years, from many different brands of buses to IVECO trucks, » he proudly says.
« The most special thing of that time is the enormous number of colleagues I have had the opportunity to work with and which I have come across up to 4 times at different times and places in my career ».
I’ve always been asked, and I’ve always been open to challenges. I took lessons from each workplace to the next, I wanted to continuously improve myself and the company. And that’s what I like about our organization, there has always been a lot of trust and freedom from my managers to be able to develop myself. Because of this, I have been involved in many great projects. At the end of the 1980s, for example, we got technically better and better vehicles that needed less maintenance. This created space in the workshops of regional haulers to set up IVECO truck dealerships, for commercial work.
Still, the home front has always been an enormous support, Wim says. He starts smiling and says: « I got married in 1976, we were driven to the town hall by a colleague in a coach. So, it’s been 44 years now. If you take the courtship time into account, it runs almost synchronously with my career! When we were engaged, she started working as an administrative assistant at Westnederland, until our first child was born. Her father also worked there as a bus driver, so the whole family was in transportation. » And despite the long days and changing working hours, he has always been given a lot of freedom. « I think that’s part of our success. It’s been pretty much the same all these years, she knew what time I left in the morning, but rarely what time I got home. »
From Bedrijfswagen Service Westnederland, Wim joined Connexxion Techniek via ZWN Techniek and Techno Service Nederland, where he was appointed Workshop Coordinator for the Southern and Eastern Netherlands in 2016. In 2017, this position was changed back to the current position of Fleet Manager
My main tasks now are the start-up, redistribution and dismantling of various workshops. In 2018, for example, I was closely involved in adapting the workshop and training the mechanics in Heinenoord in connection with the influx of the current hydrogen buses (H2). I also obtained this H2 certificate myself. Wonderful to be able to experience this development of hydrogen in this phase of your career, this certainly has the future! Recently I am busy with the dismantling of the workshop in Apeldoorn because of the concession change at the end of this year and I can proudly say that we have already arranged new accommodation for all staff. We have been able to take their wishes into account, really a burden on my shoulders . *
Formally Wim already retired last March. ” Due to the early retirement age I was just short of a few months to reach the ’50s, but fortunately I may and can go on for a while. I’m still working part-time until the end of this year. That’s a good thing, because I’m far from finished. I still have work to do and I’m still brimming with energy, so that pension is just a matter of time away!”
*At the time of the interview it was not yet known that the tender won by Keolis in the IJssel-Vecht concession was likely to be withdrawn. This will of course have consequences for Wim and the employees in Apeldoorn.