Dutch equipment hire company Van Werven, Oldebroek, The Netherlands, recently brought back to life Volvo Construction Equipment’s oldest wheel loader, the H10, to celebrate its 65th anniversary.
The antique Volvo H10 loader was the first machine ever purchased by Van Werven, which was founded in 1945. But when the workshop caught fire a week before the company’s 65th anniversary, it looked as though the celebration might have to be called off. The H10 wheel loader was inside the burned workshop, where seven retired engineers had been working for 20 weeks to renovate the machine in time for the party.
Luckily, the H10 survived the fire without a scratch. The engineers needed only to clean it to remove the ash residue from the fire.
Van Werven has grown from a one-man venture to a thriving franchise. The late W.J. van Werven started the business to trade in agricultural machinery and materials. In 1969, Van Werven bought the company’s first loader from Volvo Construction Equipment — then called Bolinder Munktell. The Volvo H10 was an innovative back-end loader, based on a tractor design with a loader unit over the bigger wheels. The new design created possibilities for heavier loads and higher breakout forces and it paved the way for future wheel loader designs. The purchase formed a relationship with Volvo that has lasted ever since.
Today, Van Werven has 45 Volvo wheel loaders, 19 Volvo crawler excavators and Volvo wheeled excavators, and two Volvo articulated haulers supplied by Kuiken, Volvo’s dealer in the Netherlands. Kuiken supplied Van Werven with the old H10 for renovation.
“The business partnership between Kuiken and Van Werven is one that we are very proud of,” said Jelle Bosscha from Kuiken. “I look to the future with great confidence that we will be able to continue this relationship for the next six decades.”
Van Werven provides equipment rental for infrastructure projects and also operates in two other divisions: waste collection and recycling. The company has expanded by acquisition from 75 employees to 250 and has six offices and remains a family business. The late W.J. van Werven’s three sons, Hendrik, Gerrit and Jan joined the company in 1977. Today, only Jan still works for the company (alongside Hendrik’s three sons, Wilfred, Herbert and Cor) and he was managing director until Ton van der Giessen took over in January 2011. Jan was heavily involved in the H10 restoration project and the keys to the machine were presented to him at the anniversary party.
“It is a real achievement for us to celebrate 65 years in business and we couldn’t have done it without all the hard work from our employees,” said Jan van Werven. “Van Werven’s management team truly appreciates everyone’s efforts in making the celebrations possible, particularly the efforts of our previous employees in renovating the H10. It shows that they still have a connection with the company.”
More than 6,000 visitors came to the head office to celebrate with Van Werven, including local press, customers, company employees and their families and children.
“Before the H10 was stripped, it still ran like a well-oiled machine, but it didn’t look like one,” said ex-engineer Jan Sijtsma. “So, our task was to make it look beautiful and I took great pleasure in doing that together with six old-colleagues. We were very lucky that the H10 wasn’t completely destroyed in the fire. It was so satisfying to see the final result. It was a real eye-catcher at the anniversary celebration!”
As a reward for their hard work, the seven engineers and their families will be flown to Sweden for three days courtesy of Van Werven and Kuiken.