Kesselaar & Zn.
A special construction company
2023 – Kesselaar & Zn. is a construction company in Alkmaar, the Netherlands that builds, maintains and works sustainably in real estate in the region. There are currently approximately 50 permanent employees and there are extensive and long-term relationships with partners, subcontractors (‘co-makers’) and clients, especially from the region.
The workplace innovation
You could see the founding of this company about thirty years ago as aworkplace innovation. Unlike most construction companies, this company was based on trust in, cooperation with and equality of all employees in the company from the outset.
The goals of Kesselaar & Zn. are: creating a good process and delivering a better product. Money and growth are not paramount. ‘We also collaborate with co-makers on the basis of trust’.
The company works with a long-term perspective. By 2028, for example, the company must be even more customer-oriented and CO2 neutral.
Structure and method
Kesselaar & Zn. consists of three departments, organized by customer group and nature of the work: 1. Maintenance, 2. Major innovations and new construction projects and 3. Business Operations. Within these departments, groups operate that carry out the work, together with co-makers. The process for Maintenance is as follows: the order slip is received by the sub-department ‘work preparation’. The completed assignment is passed on to the executor.
This person mainly arranges the work and planning with the co-makers. The executive carpenter completes the assignment according to a protocol, together with the co-makers. This carpenter maintains contact with the client and/or residents and, if necessary, coaches the plumber, electrician, painter, tiler or plasterer of another contractor or self-employed person.
For new construction and projects, there is a ‘contract manager’ or project leader for each client, as well as a work planner and five in-house carpenters. They are responsible for customer satisfaction, lead time and two to three innovations.
The protocol or ‘standardized working method’ is drawn up together with the executive employees and continually improved, and data analysis is used for this improvement. Employees are encouraged to look critically at their own process and come up with ideas for improvement.
Employees are given trust and appreciation by management and colleagues. They are regularly informed about progress and results and are involved in the development of the protocols and the long-term perspective. They are listened to if they want to put forward their vision, ideas or objections.
Management is aware that it must set a good example. This creates a safe environment in which employees actually take the responsibility that suits each person’s role. There are no performance reviews, but individual progress and career perspectives are discussed. This construction company contrasts with the rest of the construction sector where short-term thinking and aiming for maximum profit are common. At Kesselaar & Zn. the ‘core values’ apply: hospitality, loyalty and innovation.
Usually the results at Kesselaar & Zn. are a good product and lower costs. Customer satisfaction is excellent. There is an annual profit in which the employees share in accordance with certain ‘rules of the game’.
The employees experience a very clear positive difference with their previous employers.
“Kesselaar & Zn. is not an average construction company, it is human and social, you are treated as a person; there are no bosses, there is no control. Here you have confidence and freedom, the lines of communication are very short. We think in solutions. It’s just a great company."
Fietje Vaas: Kesselaar & Zn. a special construction company. 2023 Leiden, TNO
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