THE SECOND GENERATION

In 1992, brothers Paul and Rob Hoekstra took over the shares of the WEMO group. This transfer was arranged by their father Sip, who ‘sold’ his third child to his sons due to a business takeover and modern insights. At that time, Rob had just graduated and was ready to start his career at WEMO, while Paul had just started his studies in Antwerp.

Shortly thereafter, Sip Hoekstra suddenly passed away from a heart attack in his beloved Fiesch, Switzerland. No one had foreseen this scenario: the banks that arranged the financing of the transfer, the staff, the family, everyone was devastated by the loss of the cornerstone of WEMO. He ruled with a firm but fair hand; you could either work with him or not. Therefor the WEMO he had built was a close-knit and hard-working team, and his loss was significant for many.

 

Shortly before his death, Sip had sold the largest order ever to Chicago Metallic, based in Belgium. This was a 60-meter-long line for producing aluminum ceiling panels, including painting. Chicago Metallic organized a posthumous tribute in which an emotional Ria Hoekstra and her two sons received the honor on behalf of Sip. Sip always said, “You have to take good care of the home front, then employees are always willing to work overtime.” His wife’s speech revealed how much he had shared both joy and sorrow.

 

Rob, however, did not yet have enough experience to lead WEMO independently, leading to a turbulent period with various interim managers and external directors. One interim manager, accustomed to reorganizing companies, found a full order portfolio for three years and cash in the bank at WEMO. His proposal to purchase a helicopter for faster transportation was kindly but firmly rejected.

 

Eventually, the Hoekstra brothers took action. Rob was already working within WEMO as a system integrator and shareholder, while Paul began his career at WEMO after returning from Antwerp. There was much to clean up and set straight; the team was doing good work, but the leadership needed attention.

 

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Paul started with the sale of punching units, but after two years, WEMO decided to shift its focus to the production of complete machine lines and service. Aftersales and service were transformed into Customer Care, with machines now being assembled and completed at WEMO instead of on-site. This department also began focusing on retrofits, extending the lifespan of the machines.

 

WEMO closed this period with a highlight: the sale of 20 machines to Bisley, an English company led by the remarkable and business-savvy Mr. Brown.

 

A past full of challenging times, during which hard work has brought us to where we are now. Next week, we dive into the final chapter of our story. Read it here: HERE AND NOW

 

 

 

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