As a small boy, the Waalhaven port was already familiar terrain for him. Literally just a few meters from where he played as a child, he now stands at the helm of an international family business. ‘This isn’t going to be one of those narcissistic magazines now, is it? That’s really not my thing.’ This describes Rotterdammer Kees Wagenaar to a tee; allergic to fuss and drama. It’s all about TOS and his colleagues. Not about him. He prefers to talk about today rather than the past: ‘I’m always focused on the future and innovation.’
FREEDOM IS MY BIG DRIVER
I’ve always been independent. First, working on compass adjustments and as a sea trial captain after my education at the Maritime Academy. Later on I founded TOS, together with my partner at the time, Joop Keesmaat. We didn’t have a clear vision or business plan when we started.
Running a business requires courage and creativity, but also intuition and luck – especially in the pioneering phase. Since we were one of the first companies in the sector to deliver crew, we discovered that the job market was rapidly becoming flexible. We began looking immediately for niche markets and
settled on marine construction, dredging and inland shipping. Today, our markets include wind energy, personnel for harbour and terminal tugs and ship delivery services. This diversification is our strength. We support companies that are recruiting in their growth phase as well as with outsourcing of personnel in a receding or volatile market.
We made sure that we quickly spread to different geographic regions. With a presence in the Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine, Brazil, Indonesia and Cyprus, we can offer clients from around the world the quality they expect and rely on. And, most importantly, we gave our people the attention that they deserved. This philosophy stems from the humanistic tradition in which I was raised. Human values are an important part of our company culture: to be treated well, paid well and insured well. Furthermore, our office personnel are a reflection of the Rotterdam community. I am so pleased to see things going so well in the city where my grandfather worked in the port as a dockhand. TOS is a family business, with a very loyal staff. I am very grateful to the people that have helped me on this journey. Marleen Stuurman, my colleague since the early beginnings of TOS, is like family to me. And, by now, my son has also joined the board. As an economist, he has another way of looking at the company. The company processes and IT infrastructure have become more streamlined and efficiently organised. TOS is a wonderful and healthy organisation of which we can all be proud. I never imagined TOS to grow to be the company it is today