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From dog cart to smart logistics solutions.

On November 26, 2020, our international tank and bulk transport company celebrated its 100th anniversary. In 1920, the then 19-year-old Albert Keijzer laid the foundation for what is now one of the largest transport companies in the Zaan region (Zaanstreek). The family business was characterised by its sober, honest and straightforward mentality. The company experienced years of rapid growth, but also the necessary crises and setbacks. After the war, son Jacob (Co) also started working in the company. When Albert died in 1972, Co Keijzer continued the family business. What his father left him as a solid base, Co expanded into a modern company in the field of international bulk and tank transport. In 2006, the third generation continued the business. Son-in-law Rob de Visser succeeded Co Keijzer as managing director. The company is increasingly specialising in logistics solutions for the transport of high-quality raw food materials.

Under the heading 'The future of our past’, you can read more about the history of our company below.

Foresight and pioneering blood as a prerequisite.

Albert Keijzer had several jobs since he was 14 years old, and kept his eyes peeled. Much of the domestic transport in 1915 was done by ship. Yet changes were afoot. Albert Keijzer saw these changes coming. Under the motto 'better a small boss than a big servant’, he started a transport company. He had noticed that some dignitaries from surrounding villages did their shopping in Zaandam and had the goods delivered to their homes. He could make a living doing that, he just needed a means of transportation. It would be a dog cart: cheap and modest. He succeeded in finding customers and started his business at the age of 19 from his parents house at Oostzijde 440. Soon the dog cart proved to have its limitations. The step to a horse and carriage is quickly made.

Two businesses in one family.

In 1922, Albert Keijzer bought his first T-Ford for the enormous sum of 1,700 florins. As a resourceful entrepreneur at heart, he obviously needed to earn back this investment quickly. Albert was not easily deterred and, together with smithy Blokker and Prins, built a trailer that could be coupled to the T-Ford. This allowed him to transport sawn timber, which was in high demand. Despite the fact that the engine and brakes of the T-Ford aren't quite up to handling such a heavy load, Albert finds new ways to make money with his Ford and trailer. By placing benches on the trailer during the weekends, the Ford with trailer serves as a bus for passenger transport.

In 1925, Albert Keijzer married Pietertje Peijs. A woman who was also used to working hard. Pietertje had a great urge for independence and therefore opened a cigar shop in the house on Czarinastraat. It was open from 5 am to 10 pm. Long days, but this way, Mrs Keijzer could get and keep the boat workers who work in shifts as customers. These boat workers were also involved in the timber supply, which in turn was of importance to Albert.

The transport company was doing better and better and a second T-Ford was added. Brother-in-law Klaas Veenis becomes the first employee.

No lack of entrepreneurial spirit.

In 1927, son Jacob Keijzer is born, known to many as Co. When the crisis years hit in 1930, choices had to be made in order to provide for the family. The young family therefore moves into the wooden house on the East side, where the company is also located. This allows the house and cigar shop on Czarina Street to be sold. The proceeds are put into the transport company. To overcome the crisis, Albert started repairing his cars at night so that they could be driven during the day. The transport company was having a hard time. Sometimes a car was already loaded before they realised there is no money for petrol. Mrs Keijzer then rode her bicycle to the client to get an advance on the freight charges.

During the crisis years, transport company Wijtenkamp was a strong competitor. The company was financially so strong that it was able to buy 10 Kromhout wagons and 20 trailers at once. Kromhout was the Rolls Royce of trucks. Meanwhile Albert, with blood, sweat and tears, was only able to expand his fleet with a single Chevrolet. Co once told the anecdote of the car salesman who came by. “There was work, but not enough cars to drive. My father Albert told the car salesman that he wanted to try out the car with a load first, otherwise you couldn’t really test the car. No sooner said than done, but of course, the car went back after the test drive, because there was no money to buy it.”

Later, Albert bought a Chevrolet from America. The car is cheap because the trailer coupling does not work on the European system. Albert reverses the coupling and it works. He would enjoy the American Chevrolet for years to come. With Albert's entrepreneurial spirit, the company made it through the 1930s. But then, a new challenge emerged: the Second World War.

Starting all over again.

When the Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940, Albert Keijzer quickly noticed the consequences. The transport of goods was decreasing rapidly and cars were being confiscated. Keijzer was left with one truck. Petrol is no longer available, but luckily, Albert manages to get an allocation for coal from the Rijks Verkeersinspectie. Cars could run on this if they were equipped with a coal generator. Albert trades some of the coal for grain and other food to feed his family. Albert put the money he had received from an NSB official for the confiscation of one of his best cars into a brick house. This should serve as a financial buffer to start over after the war. It was a visionary move, because after the war, the company had to be rebuilt from scratch.

Once the war was over, there was plenty of work. The brick house is sold and the proceeds are invested in the purchase of an army truck assigned by the RVI.

The Netherlands had to be rebuilt, and the Zaandam timber trade and industry flourished. Companies like Bruynzeel produced doors, cabinets and kitchens at the top of their game. As in-house transporter, more than 70% of Keijzer's turnover came from Bruynzeel. In order to prevent unexpected developments, Keijzer makes the agreement that payments will be made every week. Cash on the barrelhead. That's the lesson Albert learned from his pre-war entrepreneurship. Just like the lesson of not growing too fast. If you do, your own organisation will often be unable to cope, with all the consequences this entails.

Better times come around. There is hardly a house in the Netherlands without a Bruynzeel door. And Albert Keijzer delivers them. Well-considered investments are made and Albert makes his payments every day. That way he knows exactly what he's left with.

Family business of flesh and blood.

At first, Co was not allowed to enter the company by his father. Albert had only finished primary school and had been working since he was fourteen. Co had to be given the chance to do things differently. He had to keep learning. He ended up going to teacher training college. After his education, Co quickly gave up teaching. In 1948 Co went to work for his father. As a driver, he has to start from the bottom. Co doesn't get paid: "If you need money, let me know", said father Albert. In six years' time Co, from behind the wheel, got to know the transport world from top to bottom.

When Co was planning to marry Hendrika Maria Out, Albert acquired a piece of land from the Schoen paint factory that was subject to an obligation to rebuild. Because there is a government subsidy attached to this rebuilding, funds are freed up to build a house for Co and his bride-to-be.

The cooperation between father and son was excellent. According to Co, his father was the boss, but they decided everything together. Of course there were sometimes differences of opinion, but things would be discussed in a positive way and problems were solved.

From wood transport to tank transport.

In the 1950s, the transport of wood no longer provides the main income. During one of the trips abroad, Co Keijzer became acquainted with tankers, then unknown in the Netherlands. Although father Albert did not see a future in it, together with oil refinery Pieter Bon, they bought a flat trailer to mount a tank on. However, the vehicle would be waiting for its first cargo for year and a half, because all the oils are still being transported in drums.

Meanwhile, Crok & Laan has also purchased a tank truck. When this one had to come off the road for a repair, Co Keijzer jumped in. Co asked the garage company to postpone the repair as long as possible, so that it would take six months before the tanker is repaired. After driving for Crok & Laan for six months, Albert Keijzer now had sufficient liquid transport. They were even driving to Belgium and Switzerland.

Tankers had to be added and the delivery time was long. Because Albert Keijzer could pay in cash, Co Keijzer managed to buy a tanker under construction before the competition could.

The first step towards bulk transport.

For the Wester Suiker Raffinaderij, Albert Keijzer drove liquid sugar to Hero in Breda, among others. The new challenge is to investigate whether sugar can also be transported in granulated form. Technisch Bureau van der Molen from Wormerveer designed a wagon for bulk transport of granulated sugar, commissioned by Albert Keijzer. An expensive challenge, while the cargo supply was still low. Nevertheless, CSM (Centrale Suiker Maatschappij), the parent company of the Wester Suiker Raffinaderij, saw a future in it. It would only be about 10 years before bulk transport became profitable for Albert Keijzer.

These days, bulk transport has become indispensable. Besides bulk transport of sugar, Albert Keijzer nowadays transports cocoa powder, flour and many other kinds of granulates.

Tank transport of chemicals on the rise.

About sixty years ago, the government decided to add fluoride to drinking water to prevent tooth decay. The large-scale transport of silicone-hydrogen-fluorine was carried out by Albert Keijzer, by order of Albatros Superfosfaatfabrieken. Due to the corrosive effect of the substance, it could not be transported in aluminium, stainless steel or iron tanks. Albert Keijzer therefore had two tanks built with a rubber tank liner. These drove continuously to Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Germany. When politicians decided a few years later to stop adding fluoride to drinking water, the special tankers became superfluous.

Fortunately, shortly after the fluorine adventure, an order follows from the Electro Zuur- en Waterstoffabriek for the transport of vinyl acetate and acetic acid. For Albatros, Albert Keijzer also took care of the transport of large quantities of fertiliser in those years. But changing and stricter environmental requirements meant that the transport of fertiliser gave way to new clients and the transport of other chemicals.

Flowers do wonders.

When Bruijnzeel moved to Bergen op Zoom in the mid-seventies and the local hauliers in the region took over the transports, it was time for Albert Keijzer to change course. Co read in the newspaper that cardboard factory De Hoop is going to establish itself in the Zaanstreek. He immediately sent some flowers and a friendly welcome note. As a result, he was invited to the director's office. He was asked to make a quotation, because they wanted to work with a haulier from the region. In the decades that followed, Albert Keijzer provided dozens of trips for De Hoop every week. There was also an increasing amount of work in the transport of chemicals. This required quite a few adjustments, because these dangerous transports require a lot of knowledge from the driver. Transportation of chemical substances became a specialism.

From father to son.

In 1972, 2 years after the 50th anniversary of the company, Albert Keijzer dies. A huge blow for Co: “My father and I had an exceptionally good relationship, both business and private. Fortunately, my father had taken care of everything, both financially and professionally. But now I was on my own, and all of a sudden, I'm in charge. Fortunately, everyone got used to it quickly and the company's growth continued steadily”. When the company existed for 50 years, there were 45 vehicles. In 1995, when Albert Keijzer celebrated its 75th anniversary, more than 100 trucks and 160 trailers were on the road, covering more than 10 million kilometres. The proof that Albert, as founder, has provided a solid foundation for the future.

One Europe.

According to Co, the disappearance of the European borders in 1993 offers not just opportunities, but also threats. Due to the removal of complicated customs formalities, which sometimes took a week or months, Albert Keijzer could now, for example, unload in Sweden, load new goods there and unload them in Germany and then go home with another load. Albert Keijzer even had a branch in Belgium at the time in order to be able to bypass all those complicated transport permits for transports to France. With the disappearance of the borders, this became much easier. But it also had drawbacks. Co Keijzer: “All those ‘free boys’ came here, leased a car and got to work. No investments, no possessions, just driving. Often at cost price. My father said during the 50th anniversary of the business in 1970 -Het is allemaal van main- meaning that everything within the company was bought and paid for by the family”. No more was invested than was available. And that is still the case today.

The transport sector in motion.

The 1990s saw many changes in the transport industry. Not only were distances becoming longer due to the disappearance of borders, but truck manufacturers were also making major technological advances and there was an increasing focus on quality, safety and the environment. These are all developments that continue to this day.

We may not be able to imagine that cars and trucks did not have power steering, ABS, or power brakes. But there are still many drivers at Albert Keijzer who have travelled tens of thousands of kilometres without those things.

The new techniques not only improve driver comfort, they also changed maintenance. The quality of tyres and oils improved significantly, engines became more fuel efficient and powerful, aerodynamic drag improved and components like fuel pumps last longer.

When it comes to the environment and safety, Albert Keijzer likes to lead the way. In 1991, the company received its first ISO-9002 certificate. This way, Albert Keijzer proves to meet the quality standards that may be expected from a modern transport company. From then on, Albert Keijzer also complies with the NEN-2726 standard, concerning requirements for transporting dangerous substances, environmental care and personnel safety.

To this day, the company still devotes a great deal of time and energy to the environment and safety.

New generation focuses on modernisation and growth.

As a 19-year-old MTS (secondary technical school) student and father of daughter Ingeborg, Rob de Visser was asked by Co to join the company. He did have to start at the bottom of the ladder. In the following years Rob grew from tank cleaner and car washer to a planner. He follows the necessary training courses and increasingly assisted his father-in-law with management. In 2000, Rob took over the management of the company from his father-in-law. Co tries to take some distance, but remains involved in the company in his own way.

In 2001, the many efforts of the past and the expectations for the future were rewarded. Albert Keijzer was chosen as the best Zaanse Company of 2001 from three nominated companies. The prize was awarded during the Zaanse Entrepreneurs Day in November 2001. View the company report that was made on the occasion of the Zaanse Entrepreneur Prize 2001 here.

Since he took office, Rob has faced numerous challenges, which he has tackled head on. A new management team was put in place, consisting of Rob, Peter Brunekreef and Jos Baltes. The agenda consists of a long list of wishes to modernise and further improve the business operations in almost all respects. Read more about the future vision of our company here.

Past the 100-year mark at full speed.

How do you prepare for a 100th anniversary if you want to organise a nice party, but there is a virus raging around the world? Then you have to pull out all the stops with all your creativity. And we did, literally and figuratively. On Thursday 26 November 2020, a film was launched in the early morning in which Mayor Hamming of Zaanstad took the lead in a long series of congratulations. During the film, the book ‘De toekomst van ons verleden’ (The future of our past) was also presented. This book about Albert Keijzer's 100th anniversary was presented, along with an anniversary box, to all Albert Keijzer staff and contacts.


bedrijfsfilm 100 jaar Albert Keijzer
Know more about Albert Keijzer Transport?
Watch here our jubilee movie about our 100th anniversary.

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