Derk from Winschoten has been working in wood for 50 years, but has never had a splinter in his fingers

At the age of fifteen, Derk Vos came by bicycle to what was then the timber trade Teka in Winschoten. I asked if they still had work. I was able to start right away and never left.” That was fifty years ago. You rarely see them this stubborn. Then you are made of the right stuff, his colleagues believe.

It was purely coincidental that Vos knocked on the door of the timber trade. ,,I drove there with in the back of my mind: I’ll see how it ends. There was no vacancy, but I was hired within a few minutes. In the afternoon I was already in the wood. I was also surprised that it went so easily.”

Damage-free driving on the forklift

Orange flags flutter in the wind. Anyone who drives onto the site of the wood and building materials trade PontMeyer, formerly Teka, in Winschoten will see that there is something to celebrate. Even a forklift is beautifully decorated with flags. It is the forklift with which the Winschoter has covered quite a few distances. “And always damage-free,” he boasts.

In February he took another exam on the truck and with success, because he can drive the colossus until he is seventy. “But I don’t intend to. Next year I really stop.” Not that he hates his job. On the contrary. “I have always enjoyed working here. I was hardly sick for a day. That already says something. Working with people and advising them is the best part of my job.”

Vos sometimes misses the old days when it comes to the smell of wood. “Nowadays you have a lot of plastic. In the past we only had wood. Great those planks that came from Brazil. Now a lot of wood comes from Sweden. From production forests. I can see that immediately in the growth rings, which are finer and the wood is coarser, but the smell is less.”

Driving routes through Friesland without GPS and telephone

But progress also has benefits. “In the past, when I was still on the truck, I had to go to Friesland and the city of Groningen a lot. Without GPS, eh. And that about all those little roads. I had to map out the route in advance and learn it by heart. Because there was no telephone in the truck. I did have a road map. But luckily I was always on time.”

On the day of his jubilee he was ‘forbidden’ by his boss to open the gate at half past six. He wasn’t ‘welcome’ until eight o’clock. “Then a light bulb went on for me. Glad they decorated it. But tomorrow I’ll be back at half past seven. Like all those years. First a cup of coffee and then through the sheds.”

Logistics employee is called his profession nowadays. “I used to be called an employee sawmill and planer. How many planks have I had in my hands.” He looks at his sturdy fingers. “No, never had splinters in it. Question of how do I hold the planks. You learn that automatically.”