Former VDL CEO Wim van der Leegte (76) has died suddenly

Wim van der Leegte in 2016 bij zijn afscheid van VDL Groep

Former VDL CEO Wim van der Leegte died in his hometown of Duizel on the night of Saturday to Sunday. His death was unexpected. The businessman and founder of VDL Group was 76 years old.

A natural businessman with a heavy dose of common sense and social talent. This characterization is reflected in every interview and description of Wim van der Leegte. His company’s acquisitions were characterized by simple but unprecedentedly creative solutions, which he came up with on a few A4 pages.

He allowed employees to participate in weekly company meetings and the Brabant-dialected conversations he had on the “work floor” were legendary. He found interaction with his employees important and expressed it this way: “The way you deal with employees determines how you go on in life.”

Due to his father’s failing health, Wim was put in charge of the metal and construction company his father had established at the age of nineteen. He started there as a mechanical engineering trainee at Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, a course he did not complete until 38 years later, in 2004.

DAF bus company goes bankrupt
The metal company P. van der Leegte had 30 employees at the time and was not profitable at all. Wim is committed to growth, including through the acquisition of other companies. The bankrupt bus company DAF makes a fresh start under the VDL flag and gives Wim an entry into the world of buses. He later added two more bus companies.

The most notable acquisition is the 2012 takeover of the NedCar car factory in Bourne. Wim uses his network to arrange temporary unemployment benefits for employees and works out working conditions with FNV during an interview at his farm in Hoogeloon.

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When Wim transferred the management of the VDL Group to his son Willem in 2016, the company had 14,000 employees and a turnover of more than three billion euros. More than 16,000 people now work at VDL. After his departure, profits amounted to more than 150 million euros. The VDL Group then had nearly a hundred operating companies spread across 19 countries.

For his services to the Dutch manufacturing sector, Wim van der Ligt was appointed Commander of the Order of Orange-Nassau in 2014.

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