For the 10th edition of LEVEN Magazine, Jim Senft was interviewed for the Vak. Your profession largely shapes you into who you are.
The seasons are extra important to me. The influence of the sun on the seasons is the basis of what we do. In the summer we focus on outdoor awning and protection. In winter, demand is more focused on window decoration and embellishment. Actually I will advise everyone to turn it around. The delivery times can be quite long, everything is custom made. So if you want to have something ready in the summer, it's best to order in the winter. I like the summer myself, although the ski holiday is the most beautiful holiday of the year for me. I prefer the sun, but sell shade.
Communication is already important, but it will only become more important. Everything is going faster and faster and with mail, mobile phone and WhatsApp it seems as if you are never 'off'. Customers expect that too. So you really have to make sure that you are always completely up to date. As a broker, we must always communicate in two directions, both towards the customer and towards our suppliers† If you react quickly, you create more transparency and service. If something takes a little longer, even if we can't do anything about it, we have built up a little more credit. So responding quickly pays off.
I grew up in the workshop, but what I do is really not imposed or forced. I just have work that suits me and that I love. I still enjoy working every day and meeting the customers. Every day is different, come in everywhere and do not spend days in the office behind the screen. We have been supplying to some customers for years and then you see a home becoming more and more beautiful. That really gives a kick.
Because Senft has been around for so long and is the first company in the Netherlands in sun protection, we have witnessed the entire development. From the very first screens then to complete garden covers now. Including electrical control, solar, wind and rain sensors and in all shapes and sizes. While operation outside has been standard for quite some time, we are now seeing an enormous shift of this convenience inside among young people. As a result, houses are increasingly becoming palaces, equipped with all comforts. That development will continue, even if you think we've seen it all.
We have the majority of our customers in Zuid-Kennemerland, Haarlemmermeer and Amsterdam. I know the whole area like the back of my hand and I continue to like it. We deliver in a very wide region, so we come across all kinds of things. Because the houses, but also the target groups and therefore the budgets are so different, we really need to know what can be done where and for how much. I find that diversity fascinating. I now live in Amsterdam myself, but I can say with certainty that I am leaving for Haarlem again. Ever.
Well, as a family business, I have to talk about the family. I am the fifth generation senft who works in the business. The company was founded by my grandfather's grandfather in 1878 and we have been in Haarlem since 1902. However, it was not self-evident that I would also start working in the company. I work with my father, mother and sister. It feels very good, familiar, but we also keep it business-like. Every year we also go on holiday together, so if it didn't feel right it would never happen. In addition, we have a nice army of mechanics walking around. They feel a bit like family, some have been working there for 35 years.
I am on the road a lot and that gives me a lot of freedom. Organize your own time, control the steering and go where I want. I like to travel far and wide. New Zealand and Australia, Nicaragua, delicious. The intention was that I would go to Georgia this year with my year club. Now that you can't do that, you really notice what freedom means. If you have it you don't notice it, if you don't have it you don't know how important it is. So we have to guard our freedom, it is more important than we sometimes think. Nothing is obvious.