But before we say goodbye to Gerard, let’s take a moment and reflect on his career, reminisce about those early SGL days, and look forward to what the future holds.
As one of the day ones, Gerard witnessed SGL still in its early days, pioneering with just a small group of people, steering the course of the company. An exciting time, a period Gerard remembers vividly.
“It was May 2nd 2008. After Nico (founder Nico van Vuuren), Frank (Sales Director Frank van Beusekom), and Eveline (Office Manager Eveline de Heij), I was the fourth employee,” Gerard recalls. “I remember Nico picking me up from the train station and we jumped straight into a brainstorm session. Where do want to go with SGL? And how do we get there? Were some of the topics we discussed. I might still have an image of the flip over containing all the ideas we came up with during that session. It was a nice way to start my career at SGL, it was a very open discussion and I loved it. Later that week we had a meeting about UV-C technology, which I had also gained experience with at Barenbrug, my former employer. It was an exciting time. I had an advising role at SGL and joined the sales manager during customer visits, observing the grass, writing reports, thinking of ways to optimise our products and services to help our customers. That open, dynamic, and customer-driven work environment with new challenges every day was – and still is – typical for SGL. It’s one of the reasons why working at SGL has been so exciting for the last 15 years.”
Over the years, Gerard’s knowledge has not only left a mark on the development and course of SGL as a company, but his passion for the craft and his drive to make the lives of grounds managers a little easier every day made him a well-regarded guest at clubs from all over the world.
“That personal touch has always been very important to me. It’s so much easier to make a connection with people face-to-face, rather than via email or over the phone. As a result, I have met so many interesting people who I still talk to up to this day. It’s so nice to see all those people again during the Masterclass and catch up. Visiting customers and being physically present on-site also helped me to experience the local conditions first-hand and get a better understanding of the challenges the grounds manager faces. And in addition, we’ve encountered the weirdest situations during our visits to customers.”
“Well, I specifically remember when Nico and I visited the United States for one of the first times. We travelled all the way to Denver, Colorado. When we finally got there, the person we were meeting asked us to wait because he needed to get a haircut first, ha-ha. We ended up waiting for an hour, but hey, at least he was honest about it. Living abroad during my time at Barenbrug, the travelling with both Barenbrug and SGL; it has been very valuable, but it could not have happened without the support of my family.”
Overall, I love helping people and sharing my knowledge and way of working. Dare to share. That’s how you evolve as a team.
Although Gerard’s employment at SGL is coming to an end, completely letting go of the industry he loves so much is hard, and probably not going to happen anytime soon.
“I’m always happy to answer questions, or brainstorm. I’ve always enjoyed working with my colleagues, especially the agronomy team. That’s something I’ll have to miss. Although I think we’ll stay in touch anyway. If someone calls to discuss something, that’s fine with me. Looking back on my career, it has been a beautiful ride, an experience they can never take away from me. There’s a new generation ready, it’s up to you now! And well, there are more people with knowledge, you know. It’s not just that ‘crazy’ van ‘t Klooster who knows a lot.”
Asked which type of grass he identifies with the most Gerard responds with instant knowledge, as expected from an experienced (crazy) agronomist.
“Koeleria macrantha!” A firm, resilient grass type. It’s a grass type that survives with little care. You can’t use it in a stadium, but its firm character suits me. It’s also a quite expensive grass type…
One thing is certain, we’ll sure miss that crazy van ‘t Klooster!
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