Gerard, the fourth generation of the family business

Currently, the fifth generation is at the helm at Spaas and they still work there every day with heart and soul. But... What is the secret of a successful family business? We have already asked Gerard Spaas. You can read all about it here. 

As a young boy, I walked around the factory a lot. I knew from a young age that my ambition wasn’t to end up at Spaas, but I was very proud of it. My parents never steered me in a certain direction and they always left me free to do what I wanted. I graduated as a civil engineer, something I enjoyed doing and wanted to continue doing. 
In September 1970, I was able to work at KS as an underground engineer. While I was busy with my career, André Rijcken came to lead Spaas Kaarsen. One day, André asked me if I was interested in coming to lead the production. And when family calls, I’m always ready to help! We moved to the industrial estate in the early 1980s, but this soon took a different turn. Spaas was hit by a fierce fire in 1981. Giving up isn’t in my vocabulary! We came back stronger than ever and I became CEO of Spaas. 


Ben and Sarah rolled into all this much the same way I did. At one point, we were looking for a product manager and I immediately thought, ‘My kids can do that too!’ Since we only needed one person, I let my kids choose amongst themselves who would like to start. Ben started with us first, in Sales, and has now progressed to CEO. Sarah then joined in 2014. We were looking for someone to strengthen the Spaas brand and Ben thought Sarah was the right person for the job. 

The secret to success? In my opinion, it’s making good arrangements. There are always difficulties, but in a family business, it’s important that each generation does its homework when it comes to agreements. This way, you make it less complicated for the successors to take over and everything can run smoothly and pleasantly. I am currently still on the Board of Directors. I’m more of a sounding board for Ben and Sarah. I will never look over their shoulders because I trust them completely, but I will always be there when they need advice. They still see me almost every day at the company, not just to see what’s going on, but also because I genuinely enjoy being there.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot by trial and error. To really write a success story, you must first truly believe in your product. If you don’t, you’re lost. We live in an age when time never stands still. Everything is changing so fast. It’s important to adapt to the changing environment in this case. For example, we at Spaas are now working hard to adapt and go green. If you position yourself as a family business, it really should be like that. For me, a family business is a business where everyone counts and where people love to come and work every day towards growth. In case you didn’t know, the classic table candle has remained my favourite candle over the years! It is simple, beautiful, and fits everywhere in the house!

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