On 21 September this year, Jan Haenraets will retire after 43 years of working at Fancom. Jan has been part of the Fancom team right from the very beginning and has worked with dedication and immense commitment to provide technical support to our customers.
Jan can reflect on a valued career during which the main focus was on knowledge transfer. Jan has helped to spread and share all our expertise and knowledge of automated processes for livestock houses to all corners of the globe. No matter what the destination, he was welcomed with open arms. After all, he was there to help improve other people's knowledge and skills. Whether he was on a troubleshooting mission or to get an installation up and running, Jan always made sure that the people on site learned something. And that is what made him a welcome guest worldwide.
More than 6500 hours of flight time
We are pretty sure that of all our employees, Jan has clocked up the most time travelling. In fact, as he has kept the records, he can confirm that! “If I add up all my flight time I have probably spent at least 6500 hours sitting in a plane. That's more than 280 whole days! I have travelled a distance of more than five million kilometres. So I have circumnavigated the earth more than 130 times and visited 86 countries. Of my life until now, more than seven years have been spent abroad. That wasn't always easy for my family, especially when the children were still small. But I loved my travels."
Friends for life
When you spend so much time on the move, you have some fabulous experiences and make friends around the world. Jan could write a book about his travels. But after some thought he shares a few unforgettable memories.
“One of my first trips was to Syros, a Greek island near Mykonos, to commission a VTC installation. The first stage of the journey, the flight to Athens, was uneventful. But then I had to get a taxi to the harbour to catch the ferry to Syros. No one spoke English and I couldn't read the Greek signs. When I finally arrived at the harbour, it got worse - there must have been 25 ferries all leaving for somewhere. Just try and find the right one! After some rather confusing instructions in Greek I boarded one of the boats and crossed my fingers I would arrive in Syros five hours later. The weather in normally sunny Greece had taken a turn for the worst and the ferry was pummelled by heavy waves. After an anxious and very rough crossing we docked in Syros where the whole Dalesios family was waiting for me. I was warmly welcomed and as a Dutch guest I was completely spoiled while I got the installation in working order. I have returned several times over the years to help install expansions to the project and that warm welcome is always the same. And now I know how to get there!"
Earth shaking experience in Japan
Travelling so extensively also entails coming into contact with diverse cultures. Jan adapts effortlessly each time to the local customs. But travelling is not always a risk-free undertaking.
“I have been to Japan about 30 times, a wonderful country with a completely different culture than we are used to. The Japanese are perfectionists, so everything they do is checked at least twice. And that is something you have to take into account. They also carefully check the instructions I give. If you take back - or change – something you have explained afterwards because things work differently in practice, it's very difficult for that to be accepted there. But there is another reason why one of the trips to the northern island of Sapporo (also a beer brand) is such a memorable one. We had started up the equipment in a number of houses for layers and a rearing house. I was busy installing the F-Central management software on the PC. All day I had the feeling that the ground under my feet was moving. I started to question my sanity - I really hadn't touched a drop of alcohol.... But once we were busy in the office the earth really started shaking. The people in the office were not bothered at all. Instead of leaving the building they just grabbed any objects that might fall over and simply got on with their work. That night the sound of the doors banging woke me up. My interpreter, Mr Kubo, phoned to warn me that this was an earthquake but he assured me it would pass. And sure enough, the next day we completed the installation as planned.”
Extremes in Siberia
On the pretext of: ‘Try before you die’ Jan always tries to explore the local customs and habits during his travels. That can sometimes lead to surprising situations, as this tale from Siberia illustrates.
“I was in Siberia, in Irkutsk and Novosibirsk, to start up an installation and give user training and was invited to visit the sauna after work. The car that picked me up was piled full of Russian men. As it's so cold there, that wasn't a bad thing. The sauna was hidden deep in the forest, a concrete hut, surrounded by deep snow with a concrete stove in the middle. Beer was regularly poured over the hot stones around the fire which gave the steam a pleasant smell. We had to beat each other with birch branches to improve our circulation. When the heat was too much to take, you could escape outside into the snow at a temperature of -20 degrees Celsius and take a dip in the lake. Afterwards I found out that the lake was more than 1 kilometre deep. The day after we finished the installation and I flew back to the Netherlands. It was a very special experience.”
These are just three examples of the countless amazing experiences Jan has had during his many trips. All treasured memories he'll never forget. “I am so happy that I could teach so many people to use our equipment on their farms to improve the performance of their animals and contribute to their own, professional success," Jan concludes his story.
We are sad to say farewell to our colleague Jan Haenraets. We will intensely miss his expertise and collegiality. Jan has plenty of days holiday left, so he will start enjoying his well-deserved retirement from 1 June - spending time time with his family, children and soon his first grandchild.
Thank you Jan for your many years of commitment to us and our customers!