From a small village in Lithuania all the way to a potato factory in Australia, product manager Ivo Luijckx (40) already traveled to all corners of the world for JASA. But, Ivo’s career at JASA consists of more than just traveling. During the 2008 crisis he worked particularly fiercely, and finally changing his position to spend more time with his little daughter.
What is your favorite pass time during your time off?
“Time off, What? I work at JASA, I am supposed to work! Haha. No honestly, I love to tweak my motorbike, my ride is a vintage Russian bike with a sidecar. Ride it for 30 feet and prepare to pull out the toolbox again, I just call it the charm of the bike. I am married, I have an eight-year-old daughter, Noortje, and a dog named Arthur. During the weekends, we love to spend time on the beach, at the zoo or the dunes. Sitting still is just not my thing.”
You did not sit still at JASA either, how did your career develop?
“After my internship at JASA, I started as a service technician. After some time, I moved into electrical engineering, a move I thoroughly enjoyed! I worked as an electronics draftsman, supported the work floor, started internal projects, and did a lot more. However, as time passed by, I got restless. It is only fun for so long to perform a repetitive job. I enjoy much more working out strategies to complete a job in a smarter, automated, or improved way in general. For me, that is the challenge I seek, a job that will not bore me. Reasons enough to let the people at JASA know that I was ready for change. While I was an electrical engineer, I used to work on a variety of projects; hence, a logical step to move into the role of project manager.”
What was it like to be a project manager?
“During that time, JASA was still in its pioneering phase, tasks or work structure were not defined yet. Everybody tackled any job at hand. My passion is to create structure and procedures. For example, the process from first order to final installation: how can we optimize the process, who is responsible for what, what are the bottlenecks in the process? Those are the questions I want answers to. It is truly motivating to see a plan work out for the best! Sadly in 2008, the crisis struck and hit us at JASA. We had to lay off staff as sales declined.”
What changed for you personally during the crisis?
“Eventually, I became the only project manager, which induced a lot of work for one man. On top of that, because a number of colleagues had left, several tasks fell apart. Tasks that ended up on my plate. In the end, I found myself handling the planning for the work floor as well as work out the financial reports. The ones still here had to pull their all our weight to survive the struggle.”
What is your dream job at JASA?
“That is the job I landed in after my tenure as a project manager. Export sales! The position opened up and required a person with in-depth knowledge of our machines. In light of my previous roles at JASA, I fitted the profile. An export sales representative must be able to advise the customers about the machines that best fit their needs, as well as explain them the best way to package for instance a pound of potatoes. My in-depth knowledge about the machines enabled me to explain clearly the best-fitted machine and procedure for a task. The sales edge was entirely new for me though, and I had to gain experience in that field, luckily that too went smooth from day one!”
Why is export sales so much fun for you?
“The traveling! The travel experience enriches your life. On behalf of JASA, I have traveled extensively through Europe, and I have been to Russia, Korea, China, America, Australia, New-Zealand, and Israel. Obviously, I had a job to do in all of these places; still, I had the chance to look around places where I typically would not have traveled to. I mean, how soon would one go to China? Or when would you take a trip to the countryside of Slovenia? I once landed in a little village in Lithuania. I met up there with an upset customer while it was snowing, that is when I hit my groove! Away from my natural habitat. I have visited places in Russia where I definitely would not want to live. In these moments, you realize how spoiled we are, living in the Netherlands. We should not complain as much as we do.”
Why did you leave the export department?
“I was traveling every other week that combined with my new relationship and at the same time co-parenting my daughter was a little bit much. For a while I tried to fool myself into thinking that this was a doable scenario. Obviously, the three are not combinable at all. That is why I made the move to Product Manager. Noortje now is half the time with me. On top of that, I get to work regular hours and can spend my free time gallivanting around. However, in all fairness; my heart is still with the export department. I do miss traveling and the contact with our customers. Maybe in a few years, when my little girl has grown up a bit, I might wander back there.”
Do you have a yarn to spin from your time at JASA?
“Haha, sure I do! There is always something going on at JASA. At 18 I had to join our director Piet Pannekeet, to visit a customer in Northern Italy, we made the trip in his Mercedes. I was on the job when Piet showed up around 4 pm in the afternoon. He threw his car keys into my toolbox and casually mentioned that he had to go. I did not think much of it and was sure he would be back later. That night at 11 pm, he still had not returned, and our client then told me that he had driven Piet to the airport to catch a flight to Poland to meet another client there. Say what?! In the end, the patron booked me a hotel room for the night. The next day I drove back to the Netherlands, in Piet’s Mercedes.”
Have you ever pulled any practical jokes?
“A while back, a few of the guys and I pulled a practical joke on Piet, who is not real savvy when it comes to electronics like cellular phones, computers, keyboards, the whole shebang. When I found a broken laptop on one of our shelves which was the exact same brand and type Piet has, I could not resist and had to pull a prank. We took the broken laptop outside, sprinkled it with gasoline and lit it up. We let it burn just enough to make belief the computer had caught fire by itself. We connected a mouse to it and we placed it on Piet’s desk. When Piet came in and saw the laptop, he nearly literally popped an eyeball! He was convinced the machine had caught fire by itself and exclaimed that we had escaped a catastrophe and the whole factory could have burned to the ground. Just around the corner, we stood there laughing like hyenas, hilarious! This is why I am working at JASA for the longest time. We all work brutally hard, but together, we also know how to have fun.”
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