Interview with Hennie Pieterse – Ottevanger’s people
Hennie Pieterse – Ottevanger Brisbane (QLD), Australia
‘’I am the daily face, ears and eyes of Ottevanger in Australia and New Zealand’’
Brisbane – Australia
Can you introduce yourself?
Hello, my name is Hennie Pieterse and I’m “approximately” 55 years old. I’m married and I have four kids. We live in Brisbane, Australia, from where I take care of Ottevanger Milling Engineers business in Australia and New Zealand. Before permanently settling in Brisbane, I lived in many places around the world, such as Ukraine, South Africa, Iowa (USA) and New Zealand. Throughout my career I worked and visited customers in more than 50 countries world-wide.
For how long have you been working at Ottevanger?
I know Ottevanger for many years since my days as Marketing Manager for an Extruder Manufacturer in New Zealand. I started working directly with Ottevanger on the MIRATORG Project in Russia. We started talking about working together and that’s how I became involved with the company. I’m officially with Ottevanger since 2012.
What are your tasks and responsibilities?
My main task is to help Ottevanger successfully establish itself in Australia and New Zealand. In general, it is quite hard for foreign companies to succeed on Australian soil. This is a direct result of the very strict Health & Safety Regulations and Design, Manufacturing and Construction Codes that prevail in Australia and New Zealand. It took us several years to build trust and credibility with the local market, confirming that we know how to successfully operate down-under. We formed relationships with local Manufacturers, Fabricators, Service Providers and Project Delivery Companies allowing us to work in multi-disciplinary Teams delivering Projects small and large. During this period of establishing ourselves, the industry became aware of our exceptional quality in terms of Equipment and Services provided and our Feed Milling Engineering experience and expertise that stretch more than a century.
My main task is to be the daily face, ears and eyes of Ottevanger Milling Engineers on the ground. In this effort, specific customer requirements and industry trends are continuously studied. I link on a daily basis with our Head Office in The Netherlands working on specific projects and customer enquiries. At the same time we are continuously considering our Business Strategy in Australia and New Zealand, making sure we develop the best solutions for our existing and new customers.
During my first contact with customers I am involved in technology transfer, conceptual design of processes and layout options on-site. Once we have determined a Customer’s basic project scope, I would start working with our Head Office developing a Process Flow Design and Cost Estimation to match. From here we may spend a few iterations refining the proposed solution before progressing to Concept Design; Contractual Agreements; Engineering Design; Process Specification and Pricing. We then go through the normal progression of Equipment Manufacturing; Shipping; Installation on-site and Commissioning and Training of the customer’s personnel.
I am also involved with promotional efforts such as arranging Trade Fair Participation; presenting papers at conferences and seminars, and writing articles and posts.
What does a working day normally look like?
My days are never the same. Because of the time differences with other parts of the world, I always have “out-of-the-normal” working hours. I mostly start early in the morning having contact with customers from New Zealand and end my day late in order to connect with Colleagues in The Netherlands. My days consists of many meetings, mostly online. These online meetings, especially with the current situation, take up a very large part of my day. A nice example of what you can achieve solely online, is the George Weston Project we are currently constructing in Perth, Western Australia. The only option we had was to establish a Multi-Disciplinary Delivery Team working solely via an Online Meeting Platform from conception of the Project right through to Shipping of equipment from the Netherlands. The same approach applies for Site Meetings while the Project is under construction. This is a great achievement for us as a European Company. The only personnel we physically have on-site is our Site Manager during construction, and Commissioning and Start-up personnel during conclusion of the Project.
What do you like so much about your job?
I am one of those characters who finds a normal nine-to-five job boring. I like continuous challenges which is exactly what my current role provides. No two projects are the same and my tasks require me to have many different skillsets. A nice addition is the market we’re in. I love working in the food and feed markets, as it gives real-life sense to my everyday activities. People and animals have to eat. It is not a ‘want product’, but a ‘need product’. Without food, there is no life. I like the challenge of providing Feed and Food manufacturing solutions that add to people’s quality of life; health and well-being.
Do you have anything left to say to all the readers?
We stand in that line of scientists, engineers, nutritionists and feed manufacturers producing the highest quality meat, fish, eggs and milk at the lowest cost per kilogram, while striving to optimise animal welfare and health at the lowest carbon footprint possible. I see myself not as a Salesman, but as my customers’ industry partner – not only providing the initial solution and equipment, but being there for them going into the future, ensuring they are always at the cutting edge of Technology and Feed Manufacturing capability.
This is very satisfying and makes me proud!