100 years of existence and still going strong!

26 February 2021

We visit Kees Weijtmans, owner of Boomrooierij Weijtmans in Udenhout. The company was founded in 1921 by Kees' grandfather. Kees is the sixth generation associated with trees and forests. Although it only started then on paper, the company was already active in 1779, under the leadership of Jacobus Weijtmans. The company has been through a lot in the past, but never stopped and has always remained faithful to the profession. When you look at the new location, the craftsmanship in the sector breathes. The building is completely energy neutral and fits in with the vision of the future that every company should strive for. We will talk to Kees about his company.

''We distinguish ourselves from our colleague companies because of our way of working. We work according to the Cascade principle. This means that we strive to use the trees we harvest as optimally as possible. We have about 27 different ways in which we do that, namely; construction wood, packaging, paper, OSB and play trees. For example, trunks are used as a natural barrier to protect monumental trees. What is not suitable goes to local biomass plants and the rest goes to composting as a means of soil improvement. 90% of the time we are pruning trees the other 10% we are actively pruning trees, that is mainly in the breeding season. This is one of the busiest times of the year. For this work we have built machines ourselves so that we can perform the safety and expertise that our customers can expect from us. In addition to the unique telescopic cranes that we have designed ourselves, we also have five Doosan excavators that we use a lot at work."

Not just local
Many companies work within a radius of 30 kilometers from home, but that does not apply to Boomrooierij Weijtmans . They can be found all over the country. Because they have a lot of expertise in their field. From Brussels to Bremen you can find Boomrooierij Weijtmans. Due to the close cooperation with training institutes, staff also come from all over the country to work there. Kees would like to reduce the flexible layer a bit and hire more permanent staff. ''I would like to work more in fixed couples so that the boys know each other even better and they are optimally attuned to each other. This way we can guarantee safety even more and we can train every colleague ourselves. My absolute dream is to have my own business school so that we can bring theory and practice even closer together and we have perfectly trained people from an early age for our sector specifically, says Kees.

100 years of existence
This year Boomrooierij Weijtmans celebrates its 100th anniversary. Unfortunately, this cannot be celebrated with a big party that Kees would have loved to do. "Unfortunately, because of Corona, that stops." Nevertheless, Kees does not sit still and has come up with other alternatives. Including a trees Netherlands student challenge. ''We challenged a number of students to look at how we can plant more forests in the Netherlands. Roads or houses are no longer allowed to be built in the Netherlands because too much nitrogen is released as a result. For every piece of road that we want to build, a piece of nature has to come back. As an example, there are now more and more farmers who have no succession, so there is land that could be used for another purpose. There is money and a need from the government to reduce nitrogen, but we don't have a ministry that brings it together and makes the decision. So we challenged students from various HBO and WO studies to make a start on the goal of 100,000 hectares to be added in the Netherlands. We have put together a jury that will assess the plans. The plans will be presented in June and we can see how we will actually work this out in practice.

The participating teams are:
• Breda University for applied science - Breda; the climates, Dream Green, Lignum Viventum, Green Team
• Van Hall larenstein- Velp - The Tree Musketeers, BNBoys
• Has Hogeschool - s'-Hertogenbosch: hastikke Mooi Bos

We are also working on a trees for trees project for private individuals. When we and individuals remove a tree, they get one back from us. In this way we can continue to preserve the trees in the region. Hopefully at the end of the year we can still throw a party to celebrate our 100th anniversary with our own people, that would be very nice. It is quite a milestone that I would like to reflect on.”

''It is true that accidents happen in this work, but safety is our number one priority! It is super important to strive for even safer working every day. We are the largest company in our country in our sector, so we are always looked at extra. That is why we must set the right example and do everything we can to work optimally safely. Our aim is therefore to grow old together in good health.”

Children's shoes
“How we got to Doosan is a funny story. We used to have Cesar machines. At a certain point, these were no longer for sale, so we wanted to convert them ourselves. Cesar offered to convert a Doosan into a Cesar. But then I went to ask for prices myself at a Doosan dealer in the area, in this case Staad. They were still based in Lieshout, so that was quite some time ago. In the end we also bought our first Doosan there from Pieter Staadegaard and we did not leave there because of the good service that Staad provides. Pieter even came to bring the filters himself at the weekend if necessary.”

''For me, a representative is only there to collect the signature when buying a new machine. I buy a machine on the service I get from my dealer, in this case Staad. The guys from the service are always ready for us whether it's Saturday or in the evening. Tim and Marnick often visit us and I am very satisfied with that. Last Saturday Marnick was still here, a young boy but a real hard worker. We are now in the breeding season so are very busy. The excavators are at work all week during the week, so maintenance can only be done during the weekend. Then I think it's great that this is not a problem."

''It is a difficult subject, the specifications from the government. You have to be the cheapest and the most durable, but that will be very difficult. Sometimes you miss out on cutlery because you are not the cheapest and the cutlery is not made sustainably. Or it is said that the plan is being implemented sustainably, but there is no control over the work. Who then checks that what has been agreed is being done? I think there is still a lot to be done by the municipalities and governments. As a company, we do think sustainability is important and we are fully committed to it. In addition, we have now set up a middle management so that everything no longer falls on me and my wife Sandra. In this way we want our company to be able to look forward to the second 100 years in a sustainable way.

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