Remt, every inch an entrepreneur, has an impressive list of successes to take credit for. He made a name for himself in retail and has gained a strong industry reputation in the wider Dutch business landscape.
How did you enter the world of business?
Well, directly after graduation, I joined the famous Dutch retail brand Vroom and Dreesman. They offered me the opportunity to develop, look around and immerse myself in retail. They also provided me the ability to gain experience and knowledge in relative peace and quiet. Which is in sharp contrast with the way it is done today, by the way.
So what made you get involved in fashion?
That’s actually very interesting! It was five years after my start at Vroom and Dreesman that I was in Hong Kong and drinking a beer in the hotel bar one evening. I got in a conversation with two Peruvians who were trading in second-hand cotton machines. At that time I didn’t know how much this conversation would change the course of my career. They basically asked me if there would be a possibility that I could bring their trade to Europe. Sure, I thought, and I really didn’t give it more attention.
But then, two weeks later, the phone rang and I was invited to meet and discuss things further. I booked a ticket to Peru and so T-Corporation was born. I built a pretty big fashion brand from scratch, and also later launched two more fashion brands.
But then, after a few years, things changed
Yes, that’s right. After twenty years, I decided it was time to change direction and I bought, together with Roland Kahn, the strong retail fashion brand MS Mode. I took the role of commercial director. You know, I just don’t want to drift off, or fall asleep. It was about time I did some other things. In the years, I established a new position in the textile and retail sector and really distinguished myself by my ability to bring organizations and people back to their core. My basic questions are always: “What are we actually doing here? What do you want? What do you like most?”
So what makes you a different leader?
Well, I think it has to do with making the logical connections. It might even go further. I think I dare to ask the seemingly easy questions that other people fear to ask. And it’s even more important to see the connections, get the full picture, not being blinded by all the pretext and show around it. I’m genuinely curious about the pillars and driving forces of an organization and its people. Spin Turnaround is offering management consult mostly to family businesses in change and help them deal with successor’s issues.
What can you do for family businesses?
A lot! What you see often is that the family business founder is about to retire and family members are forced to take the helm, sometimes against their will. That’s when I’m asked to turn this process around. My role is mostly to listen, evaluates and seek the connections. Sometimes it turns out that the business can be done better, but sometimes it also changes the initially negative attitude of the targeted successor, who suddenly says, “hey, this is actually a fun club.”
What advice can you give to entrepreneurs today?
Over the years, I’ve learned to hear what other people say. If you talk too much yourself to fill the moments of silence you can make mistakes. It’s all about listening to what the other person is saying to you. Only when you do that you really can make a difference and return to the core.
Another thing I would like to say is that entrepreneurs should always try to surround themselves with the right people. Strong people who have skills you know you lack. The specialists should be cherished. We in Holland tend to focus too much on having generalists on the team, but if you compare it to professional football, it’s the art of building a team of star players. If you have just all-rounders on the pitch, it won’t get you anywhere. The striker knows how to score, only the keeper knows how to tap the ball out of the goal. All those specialists must work together with pleasure to achieve the optimal result while further refining their own specific talent. In business, that’s no different.