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Hans has been thinking about solutions at Fabory for 46 years

"Making processes easier for the customer."

After starting in 1976 in the sales department at Fabory, 64-year-old Hans van de Sande is still improving processes for customers in 2022. "I don't know the word no. There is always a possibility".

Photo: Hans plans to complete the 50 years at Fabory.

A job advertisement in the Nieuwsblad van het Zuiden made Hans decide to apply for a job at Fabory (then called Borstlap). In those days, applying was easy: a name, an address, and a completed education were all Fabory asked for at that time. Hans cut out the advertisement and posted the completed form. Two days later, the phone rang in the living room of the Van de Sande family: Hans, as an 18-year-old, was allowed to start immediately. That week, he sat down at a desk in the internal sales department as an administrative assistant. It was the beginning of a career that would take Hans to several company departments.

He liked the work, and Hans became a team leader in the Sales department. The eighties and the employees in his department were responsible for entering orders, keeping track of master data and typing letters to customers. Part numbers of fasteners Hans still knows by heart. "Orders we processed with punch cards and handwritten lists. You can't imagine that now."

Calling with the telephone directory in hand

It never got boring because Hans held a new position every 3 to 4 years during his career. The moments when Fabory had a different owner provided an extra dimension. "Whether you are dealing with a Dutch, English or an American owner affects your work. For example, at one point, we had to check every shipping address and see if it existed and could not be connected to terrorism." The role of team leader fit Hans like a glove. He still had some space in his schedule and jumped into the gap of product specialist technical bullets. He made cold acquisitions with the Telephone Directory in one hand and a phone in the other. "We were turning over 400,000 guilders in turnover when I started, and after a year, it was a million."

Hans grew into accounts receivable manager for more and more Fabory branches. He and colleagues built a CRM system for the Credit Management department in the Netherlands and Belgium. "At a glance, we now had customer risks mapped out." Hans received praise from the organisation and beyond: together with colleagues, he received the SAP Quality Award. The system caught on in the organisation and rolled out in Europe. Today, all credit managers still use it. After the roll-out of the CRM system, Hans became responsible for 34 employees in the Credit Management Department. "The system gave everyone so much more insight into what they were doing. We stopped sending letters and created risk categories for 250,000 customers in our system." It paid off: customers paid within three days on average in the Netherlands, and they also paid faster in other countries."

“Orders we processed with punch cards and handwritten lists. You can't imagine that now." 

Photo: Group photo at Borstlap's new office, the late 1970s. Hans is at the back, to the right of the pillar. 

Studying, working and sleeping

They were great years for Hans at Fabory, during which he travelled through Europe and implemented the CRM credit management system for the entire organisation. "Every week, we looked at what could be improved. Every country has its laws and regulations. So we created a uniform credit management policy that adapted to those specific rules." Study, work and sleep became Hans' new motto. After he hit forty, he started taking several courses in credit management. "That was also encouraged by Fabory."

Today, Hans strengthens the e-commerce team, where he further guides the digitisation process around order processing. Hans wants to make processes better and more straightforward. A fundamental problem solver, he calls himself. For example, creating orders faster, with the correct data in the system and anticipating changes in delivery times. "That way, the customer gets what he needs faster." Laughing, he says, "You don't immediately look for my work and my enthusiasm for changing processes in someone who is 64 years old. I don't know the word no. If something cannot be done exactly as you want it, then it can always be done partially."

Focus on fasteners

Fabory is currently working hard to regain the title of Masters in Fasteners. According to Hans, that goes beyond providing good service. "You become the best with the right package. The package of D E F sizes we used to have lying around, nobody else had that." Hans is also clear about the company's focus: "It's good that we are focusing on fasteners again."

Anyone who has worked for the same employer for 46 years can hardly help but build a bond with colleagues. This is just as true for Hans. He even shared a passion for running with several colleagues for years: they ran half marathons together. He did this with colleagues in Prague, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome and Berlin. Also, in Tilburg, Hans and his colleagues took part in a running event, the Tilburg Ten Miles. On that day, they even hired café De Drie Gezusters (The Three Sisters) on Tilburg's most famous square, where they toasted their sporting achievement together.

Completing fifty years

After working at Fabory for almost half a century, Hans feels it is logical to complete the fifty years. "I am going to miss having a fixed activity every day. I can't sit still. Who knows, maybe I'll start working on projects a few days a week, like for the self-service system MyFabory."

"My work and my enthusiasm for changing processes, you don't immediately look for in someone who is 64 years old. I don't know the word 'no'. If something can't be done exactly the way you want it, then it can always be done partially." 
Photo: Hans (in blue) and his colleagues ran 16 kilometres during the Tilburg Ten Miles several times. So too at this 2002 edition.

Hans can call himself an actual 'Fabory connoisseur' with almost fifty years of service on the counter. The organisation knows more people who have been working in the company for years. They helped create a timeline, that takes you on a journey through 75 years of Fabory in words and pictures. 

View the timeline

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