Sven and Matthijs Van Duuren: ‘You have to do it yourself’
To call them ‘the successors’ already is a little over the top, but it is clear that cousins Sven and Matthijs van Duuren are ambitious. Sven (27) as the son of Jasper van Duuren and Matthijs (24) as the son of Jeroen van Duuren grew up in an entrepreneurial family.
“We simply didn’t know any better,” Matthijs says. “Sometimes I did notice that fathers of friends who did not come from an entrepreneurial family were already home by the end of the day,” Sven says. “Our fathers were never home before seven or seven-thirty at night,” Matthijs adds.
Matthijs studied business administration and currently works as an account manager for the Swedish firm Instabox, a specialist in fossil-free parcel delivery. Not as an entrepreneur but ‘just’ in paid employment.
Sometimes he has to restrain himself. “I see solutions I would like to implement but then do not have the authority to do so or I feel a bit inhibited towards my colleagues. I was taught by my father that ‘you have to do it yourself’ because someone else won’t do it for you’. There is some truth to that.
The fact that people don’t take initiative because it’s not ‘their job’ sometimes suprises me a bit.” According to cousin Sven, taking initiative and daring to take risks is precisely what entrepreneurship is all about. “I recently heard a story about entrepreneur A who couldn’t move forward because he ran out of storage space. Entrepreneur B came to know about this and built such a space for him within a week. That’s just switching and proceeding, doing it right away.”
Sven as the eldest of the two cousins looks a bit more thoughtful than everybody’s friend Matthijs. Sven is clearly a son of his father (Jasper) who is also a bit more introverted and analytical compared to his brother Jeroen.
The apple never falls far from the tree at Van Duuren. Sven already works in the family business. Operations manager domestic distribution Benelux crossdock, is what his business card says. Quite a mouthful but he is perfectly capable of explaining what his job implies. An explanation follows that the reporter does not fully understand, but it comes down to Sven being responsible for planning and distribution in the Benelux. He manages a team of 45 people and, despite his young age, appears to have no trouble doing so. “Always stay calm whatever happens” he learned from father Jasper.
He studied at the IBA (International Business Administration) and took a master’s degree in supply chain. Sven and Matthijs, they are part of Generation Next.
How did their fellow students think about the concept of family business, anyway?
Sven: “Everyone wanted to either get going as a start-up or get as high as possible at a corporate. Family businesses were considered boring and dull. In that respect, family businesses still have a world to win.
“Matthijs adds: “You notice that Van Duuren’s European partnerships are also family businesses and therefor fit in very well. There’s more drive and sense of responsibility there than in a listed company. Everyone there does his own thing, his own little task, but is almost afraid of final responsibility. As long as the Excel sheets are filled in properly, everything is okay. They don’t care about the rest.”
Talking about a sense of responsibility, Matthijs: ” Of course there have also been more difficult times at Van Duuren, just like in any company. Then I do feel what it means when so many salaries depend on it. Sven: “In that respect, I have to say that my father managed to combine work and private life well at home. Whatever happened, he always managed not to take that to the kitchen table at home. I do admire that.
He has always kept us away from the malaise as a child.” Matthijs: “Whereas my father did like to share about the successes. Whenever another great customer was brought in, he didn’t hide it. That enthusiasm did inspire me.”
Sven: What I like about your father is that he always remains intensely motivated. Once a customer leaves, he doesn’t fall into resentment or anger, but immediately has ideas to get that customer back.
‘A lost customer is an opportunity,’ he would say. I like that.” Do they see differences in entrepreneurship between their generation and that of their fathers?
Sven: “Yes, I think that as an employer we value more, let’s say, being a social employer. More freedom for your people. I have a colleague from the planning department who is working from the Canary Islands. Online, everything is possible with us. I don’t think my father would have liked that. For me, it doesn’t matter. As long as someone performs well. If I can keep someone that way I won’t hesitate.” Matthijs: “I think that is still a thing of our generation. Everything has to be fun and flexible but tedious work also has to be done.”
Family Business in Pictures has devoted an entire magazine to Van Duuren. This article is one of the published items. Every week we will post an item from the magazine.
Source: Familiebedrijf in Beeld