How did you get into the field of trade?
My father Piet was already a pig trader. After he died, at the age of 50, my sister took over the business. That was in 1961. My brother Toon and I were still too young to join this business, but as soon as we were shown this chance, we joined. I was 19 years old. We expanded trade in the Netherlands. Annie chose to go in another direction at one point. As of 1974, we felt the need to gather and focus on export activities. We did this through the company called Gebroeders Govers BV. Our first customer from abroad was Jurgen Nisch from Germany. Soon after, France and other European countries followed. We carried out transports with green-yellow coloured vehicles. They had become known throughout Europe at some point.
How did the company develop later?
We had the courage to take risks. I believe this made us stand out. With every occasion we tried to cross borders. We managed to do everything by ourselves, from trade to accounting. Communication took place through telex or fax. During those days, there were no mobile phones. Work was difficult. Weeks of 100 hours were no exception and even our partners José and Hanneke gave us a hand when we needed help. And this gave us much strength: the fact that we have always been a family company. We needed each other. Since Toon died in 1998, his son, Pim, became part of the company. We were called VAEX by then, already. If it wasn't for him, I don't know if I had been able to keep everything under control. The same thing is also valid for Dirk, who entered the company in 2002. Sometimes there were clashes between us, this happens when you bring two generations together. But I am extremely grateful to both of them for the responsibility they have taken on.
You retired in 2018. How do you feel in this position?
I have dedicated my whole life, soul and salvation to this company. The company was the main thing. Always! No, this is not necessarily a good thing. But that is in my nature. All of a sudden you have much time left, it is something you have to get used to. Fortunately, I can still provide services and assistance to the company. And sometimes I still travel abroad with VAEX. I can really enjoy that! Besides this, I can catch up with some of my hobbies too. I go for walks, ride my bike, play golf and spend time with my grandchildren. We are also building a new house. I just can't sit still. I must always keep myself busy with something.
How do you feel about the company now?
I am very proud. Since 2005 Dirk and Pim have established the main lines. At one point it was time for me to retire. That was quite difficult for me, as I have always seen my work as a hobby. But Pim and Dirk found that I should enjoy life in another way. It's nice to see how Pim and Dirk worked at the company and how they brought it to the stage it is now. I really think we now have a top team, both in the livestock and truck trading department. This helped me to distance myself from the company.
A fun fact:
Leo was not good at foreign languages when he was in school. In the meantime, he managed to learn 6 languages: Dutch, French, German, English, Spanish and Italian.
Four short questions for Leo:
What is your favourite piece of meat?
The pork loin.
What is your favourite music?
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my grandchildren. They are a gift. Before, I used to have less time for my children. Times were different by then, anyway. Now I really enjoy spending time with them.
What do you hate / don't like to do?
To pay too much money and do nothing.