The first time young Dutch grocer Klaas de Boer catered an outdoor event, he was rained out. But the second time, he was prepared. As the rain poured down, he threw up a makeshift tent. He kept that tent for his next catering event.
That was in 1924. From those humble beginnings, the company De Boer Tenten was born.
Today, another Klaas de Boer-the founder's grandson-spearheads the family business. The Netherlands-based company now boasts more than 400 employees and branches in Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, where one of Klaas de Boer's four daughters, Irene, is in charge of the Atlanta office.
Klaas De Boer is especially excited about the Atlanta facility, born in 1996 when the company built the hospitality village for the Olympic Games. "We are market leaders in Europe," he says, "and there is the potential for us to become market leaders in America."
As chairman of De Boer Structures, Klaas de Boer is constantly on the move with frequent visits to America, Australia, Singapore-anywhere an opportunity to expand the business presents itself. Each week, he visits one of the international offices to attend management meetings. "I fly many more miles than I drive," he says.
So, what would his grandfather have made of it all? De Boer reflects: "I think he would be surprised and very, very proud. But we have not achieved this position on our own. We have the support of an excellent team and excellent designers."