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"Does a customer want a sausage of 350 grams instead of 300 grams? We will make it for you. More mustard? No problem! Long rib cut in half in a crate, or rather in three pieces? You name it. I can hardly say no. I like everything," says Dick Wever, director and owner of G. Van Dalen's Vleescentrale.
Dick Wever is a driven narrator. "This is not a company of which you can find a hundred alike. I joined the company in 2007. A stubborn guy who had already worked anywhere in the meat sector. Making sausages was new to me, yet I had an interview on Friday and went to work on Monday."
It was a bit like starting from scratch for him. The machines that were there were not brand new. There were no recipes from his predecessors. So it was a matter of talking to suppliers, with customers, trying a lot and making long shifts. Dick: "With every feedback you get, you can improve even further." In 2009, he was given the opportunity to take over the company. "I didn't want to keep doing the same thing until I was 65. I wanted to do the things that I enjoy; the contact with the farmers, the deliveries to the butchers. But for my own company."
This customer focus has always been part of the company. "But since you joined, it has become even stronger," says Mark Sijm, sales and technical advisor at Habuba (a sister company of Van Uhm BV in Borne), to Dick. Mark should know, because he has been visiting Van Dalen for about twelve years now. A large part of the meat processing equipment at Wever comes from Habuba. Is Dick satisfied with that? With a big smile: " If not, he wouldn't be sitting here. All jokes aside, in the market people tell you that you should go to Habuba and I had been talking to Mark for a long time. We are sober West Frisians among each other. It simply has to be good. That’s it."
Dick Wever (left) and Mark Sijm (right)
Since Dick Wever took over the company, Van Dalen has grown considerably. He currently has about 30 employees in the company and supplies to some 70 butchers. At the same time, he 'only' slaughters 30 cows a week. Traditional numbers. "That's a conscious choice, you can't deliver our quality and service when you're bigger. Every customer wants things to be just a little bit different, exactly the way he wants it. He doesn't have to ask us for that every time. We know exactly what he wants."
And that's precisely how it is between Habuba and Van Dalen. "If you know each other's wishes, one word is enough. Everything is right. What's crucial is what machine suits my company'. Habuba has always given good advice." Dick's heart starts beating faster thanks to the tumbler from Rühle ("a great brand") and the 120 litre dish cutter from K+G Wetter ("versatile device"). These are machines that are easy to use and 'clumsy proof'. "Important", says Dick, "because if someone is ill, someone else should be able to take over the work easily. And the maintenance guy we have here gets input from Habuba, so we know what to look out for."
Dick says he's a big animal lover. "I often get the question why I own a slaughterhouse. Well, I think it's unique that I can be the link between the two, because then I know it's done right." Animal welfare is a given for Wever, it's not something he has suddenly started with, because there is a demand for it. "That story was already there with Gillis van Dalen. But now we are sharing the story." Animal welfare starts with the farmer. "Herd and animals have to look well cared for. I always talk to the farmer a lot, so I can be sure it's right from start to finish."
Would he consider himself a demanding customer? "It has to be right, and I don't want to have to chase after things twice. With Habuba, however, things run smoothly, quickly and clearly. Saying it once is enough." Mark Sijm is pleased to work with G. Van Dalen's Vleescentrale. "For us, these are great customers. If you're talking to the owner directly, it makes things very easy."
Photos: © Nikki Natzijl
Source: © Vakblad Voedingsindustrie 2019