Growing up in an entrepreneurial family, Piet Pannekeet knew one thing: he wanted to run his own business. “I have a lot of respect for my father, the way he worked and ran his own business. I wanted to do the same”, Piet Pannekeet says. Piet was the only one of eight brothers and sisters who always wanted to be involved in his fathers business. His involvement and interest in his father's business later grew and evolved into what is now JASA Packaging solutions.
From farming to cutting vegetables
Piet Pannekeet’s grandfather was a farmer when he started selling his products door-to-door. This was so successful that he turned it into a supermarket in Den Helder in 1955. The supermarket chain Van Etten had stores across the entire province North Holland and even on the island Texel. Because not all vegetables sold out every day, Piet Pannekeet’s grandfather started cutting up vegetables and selling them pre-cut. The processed vegetables were such a hit, that Piet Pannekeet's father started a vegetable cutting business in Alkmaar under the name ‘Keurtuin’ together with two partners: Kees Kuiper and Siem Wokke.
From a very early age, Piet Pannekeet saw his father working hard for his business, and Piet Pannekeet always wanted to be involved. “I was waiting for him in the middle of the night when he headed out to the factory or the auction. That way he couldn’t forget me and had to take me with him,” Piet Pannekeet laughs. It didn’t take long before Piet Pannekeet, age twelve, headed out to the factory at night on his own. “That way my father could sleep a little longer. My mother however, wasn’t a fan of me going to the factory at night alone. She was always worried I’d lose a finger or two.”
From a very young age, Piet Pannekeet helped his father with cleaning, cutting and packing vegetables. “During my years at the Keurtuin, I did everything. But my heart belonged to the machinery”, Piet Pannekeet says. “When I was fifteen, I graduated from the LTS, but most of my knowledge is self-taught.” Piet Pannekeet started adapting and changing machines to optimize them. “I was very inventive and loved coming up with different solutions for different situations.”
After twelve years working for the Keurtuin, Piet Pannekeet started his own business, Pannekeet Machine Techniek (PMT), in 1985. “The first customer happened almost automatically,” Piet Pannekeet remembers. “I knew a lot of people in the industry and they recommended me. ‘You need to go to Pannekeet,’ they would say. The new customers heard I was great with machines and that landed me new clients and got the ball rolling.”
Piet Pannekeet always on the road
With customers across the entire country and Belgium, there wasn't a moment where Piet Pannekeet wasn't on the road. Sandra Pannekeet, Piet Pannekeet’s daughter, remembers the family vacations: “We would always visit a few customers on our way, and then I would spend my time coloring in the canteens.”
“I was always on the road with my car and trailer,” Piet Pannekeet remembers. “I would deliver a machine and pick something else up on my way home. I used to have between 10.000 and 30.000 Gilder in my car at that time.” Most of the time Piet Pannekeet sold the machines when they were still on the trailer. “Customers would ask ‘what have you got there?’ and then the machine was already sold before I even fixed it.”
Once every two weeks, Piet Pannekeet went to Belgium to help his customers in Belgium. “Before I went home I had dinner with the last customer,” Piet Pannekeet says. He always had a good personal relationship with his customers.
Piet Pannekeet now
In 2005 the name PMT changed to JASA. It was a name that was better suited for international clients. “Some customers say the name JASA sounds a bit Chinese,” Piet Pannekeet laughs. But it couldn’t be further from the truth, JASA is a family business, and the name reflects that. JASA is derived from the names of Piet Pannekeet’s children: Jarno and Sandra.
Three years ago Eduard de Haan came onboard to run the day-to-day operations at JASA. Because of this Piet Pannekeet can now take a step back. “I’m excited to see all the changes JASA is undergoing now. I love seeing how people grow into their roles”, Piet Pannekeet says.
The next step for JASA and Piet Pannekeet’s daughter Sandra, is setting up JASA USA. “I love how she’s doing something similar like I did all those years ago: building something new from the ground up. Of course, there’s always support from the Dutch branch, but she will also need to find her own way to get it off the ground. I love seeing how she takes this on.”
Piet Pannekeet still sells packaging machines to the Dutch market. “I also still visit old customers to catch up over coffee. We'll talk an hour about work and another few hours about our private lives”, Piet Pannekeet laughs. Personal contact is something Piet Pannekeet deems very important. “In a good business relationship, you need to be able to talk about other things as well instead of just work.”
And his love for machines? Piet Pannekeet never lost that, even though he’s not building machines for JASA anymore. Right now he pours all of his love for machinery into fixing up old cars. “I take them apart, clean every part and put them back together. Just like I did back in the day at PMT”, Piet Pannekeet says.
With the new start in the United States, JASA is starting a new chapter. Like Piet Pannekeet says: “Nowadays you can’t go and visit a potential client this easily to have coffee and chat. It works very differently in this day and age, but that also brings with it a fun challenge.” With the current course, JASA will embrace these modern challenges with open arms.