Interview with Johan Willemsen, owner and founder of Cartec
The Cartec team is one big family, so there are always stories to tell. In the "people" section we interview a colleague about his or her work, but also about dreams, trends and what we simply always wanted to know about them. This is ...
Who are you and what do you do at Cartec?
My name is Johan Willemsen, owner and founder of Cartec. I started Cartec 33 years ago. Last year I handed over the management to my son Jos. He is doing very well, and I’m very proud of that. I’m still involved in the day-to-day operations. I prefer to work on sales related matters. You can also still find me in the lab developing new products.
How did Cartec get started?
In 1986 I came into contact with a manufacturer who wanted to sell car care products in the Netherlands. I was very interested in cars, but was not familiar with these kind of products. Together with a friend, I decided to quit our day job and start selling these products.
Immediately things went well. We had to expand after only three months and we both bought a delivery van which we used to visit car and car detailing companies. We also had several independent dealers set up with their own area. Thirty-three years later we still work with these dealers from the very beginning. I’m proud of that. Good relationships are very important to me.
After five years working with this manufacturer we decided that we wanted to sell higher quality products. Our business wasn’t expanding anymore and the manufacturer could not deliver better products. Because I also couldn’t find better products anywhere else, I decided to develop it myself. After two years of hard work our first product was finished: the Perfect Polish. We started producing it ourselves and it was an instant hit, the product is still a success 25 years later. We then developed our entire product line in-house with the help of talented people around us. Because we produce everything ourselves in our own factory, we have complete control over the quality. That makes us a strong partner.
What really gives you joy at work?
I like the sales aspect, but I also very much enjoy developing new products in the laboratory. As a twelve year old I was already playing with chemistry boxes at home.
In addition, entrepreneurship and customer relations give me great satisfaction.
We have customers all over the world. Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia. We even organize seminars in China. During a three-day training course some five hundred Chinese detailers receive and share their own experiences with our product. I find it an amazing sight to behold. It’s also a very nice part of my job. Because we sell our products worldwide, I get to meet many interesting and fascinating people and cultures.
What does a typical workday look like?
When I’m not on a business trip, I usually start a day at the office around 9 a.m. Jos is in charge of managing the company, and I keep focus on the big picture. I also focus on sales a lot and I like to be in the laboratory to develop new products. That helps me to be and stay creative and inventive.
Where are you most proud of?
I am proud of where the company is now. We started as a small company and have become a household name worldwide, thanks to a team of great employees and partners. I don’t always realize how far we’ve come, because I’m right in the middle of it all.
I am also very pleased with our customer relationships. They know what they can expect from us and the quality we deliver. Most are good friends as well as good partners.
I am also proud of the family character of our company. It is wonderful to see how committed and enthusiastic my wife and our children are at Cartec. I owe a lot to them. And how loyal and committed our employees are.
What skills are especially important in your job?
Entrepreneurship has to be in your blood. You mustn’t be afraid to take big steps.
It’s also important to be a perfectionist. Most of our customers are too. So the products must be of top quality. As a result, it takes more time to develop a product. Our new products can only enter the market if the quality is superb.
How do you stay on top of emerging trends in your workfield?
Social media has become incredibly important. We have changed course on that. Our goal was always to develop the best product. But we sometimes forgot to share the result with the world using social media. We are now taking a different approach and it’s already showing promising results.
I also stay informed through contact with our customers. I always ask about their wishes. This way you keep on top of the market.
What do you particularly like about Cartec?
Building the company with a great team of employees and partners. I think it is very important that all our employees go to work with a sense of joy. I also find the relationships with our partners and customers very important. We do this based on the values and norms that belong to the family character of our company. I hope to show that entrepreneurship is much more than just earning a living.
What is your biggest dream?
Cartec becoming an even bigger player in the world of car care. Also increasing our production capacity and entering more new markets in the future is something I look forward to.