Monique: ‘After more than 40 years, your job might seem a piece of cake – but the world of transport is constantly changing. There’s never a dull moment!’
If there’s anybody who knows all the ins and outs of Meeus, it’s Monique van Laarhoven. She was only 15 when she took her first steps into the world of transport. Not knowing then that now, over 40 years later, the ‘blue village’ would have a special place in her heart: ‘I wouldn’t swap at any price!’
From telephonist to admin clerk, planner and invoicing clerk: Monique knows Meeus inside and out. She has made her contribution in all sorts of functions, and likes nothing better than passing her knowledge on to her colleagues. Monique: ‘What I like best is to be involved in everything. That’s just my nature. And if people also take me seriously…that’s a bonus!’, she laughs.
But seriously: it’s her knowledge and experience that have brought her to where she is today. ‘If you have worked in transport your whole life, you don’t want to do anything else. Every shipment is a new challenge, figuring out the most efficient way to get the load from A to B. Of course, there are always obstacles on the way, but we always make sure we find the most suitable solution. That’s the exciting part of the job!’
But let’s go back in time, to when the 15-year-old Monique started work at Meeus: ‘I wanted to stay on at school, but in those days, there was no question of that. You just had to get a job! My father noticed an advert in the newspaper, I had an interview on the Monday and a week later I was sitting behind my new desk. As a telephonist. Meeus started out as a family company. Back then, everything was smaller, family-sized. In fact, back then Meeus was more like a large family than a business. Working together, we could achieve such a lot. I had the opportunity to move easily from one job to another. That was the kind of freedom we had back then…!’
Monique grew up in the business – literally. ‘I was only 15 and not very disciplined’ she laughs. ‘Back then you had to type up letters in French on a typewriter and have them signed by the boss. If Do Meeus looked at one of the letters and spotted a mistake, he would say, ‘I’m not saying it just to annoy you, but you really have to do this one over again’. I would be so mad! But in retrospect, those are the things you learn from most’.
At one point, Monique made a move to a Meeus sister company in Rotterdam. “I was keen to do it: learn new things, get to know a whole new situation’. But what started out well changed when Monique ended up spending long days away from home. ‘I lost control of things. I was working really long days and had less connection with the children. I just wanted to come back home’. By ‘home’, she means the big, blue Meeus village in Bergen op Zoom. When she phoned Toon Meeus, she was welcomed back with open arms and offered a new position.
Over the years, Monique has built up a great body of experience. These days, she has a function that suits her well: invoicing. Her observant nature is put to good use there. ‘You get to know everything about the company. I know what a pallet looks like, how a trailer is loaded, and how long it takes to drive to the destination. In invoicing, you can use all that knowledge. You are more alert! After more than 40 years, your job might seem a piece of cake, but the world of transport is constantly changing. There’s never a dull moment!’ But the transport world isn’t the only reason Monique enjoys her job. ‘All of our people are really involved. We really belong together! If somebody is ill at home, they can expect a phone call from a colleague. We care about each other. People are genuinely interested in each other, and that connection increases our enjoyment in working for Meeus’.