Behind a strong company are strong teams. This certainly applies to Smulders. One of the teams is the Smulders Projects maintenance team in Hoboken. Under the wings of Maintenance & Facility Manager Tom Frans maintenance technicians ensure that everything keeps running smoothly. From installing industrial electricity to maintaining buildings, machinery and rolling stock at the site.
Like a warm family
There are about 25 maintenance technicians. A friendly club, each individual with their own talents and tasks. They all agree that the spirits are high. For the team, Smulders is like a warm family. The guys believe in what they do and they help each other. The work is varied and they have job security.
“Every day we face new challenges and that’s what keeps it exciting,” says Maintenance Technician Yorn Van Hoyweghen. The others nod in agreement.
The first time on the Titan - the large gantry crane - is for many a special and lasting memory.
Retired or not, that’s the question
I would like to put the two oldest employees in the spotlight”, continues Tom Frans. “After a long career they have become part of the furniture.” And then he talks about André Willaert and François Geerts, the ‘Seniors’ of the maintenance team. They were there when Smulders started producing transition pieces for the first real offshore wind farm worldwide in 2001 in Hoboken. “I’ve been devoted to this place since 1980”, François confides in us. “Back then it was just a shipyard and over the years I’ve worked here for several companies, just like André.” André nods. “We started at this location when we were really young lads and we haven’t left since. In the beginning, Smulders appointed us to get everything ready for operation for a period of six months. We just kept on doing that and it’s a good thing we did too.”
It is clear that both men are still happy doing their jobs. “I’ll be 63 soon”, André continues. “François is 66 years old. We’ve both been retired. But when we visited our colleagues, they asked us back. It’s not easy to find new staff these days. In any case, we are going to continue for as long as we can, but on a part-time basis.”
“Young people should consider coming to work for us”, François and Tom conclude. “The work is very varied, we apply a whole range of old and new techniques. There are of course obligations attached to the job, but we also have a lot of freedom. Life is good here.”