Meet The Insiders: Leen, Workshop staff

From spending nights in the Botswana jungle to working at The Inside’s workshop: Leen has been a part of The Inside team for over 24 years and isn’t planning on leaving anytime soon, despite being of pensionable age. Read more about Leen, his work, and why he loves this job.

Can you tell us a bit more about your position?

‘Sure. As a workshop staff member, I mostly work on manufacturing the wooden elements of the stands, working from construction drawings and a materials list. Different drawings are distributed to the team members at the start of a new project. Everyone gets to work on a particular part of the stand. If a given part of the stand is large or heavy, we have several people on the job. It’s time-sensitive work. You work with hard deadlines that cannot be postponed. So, if a stand isn’t on schedule, you may have to work overtime. But that’s part of the job.’

From crocodile hunter in Botswana to workshop staff member at the Inside

When we ask Leen what he did before joining The Inside, a huge smile appears. ‘I was a crocodile hunter in Botswana.’ He enthusiastically recalls his years in the African jungle. ‘In the 1950s and 1960s, many crocodiles were killed for their leather, for instance. Conservation organisations wanted to boost the declining crocodile populations, and I wanted to be a part of that. We would step into a tiny boat in the middle of the night to catch (live) crocodiles. The crocodiles were then transferred to a large pond where we hoped they would start breeding. They were then returned to various nature reserves to increase the crocodile population in these areas. Yep, that was quite an experience. Every night, we would look at each other and say: “We got really lucky again”.’

After having lived in Botswana for several years, Leen felt it was time to return to the Netherlands. He continues: ‘My first job back in the Netherlands was at a company that manufactured stands. But I didn’t feel at home there. Then I saw a tiny advert in the newspaper from another stand manufacturing business called The Inside. They were looking for a stand builder. So, I responded to the advert. I met a young, enthusiastic couple with big plans, and I got a big kick out of that. Before I knew it, I had switched jobs. That was 24 years ago. I haven’t regretted a single moment.’

What makes working at the Inside so great?

‘The challenges. Every day, we’re given incredible projects that can sometimes be quite challenging. But that’s what I love. If someone says it can’t be done, I want to prove otherwise.’ He laughs and continues: ‘We were once given a project that had been rejected by other stand builders because they thought it couldn’t be made. But Michael said: “Leave it to Leen; he’ll get the job done!” We dubbed the stand ‘chicken legs’. It was a one-of-a-kind stand where everything was topsy-turvy. But Michael was right because I did manage to build that stand! It’s always great to work on such large and exciting projects. And, when you see pictures of the final product, it always gives you that sense of fulfilment. The fact that I haven’t retired yet speaks for itself!’

An Insider, heart and soul

Leen says: ‘I truly am proud to be a part of The Inside team. Over the past 24 years, I’ve had the privilege of seeing this company grow from a small business to what it has become today. The company has moved three times since, and we’ve recently opened a new office. When I think back to those days when we were a small team of six and where we are today, it makes me proud. I have worked here for 24 years, and I’m definitely planning to make it 25. After that, who knows what I’ll do? Even then, I’m not sure I want to stop working for The Inside.’

Are you interested in working at The Inside? Have a look at our job vacancies and send in your application.