Fatherhood is ingrained in our company’s values and identity. Our award-winning tulip supplier, H.M van Haaster, lives and breathes fatherhood as a fourth-generation family-run business. To honor Father’s Day, we had the privilege to talk to Harry, the current owner of H.M van Haaster, and his son Hein - who also happens to be the husband of our CEO and Co-founder, Kim van Haaster. Harry and Hein kindly sat down with us for a Q&A about about fatherhood, family traditions, and running a family business.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Harry: I always wanted to work in the flower industry but I thought one day I would live and work in France. I love the people, the culture and the food.
Hein: Honestly, when I was really young I wanted to be a pilot and a doctor, both things. But more the pilot, because I don’t like hospitals.
What was your first job and how did it go?
Harry: I first worked at HM van Haaster with my father and I helped out with planting, chopping, harvesting, all the usual stuff that happens in the farm.
Hein: My first job was also at the business, my father started me at the bottom helping out on the fields and with processing in the warehouses.
The van Haaster family
What is/was your favorite thing and most challenging thing about working in the family business?
Harry: My favorite thing about working in the family business is getting to pass on my knowledge and expertise to my son. I get to see him learn and grow every day! The most challenging part is separating family and business time. We try our best to leave our work in the workplace when we’re not there.
Hein: My favorite thing is being able to work with people, especially my family, and I like opening up new business & visiting new customers. The most challenging part is how much time it takes, it’s very long hours. You really can’t do this job part time.
Any advice when working in a family business?
Harry: Communicate! It’s important to be open about your expectations of each other at home and in the workplace.
Hein: If you want to work in a family business, create something that is your own from the start. Find a way to have your own unique contribution.
Hein and daughter, Eva
What traits did you most admire in your father?
Harry: He has so much energy and is always so active. At the age of 87 he still rides his bike every day, jogs through the dunes every week and still manages his own customers in the business. Retired over 20 years ago but is still so young at heart.
Hein: He’s really a people person, he knows how to talk and make people feel comfortable. He is also so good at languages, in our business it is so important to be able to speak to our customers in their mother tongue and it’s something I am working on myself.
What traditions did your father pass on to you that you passed on to your children?
Harry: It is a family tradition to prepare flower mosaics for the flower festival every year. I’ve been doing this with my children for years.
Hein: I love making flower mosaics and I hope to do this with my daughter when she’s old enough.
Do you think today's fathers have things harder or easier than you had/have them?
Harry: I think it’s all relative, there’s no way to compare how difficult it was for me to raise children compared to my father. There are always challenges in parenthood regardless of your generation.
Hein: I think it is harder today because often both parents are working full-time. When I was growing up my mum was at home full-time to take care of us. Now my wife and I do our best to equally share the responsibilities of our daughter.
What do you enjoy most about being a father?
Harry: I love seeing them grow up into adults and starting their own lives. I feel so blessed to be able to see them build their families and meet my grandchildren.
Hein: Basically everything, I can’t pinpoint one thing. I love seeing her develop, her curiosity, playing with her, how she laughs, there is so much. It’s everything about her that makes me love being a father!
Is there something that you wish you had experienced that you haven't yet experienced?
Harry: I always wanted to own a boat, it was my dream to go on long sailing trips with my wife.
Hein: I want to see the Amazon rainforest, I want to travel more! See places that I’ve never seen before and learn about them too. I want to try the food, experience cultures. Africa, South America. But it doesn’t need to happen tomorrow.
What are the three happiest moments in your life so far?
Harry: When my three sons were born!
Hein: (1) Meeting Kim, (2) my daughter being born, (3) graduating university
It was great to hear about their experiences as Fathers and as a family in business. Harry and Hein have worked together for years now and it is Hein's hope that he can pass his expertise onto the next generation of van Haasters.
Thank you for reading and we wish you and your loved ones a Happy Father's day!