Two and a half years ago, Cas van der Lee’s internship at Vetipak got off to a disastrous start when the coronavirus outbreak forced him to do most of it from home. Despite this, the former Technical Business Administration student remembers the period fondly. In fact, the 24-year-old from Vinkel now works with us as a management trainee, and has since become something of an ERP expert.
“Move to Veghel was the right choice”
The year is 2007. Vetipak is growing rapidly by seizing opportunities in the market and earning the loyalty of a variety of new clients. The company also has plans for a new location in Veghel, to better serve major client Mars. And that means: all hands-on deck at the production lines.
‘Would you like to come to Veghel? And what about you? And you?’ Team leader Brigitte Schellekens is making the rounds along the Vetipak production lines at the Landweerstraat in Oss, when she stops at Desiree van Daalen and takes out her notebook. This time, she doesn’t repeat the question. ‘You’re definitely coming with us to Veghel’, she says, and continues on her rounds.
A few months later, the plant at the Doornhoek industrial park officially opens. Builders are still putting the finishing touches on the building as the first team starts working in Veghel. The heater hasn’t even been switched on yet, so the Vetipak staff keep their jackets on as they package the first mini-mixes for the chocolate conglomerate Mars.
Things start to move quickly after that. Double-decker buses full of able hands line up in front of the plant to supply Mars’ constant demand for packaging. With Desiree now serving as a team leader, Vetipak welcomes one new chocolate product after another. It is soon clear that the move to Veghel was the right choice.
“I’d been working at Vetipak for a few years by then”, Desiree recalls, having signed her first contract in 2004. “My little sister Priscilla introduced me to the company. I still remember my first day: I was a production assistant and had to lift trays of iced coffee for packaging. It was hard work, but I didn’t let it show. The next day, the morning shift team leader took me aside and said: ‘The new girl knows how to work. We can definitely use someone like her.’"
‘The new girl knows how to work.
We can use someone like her’
Fascinated by technology
Desiree is a perfect example of what you can achieve when you really want something. She soon mastered the operation of various machines, and always looked over the shoulders of the technicians whenever she got a chance. “I was always interested in technology”, she says. “And you can learn a lot just by paying attention. I never had a problem with being assigned somewhere else, because I was always able to learn on the job.”
Home away from home
After working as a line foreman, Desiree was eventually promoted to the position of team leader. It sounds like a typical success story, but Desiree’s tale also has some darker moments. “In the beginning, I was in a complicated relationship in my private life that drained a lot of my energy. Luckily, I had people I could talk to at work. Vetipak even helped me solve my financial problems, which is something that I still really appreciate. So I gave everything I had in return. Since then, Vetipak feels like a home away from home.”
Slap on the wrist
There was also an incident on the shop floor where Desiree was called into the office, but even that was smoothed out in the end. “It was about the capacity of one of the machines”, she laughs. “One of the co-workers thought it was running at 100%, but I knew for certain that it could run a bit faster. That difference of opinion escalated, and even led to an official warning. But that’s just how I am: if I do something, I give 100%. We eventually talked it out and got on with our work.”
‘Sometimes you’d come across a co-worker
wrapped in plastic around one of the columns in the hall!’
Always a laugh
Desiree mainly has fun memories of that time, and she tells anecdote after anecdote about her experiences. Like the infamous Christmas party in 2004, that got so far out of hand that the entire cafeteria had to be repainted. Or the pranks Desiree and her colleagues played on the technicians: “We did the craziest stuff. Fastened toolboxes to the table, taped candy all over the inside of their overalls, replaced shoelaces with candy laces... And sometimes you’d come across a co-worker wrapped in plastic around one of the columns in the hall! I’ll never forget those memories for as long as I live. It’s always a laugh here with the colleagues!”
Plenty of challenges
Someone approaching their 20th anniversary at the company is definitely not a job-hopper. Desiree nods in agreement. “I definitely like to stay in one place. I’m in a great place here, so why would I look for something else? Plus, I’m a team player; the people I work with are important to me. The group has gotten smaller over the years, but it’s still a great group of people. And I still have plenty of ambitions, like starting something new, helping to set up a new production location, learning more about automated processes with robots... so there are still plenty of goals to achieve!”
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