What does it mean to make it in the north? This is the one in a series of portraits of local people, organisations, and companies working to further internationalise Groningen, Friesland, and Drenthe. In this instalment, we meet Ruben Beuker, the CEO of Spiro a company located in Emmen specialising in construction of parts for a range of services.
By Morten Pederesen
Whilst Beukers’ previous job as a sales manager saw him travel all around the world, real success came when he started seeing the world come to Emmen. His company, Spiro, now exports its metal products all over the world.
Morten Pedersen: How do you think more International people in Emmen would affect the city?
Ruben Beuker: Emmen has suffered a little in recent years, as lots of people who have grown up here decide that they’d like to work in other cities. It’s really sad, but also proving to be an economic problem. There’s most certainly opportunities for International people here, for example at Spiro around 80% of what we do is export-led. Being a good salesperson isn’t tied to any nationality, and local knowledge could really help.
MP: Do you have any internationals in your organisation right now?
RB: Well, we have one guy from Groningen! Jokes aside, we do have a German gentleman who works here, but he has lived in the Netherlands for around 40 years. Our team would certainly welcome any International people, and in our industry skills are the most important thing.
MP: What factors, do you think, are stopping more Internationals from joining your company?
RB: We are beginning to have more and more International students work with us, and we have done several international projects for business schools, where students come here, help with a real-life project and learn from us. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet hired anyone from this- yet. With the export map that’s coming as part of the ‘Make it in the North’ platform, we might very well need some International people with knowledge of the markets we’d like to enter!
MP: You seem very engaged in your local community. Is Emmen very community-led?
RB: Yes! I think Emmen has a lot to offer. We are proud of ourselves here, but we don’t really show it, and it feels like everyone is very equal here. Emmen gave me all of the opportunities I need, and it can definitely give more people opportunities. There’s lots of organisations dedicated to helping businesses- whether they are large, or just starting out. Right now, I’m the secretary of the local production network, and the chairman of the local Junior Chamber International – an organization for young leaders and entrepreneurs.
MP: And why do you think Emmen is so open?
RB: Here in Emmen we have always had people from a lot of different perspectives; bankers, painters, production leaders and more. It’s nice, since it gives us perspectives on the problems we’re trying to solve, and helps bind everyone together as one city. In larger cities, I might only meet people who think like me, instead of giving me new insights and different views, and we want to continue that!
MP: So, where are your 100% Drents products being exported?
RB: We’ve got a range of products here at Spiro, and they’ve now been exported to all four corners of the world! Our waste-moving floor products have traveled all the way to New York, we have had toploader systems go to Bangkok in Thailand, floor-mounted holding ‘bunkers’ in Cape Town (South Africa); and our recycling systems are in several countries, including one all the way at the Northernmost tip of Norway!
Morten Pedersen is a facilitator living in Groningen, working on Make it in the North with the IWCN