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.
“We are all Vetipak”
It’s mid-2008. Mark van der Burgt tells Arno van de Ven that he will leave the company a month later, as agreed. As it happens, Mark is in the process of three successful job applications and his temporary consulting position at Vetipak is almost over. However, things turn out a little differently. Mark sees Arno frown: “Just a minute! What do you mean, leave? Surely you’re staying with us!"
This is not according to the original agreement. After all, Mark's neighbor Cees van de Ven, head of the Hardware Engineering Department at Vetipak, had been quite clear: “Would you mind joining us for a little while? We’re experiencing some commercial challenges.” However, a little while soon turned into six months, during which time Mark quickly landed the company’s first international customer: Britain’s Cadbury. And now all of a sudden, he’s at a crossroads: Vetipak or not?
“I would like to stay”, says Mark, and he sees Arno's frown vanish. “But I do aspire to a management position, so that I can help think about the company’s general direction, in addition to the commercial side. And I want to help Vetipak grow internationally.” Arno considers this proposal briefly, but quickly seals the deal with Mark: He will remain a member of the Vetipak family.
“That was my best business decision ever”, says Mark now, in 2023. “Although we did rather have to get used to each other. For example, I'm sure Arno thought I was a strange guy, with my suit, tie and then Randstad accent. It was also quite a major step for him to hand over the commercial tasks. His customers had always been his babies, and all of a sudden, someone else was taking over the contact with them. I remember that for the first few months, I had to work in his office – my desk across from his – so he could hear and see how I worked.”
Mark did what he had set out to do: he went abroad to find customers that Vetipak could serve. And with considerable success: Cadbury was soon followed by Storck, Nestlé International Travel Retail, Ritter Sport and several other major foreign players. “My experience at corporate companies like ISS, KLM and Intel came in handy,” Mark says. “I’m a connector by nature. And I am patient and calm enough to deal with the procedures, processes and systems that often come with large companies."
Vetipak sells itself
Mark's approach was to generate the trust and interest that would attract customers to Oss. “We’ve never been about the PowerPoint presentations – we’re more practical by nature. Within our manufacturing environment, our business pretty much sells itself. When they come to Oss, customers really get to fully experience who we are and what we do. We all play our own individual role in this. Because when it comes down to it, we are all Vetipak.”
“When they come to Oss, customers really
get to fully experience who we are and what we do”
But what made Mark so sure that Vetipak could shake things up internationally? There is a dose of gut feeling involved in the answer to that question. “Vetipak was a diamond in the rough”, he says. “The company was a regional player with a lot of potential, particularly due to our technical solutions and great dedication, which ensures we really have something to offer our clients. Not in terms of the P for price, but the V for value.”
Mark more or less personifies Vetipak's international character. He still enjoys every business trip. “Traveling is fantastic. Even in the cab ride from the airport to the customers or the hotel, you’re already absorbing the culture. Of course, doing business in another country can sometimes be difficult. For example, people in China behave very differently to those in England, and you need a whole other set of persuasion techniques to win over an American company. But that’s exactly what makes my job so interesting. As complex as it can be, you always learn from international and cross-cultural business.”
“As complex as it can be, you always learn from
international and cross-cultural business.”
Love of dynamism
Nowadays, Mark is as intertwined with Vetipak as it is with him. However, he is certainly not resting on his laurels. “We love dynamism. If things go quiet for a moment, then it’s clearly high time to think up something new. We have a fantastic track record across a broad, deep network of customers and market segments. But in a way, we're still that diamond in the rough. As a production and supply chain partner, we can do much more for our customers, for example by taking over parts of the production chain.”
Recently Vetipak started in the Life Science & Health sector as a manufacturing partner for medical devices. “This will enable us to support customers even further by taking over specific parts or processes from their production chain”, says Mark. “And our approach is not profit-driven, but fueled by fun instead. After all, we only do what we really enjoy and what suits us. And to be personally part of such a fascinating growth strategy – that never gets boring.”
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