Many people would think twice about taking over a large business at the age of 62. Not Frans de Graaff. He has been working at the Dutch company, RTR Koeltrailer Rentals since 2000. He recently got the opportunity to take over the remainder of the majority shareholder's shares.
With sons, Christian and Wilbert, the three are now at the helm of this refrigerated trailer rental company. Christian has been working at RTR since 2014. Wilbert joined the company in 2017. He made the move from the retail sector.
This passion for the transport world is not something that just fell out of the sky. Frans' grandmother had a transport company. His father was also active in the bodywork and trailer construction world his whole life.
It might seem a big leap from retail to trailers. However, according to Wilbert, there are plenty of similarities. "I have learned a lot when it comes to organization and purchasing and sales. I can now use this at RTR", he says.
"I am really enjoying myself. I should have made the move far earlier. I have worked at all levels of the company in recent months. Our task division is slowly, but surely, becoming clear. Currently, I am keeping myself busy with purchasing and organization. This, while my brother focuses more on sales and operational matters," continues Wilbert.
Clients, mostly transporters, can rent refrigerated trailers from RTR. These can be on short as well as long-term terms. "This truly varies from one day's rental to structural rentals. We even brand some trailers with the clients' logos", explains Wilbert.
According to him, the advantages of renting a trailer are apparent. "Our clients do not have to have the big investment of a refrigerated trailer. We completely unburden them of, among other things, trailer maintenance. We also provide modern, up-to-date equipment."
"Our clients take the trailers along throughout Europe and Northern Africa. Each trailer has a refrigeration unit that can warm the trailer up to 28 degrees. It can also cool it down to -28 degrees", he says.
In particular, fresh fruit and vegetable and plant transport companies also come knocking on RTR's door. They know this company, based in the Dutch town of Barendrecht, will meet their needs well. "We have had an excellent year. We rented more trailers to existing clients and also gained a few new clients", says Wilbert.
"We now have a fleet of 520 trailers. We are planning to also expand in 2019." Certain circumstances may cause this growth to gain momentum. "We have been following the Brexit voting with interest. We have quite a few clients that are active in the United Kingdom.
"For this reason, we also offer special UK ferry trailers. We anticipate that, due to all the formalities, more equipment might be needed for the unaccompanied ferry traffic", he goes on to say.
Another challenge is making their fleet sustainable. "We are following the developments in this area. We also continue to respond to the ever-changing requirements and regulations. From 2025, diesel freight trucks will be banned in the inner cities. We are looking for alternatives. We are also involved in various pilot projects. We keep investing in the fleet using the most modern technologies."
Wilbert is confident about this family business' future. "Besides our branch in Barendrecht, we have also had a Belgian branch since 1988. This is located in the Antwerp Port area. We also serve clients outside of the Benelux region. We are hoping to continue with steady, controlled growth in the coming years."
"It is a good thing that our lines are short here. Our team is made up of ten staff members. So, for example, when the phone rings, everyone recognizes the caller. Most of the staff have been with us for a long time. We like to apply this wealth of knowledge to help our clients", he concludes.