‘I hear the call of the open road every day and always will, even after I retire’

‘I hear the call of the open road every day and always will, even after I retire’

Today, on Labour Day, we are taking a moment to celebrate the special anniversary of an equally special individual. Driver and mentor Marcel Nieuwets has been a dedicated member of our team for 45 years now and we could not be more grateful. Marcel is not a fan of the spotlight but we wanted to take a moment to introduce him to you and to reflect on the indispensable role he plays in our team.

Marcel began working as an intern at H.Essers in 1972, immediately after finishing secondary school. He started as a mechanic before quickly earning his driver’s certificate. ‘It was a bit easier in those days than it is now,’ he admits. ‘But I rode alongside Noël Essers for the first few years, so I was under the direct supervision of the boss. I learned a lot from him and we went through a lot together!’ That may be a bit of an understatement. Those who have spoken to Marcel about the early days of driving for H.Essers have undoubtedly heard about the time he and Noël were snowed in on a Yugoslavian mountain pass or about how Marcel and a team of drivers accidentally caused a road block in France, among other stories.

Marcel experienced first-hand what H.Essers was like in its early days and how the company has grown over the years. ‘In a small company, everything is familiar and small-scale. They used to put our payslips in an open cupboard that everyone walked past. If you had a problem, you would call Noël personally. Over the years the company, the fleet and the team grew, and more structure and more rules were needed. That’s completely understandable and H.Essers managed to do it without losing its sense of family.’

Training drivers

Marcel spent thousands of days driving for H.Essers. He also spent fifteen years investing in the company’s future by training a new generation of drivers specialising in bulk and security transport – a role not everyone can fulfil. ‘I’ve always been a calm person,’ says Marcel. ‘I never feel stressed. I really look at the person behind the wheel and tell them honestly when they make a mistake or if they need to gain more experience.’ In this job, he sees a difference between younger and older drivers. ‘I always try to instil in the younger generation an understanding of how important reliability is in this business. If you’re honest and you follow the rules, I’ll walk through fire for you.’ Marcel learned this work ethic from the best. ‘Noël Essers is truly devoted to his drivers. This isn’t an easy profession. I want to offer that same support and I hope the person who comes after me will do the same.’

Trucker honeymoon

Marcel’s love of the road and his truck does not end when work is over. ‘The best example I can think of is that my wife Hélène and I took the truck on our honeymoon,’ he says with a laugh. ‘Driving is a real passion of mine. I’ve spent years driving to and from Italy, so I know the European roads like the back of my hand. For example, five years ago we drove to Istanbul without a GPS.’ Having reached the pensionable age of 68, Marcel will soon have even more time for trips like these. ‘But leaving is harder than I thought it would be because I really love my job. Maybe I’ll retire this August. If I do, I’ve already made plans to drive for H.Essers one day a week – just to stay sharp!’ he says, laughing.

H.Essers would like to congratulate Marcel Nieuwets with this impressive anniversary and thank him for his many years of dedication!