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Like no one else salesmanager Erik Daniel van Leeuwen knows how to do business with patience. Grown up in the world of hospitality a good relationship with his customers was all that mattered. You wanted them to come back of course. In Spain doing business also happens ‘tranquilo.’ “Business contact with the Spanish is always a social event. That’s the key to succes.”
As his name suggests, Erik is originally from The Netherlands. But most of his business he did in Spain where he ended up twenty years ago. “Together with my brother I started the a place called Nakupenda, Amarre 69 and Rembrandt Café (Port Olympic), a Dutch concept with kroketten and frikandellen. This became a huge success until COVID hit and we were forced to sell our places.” Just before COVID he also started a plant-based vegan restaurant with his wife. “It’s a unique concept that Barcelona hadn’t seen before. Restaurant Roots & Rolls is doing great at the moment,” Erik states proudly.
But the challenge to do something totally different was given by Kooi Camera Surveillance. The fast growing company in mobile camera surveillance and heat detection, was looking for opportunities to conquer the Spanish market. Construction sites and fields with wind turbines in Spain are now secured by man guard. This is no longer enough. Erik: “There’s still a lot of misplaced trust in the man with the dog. Things are being stolen on every site on a daily basis.” So Erik and his counterpart Sebastián Viola have to put Kooi on the map and inform people about the solutions the cameras of Kooi, called UFO’s (Unit For Observation), have to offer. Erik: “In Spain it’s the most revolutionary security-method in this area. We have to explain that the camera is always there and never lies. And we act adequately as soon as something happens. These features will never be united in a single man guard.”
Do the Dutch and Spanish national character go together in business? “Well, doing business with Spanish is always a social event. It takes time. You have to keep calm, that’s the key to success,” Erik analyzes. “I think I have the quality that can come out handy in this part of Europe. My experience in hospitality and my network is very important even though I am working in a totally different branch.” Erik sees important differences in decision making between Holland and Spain. “Here decisions are made more hierarchic. So you have to make sure you enter on the right level of the company to do your business. Actually there are a lot of parallels with the French. It all happens in the relational sphere.”
The two adventurers Erik and Sebastián have strictly separated their areas of operation. Erik focusses on construction and infra projects while his counterpart is responsible for the clients in wind projects. Dutch colleague Almar Kleefstra will focus on the Spanish solar fields. When companies are interested in the UFO’s of Kooi they are free to get in contact with Eric. “I come over to get to know each other and listen to their needs. My goal is to visit a lot of companies and organizations to tell them about the solutions we have to offer.”