When the first beats of Caribbean rhythms strike up anywhere, Dries van der Meer is totally in his element. Regardless of whether it's salsa, samba or merengue, Latin American music and its dances are full of energy and vitality – just like the Dutchman himself, who was born in Schiedam.
On many trips to the Caribbean, above all to the island of Curaçao, Dries van der Meer has got to know the country and people and has become infected by their energy. Van der Meer loves the Caribbean island, which also belongs to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, because of its culture, the way of life and its excellent cuisine.
It is a special mixture of new inspiration and stability which characterises van der Meer. With great energy and passion, the 64-year-old has now been working for ista for 45 years and is therefore our longest-serving employee. Becoming team leader at 32, he also injects his positive and optimistic attitude into his working day. The likeable Dutchman says of himself: “I am reliable, social-minded, open and honest. The only thing that sometimes annoys people: I often think so fast that others find it difficult to follow me.” He laughs.
From dish washer to heating cost billing
Van der Meer has very clear memories of his first day at ista – then still Technische handelsmaatschappij Warmtemeter BV: “It was April 1, 1972 and I had no work experience apart from a holiday job as a dish washer,” he says, looking back with a twinkle in his eye.
“It was April 1, 1972 and I had no work experience apart from a holiday job as a dish washer.”
The apprenticeship in customer service was therefore a welcome challenge for the then only 18-year-old newcomer. His daily tasks at ista included preparing heating cost bills and calculating the hot water consumption. When heating cost billing was automated, van der Meer was made deputy team leader of Production Group 4 – alongside his brother Jan, who was appointed team leader.
Success in career and private life
After some years as Head of the Billing Centre, he initiated the merger of the Operations and Billing departments, headed the new department and, after a successful reorganisation, again took over the position of team leader before joining the Billing & Services department in 2014.
“I am very attached to ista because I owe so much to the company. Not just on a professional level,” Dries van der Meer explains and his eyes begin to shine.
After all, it is not just his brother who also works for ista: he also met his wife at the company. In 1991, when she was working in another production group. He proposed to her just two years later and today they are proud parents of a now 22-year-old daughter.
Dries van der Meer
45 years of experience in heating cost billing, a career in the service of ista and a close attachment to the company. After an apprenticeship in customer service and his first position as a supervisor, Dries van der Meer took charge of the billing centre and reorganised the Operations and Billing departments.
2017 is a very special year for the von der Meer for several reasons: “Our 25th wedding anniversary is in August and our daughter will also be finishing her studies,” he proudly explains. “And then of course there’s my special long-service anniversary which we celebrated just a few weeks ago.”
“I am very attached to ista because I owe so much to the company. Not just on a professional level.”
A real reason to celebrate
Today, van der Meer looks back on 45 successful years at ista – years in which he not only reached some milestones but also experienced true solidarity among colleagues and employees. So it’s no wonder that his colleagues took the “big anniversary” as a chance to get out old photos, recall anecdotes and throw a proper big party for him. As usual, he is completely relaxed about his remaining time at ista: “ista will still have me until the end of 2019 and, even after so many years, I am still looking forward to the challenges ahead.”
Will he be bored in retirement? Fun-loving van der Meer doesn’t worry one little bit about that: “ista is part of my life but I have enough plans for the time after. I myself have often been to Curaçao but I am dreaming of showing my wife and daughter the island and introducing my friends there to them.”