He was eighteen years old when he joined Senft Zonwering. That was forty years ago yesterday. Such long employment contracts with one employer are rare these days. Reason for Senft not to block the sun for once, but to put Jan Spies full in that sun.
Nicky Senft, daughter of owner Jan, wraps some presents. A bread bin can be recognized. With a photo of Spies, Nicky says. There are also two framed certificates on the table. One from Senft itself and one from the trade association, where the anniversary was also noticed.
Jan Spies (58) was born in Groningen. But his parents soon moved away. First to Rotterdam and then to settle in Haarlem, where he grew up. “My first job was at the sugar factory in Halfweg, where I worked for three months. I could stay, but then I had to move to Groningen. I didn't want that.” He read in an advertisement that Senft was looking for an employee, applied, got the job and has remained loyal to the oldest sun protection company in the Netherlands ever since.
The family business on Nassaulaan in Haarlem was started in 1878. “I took over the business in 1979,” says Jan Senft. A lot changed in that time. “Certainly in recent years, technology has of course progressed by leaps and bounds. Everything is electric now.”
He does have some keywords for the man he has employed the longest: “Just, dutiful, always on time and with a heart for the cause.” He also always handled all retraining positively and without problems. “Customers sometimes ask specifically for Jan,” says Senft.
But a nice anecdote does not come to mind. “…Yes, we have had to work from a cherry picker…”
Spies himself must also conclude after a moment of reflection: “Of course I have experienced nice things, but an anecdote does not come to mind so quickly now.” Senft thought for a while and came up with: “We did go to workplaces with boats. And we work throughout the Netherlands, we have even done odd jobs abroad. But further…”
There are people who spend their whole lives looking for everything only to find it too late, or even never. There are people who always want an apple from the highest branch because they think it tastes better. Jan Spies is different. Forty years ago he started at Senft and also forty years ago he met his current wife. He remained faithful to both. “We have been married for 35 years now.” That marriage produced four children and several grandchildren.
What does Jan do after work? “Then we have dinner and then we watch some television.” Hobbies? “I always went with the kids to football, for example. My sons played football at VVC, in Nieuw Vennep, where I now live. I was also a linesman and coach at that association.” He also sometimes 'goes with the boys when they go fishing'.
Spies does not want to quit his job yet. “People sometimes ask me: how do you keep that up? As long as the same work. But I like the job and have never felt the need to do anything else. I'm really enjoying myself here and I'm still fit. I don't have to go to the gym for that either, because this work is a bit like going to the gym. Those awnings are just very heavy these days.”
A festive room has been set up in another room of the store. There is cake and there are many things with the numbers forty on it, such as balloons. Spies' family is there. Children, who of course all have sun blinds, are also at home. Wife Gonnie: “Jan is handy. And he puts his heart and soul into his work. He has only been ill once in all those years. And once he broke his hand, at work.” Son Jeffrey: “Dad is always busy with his work.” Daughter Virginia: “My father is always there for everyone. You only have to call and he is already on his way.” At that moment, Jan Spies is cutting cake for the guests at his anniversary party. And a little later he walks around with the pieces he has cut and asks everyone present: “You want a piece of cake?”