At the helm of De Rooy: in conversation with Gerard de Rooy

Growing up among trucks and lorries, taking over a family business that has been around for almost a hundred years, and winning the Dakar Rally not once, but twice. That can only be about one person: Gerard de Rooy. Since 2010, he and his sister Anneke have been at the helm of De Rooy. However, his connection with the business park in Son started long before that. We spoke with him about his youth, his leadership, and the evolving transport industry.

Growing up in a family business

Gerard’s grandfather founded De Rooy in 1923, and both his father and uncles have always been involved in the family business. What is it like growing up in such an environment? Gerard explains, “I was born in the company house on our site in Son and lived there for another 35 years. I found it fantastic; the industrial estate of one hundred thousand square meters was one big playground for me. My sisters had a different experience, but my passion for the transport world developed at a very early age. I see the same happening with my eight-year-old son. He is having a great time at our workplace.”

Following in the family’s footsteps

Right after finishing school, Gerard joined his father, uncle, and grandfather in 1996. “I’ve never had another job, and I didn’t want one. As a little boy, I witnessed what my father did at De Rooy and in the Dakar Rally. I wanted to be a part of that too, so I never hesitated for a day. For nearly 25 years, I have enjoyed going to work every day. The transport world is constantly evolving, and no two days are the same.”

Third generation of De Rooy

Gerard and his sister now represent the third generation in the company. “Almost a hundred years ago, my grandfather started a small transport company. During the war, a large part of it was confiscated, and he had to slowly rebuild everything from scratch. Eventually, in the 1960s, my father and uncles joined the company, and De Rooy experienced rapid growth, expanding from regional operations to international partnerships. It’s truly special to follow in my family’s footsteps.”

A team of specialists

Much has changed in the past century, including Gerard’s role as a leader. “In the past, my father handled most tasks on his own and had knowledge in various areas. Nowadays, with the complexity of laws and regulations, it’s nearly impossible for one person to possess all that knowledge. That’s why we have assembled a team of specialists who take care of different areas. I manage this team and determine our course of action in case of problems or exceptional situations, such as the war in Ukraine.”

Creating a pleasant working environment

The transportation industry has undergone significant changes. “In the past, a driver would call after six days to report an empty truck in Spain. Now, we can track a delivery down to the minute. The market has become faster, more digital, and constantly evolving. This necessitates a different management style and personnel policies. Nowadays, we place even more emphasis on creating a pleasant working environment. We provide training opportunities and organize staff days. After almost twenty years, the building in Son has also been renovated into a brand-new office, ensuring that everyone has a comfortable place to work.”

A specialized industry

De Rooy stands apart, but what truly characterizes the company and its employees? “You can’t compare us to other transportation companies. Our work is a unique kind of sport, where everything moves at a faster pace. Our team works hard, values directness, and maintains honesty. It’s a place where you can freely express disagreement. I take pride in our team and the quality of work we deliver. For instance, we build all our trucks in-house and constantly strive for innovation. That’s what makes us truly special.”

De Rooy and the Dakar Rally

In addition to his work at De Rooy in Son, Gerard is actively involved in the Dakar Rally and the Dakar team, De Rooy. “I’ve been a part of this for twenty years, so it’s ingrained in my life. It’s a wonderful sport that requires optimal teamwork with the right people and top-notch equipment. Every day is an adventure, and no two days are the same. It may be a completely different world from Son, but the core principles remain the same.”

Dakar winner 2012 and 2016

“In 2019, I participated in my final Dakar Rally. Before that, I won it not once, but twice already. Now, I have more of a managerial role. I train drivers to improve their skills, and I am responsible for sponsorships. Do I miss driving? Not really. Winning takes a toll on you physically. I’ve broken my back twice during the race. I can still do everything, but I want to be able to enjoy this hobby with my children later on. So, it’s a conscious choice. I still ride regularly during training sessions, and I genuinely enjoy what I do now.”


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