Aug. de Meyer bv
The legend of the Flying Dutchman is world-famous. Around the year 1600 Captain Willem van der Decken left the Roads of Terneuzen on its way to the Dutch Indies. Rounding the Cape of Good Hope, he was held up by continuous storms. He cursed the elements, but they in turn punished him by making him toss about on his ghost ship off the Cape; a terror to seaman for perpetuity.
The history of Aug. de Meyer & Zonen BV is not that old, but all the same connected with the port of Terneuzen and international trade for over a century.
Its activities go back as far as 1851 when Franciscus Bernardus de Meijer set himself up as a ship's agent. The venture was a success, but wound up unexpectedly when both he and his chief water clerk died from smallpox which he contracted on one of the ships they were handling.
Franciscus Bernardus de Meijer
1816 - 1858
His only son, August de Meyer, was then only two years old and the thriving business collapsed. However, young August de Meyer inherited the shipping mind of his father and when he came to age, he took up his father's ideas and obtained a license as a shipbroker and custom agent in 1879. This was the real start of Aug. de Meyer, registered for the first time as a private company the same year.
August de Meijer
1856 - 1927
The company quickly entered into related fields such as shipping, stevedoring and warehousing, sea- and river-chartering, towing, general forwarding and other activities related to shipping. August de Meyer was successful in business and at the outbreak of the first world war Terneuzen had become the third port of The Netherlands.
The war put an end to activities as the port of Terneuzen was completely lamed. But in 1918 it rose from the ashes and a new generation started with fresh ideas. In 1921 the company was registered as a limited company (NV) and the newly formed company took over all assets from the private company owned by August de Meyer (the minutes from 1921 until the 19-sixties are accessible for family members only). In the same period the owners developed other activities related to shipping. François de Meijer and his brother Gustaaf-Adolf bought a shipyard in Lekkerkerk in 1917 and produced tug boats and trawlers partly for their own account. That story is described in a seperate chapter of this site. Ludwig, another son of August, ran the forwarding and custom broker firm in Sas van Gent. The company is still operating as L. de Meijer BV and Verex Douane Service. August de Meyer died in 1927, two years before the 50th anniversary of the company.
|François de Meijer
|Henri de Meijer
The company survived the catastrophic period from 1929 to 1936 and was pushing ahead when World War II broke out. At war's end all cranes and warehouses were destroyed and the company got underway for the third time. This was a job for the fourth generation of De Meyers and the family firm of Aug. de Meyer Son's Shipping, Forwarding and Agency Company Aug. de Meijer Zonen's, Scheepvaart-, Expeditie en Agentuur Maatschappij NV), the only to have survived both wars and depression at Terneuzen harbor. The first activity was the discharging of ammunition from American Liberty ships at Terneuzen Roads for the Allied Armies preparing to free Antwerp and the northern part of Holland in the autumn of 1944.
Front window of the company's office at the Westkolkstraat, Terneuzen.
|Hubert de Meijer
1909 - 1995
|Frits de Meijer
1922 - 2005
Although shipping was the main activity of the company, overland transport to the hinterland was a major concern in the area. In the early sixties Hubert and Frits de Meyer felt that road transportation would become a major factor in the European transport system. They joined forces with a young entrepreneur, Anton Verbrugge, who had just started a trucking company and they created De Meyer-Verbrugge. Later, after a total merger of the trucking activities of both companies the name was changed to Verbrugge & de Meyer International Road Transport. The successor of that company has now, 50 years later, over a 500 trucks on the European roads.
With the arrival of major chemical and metallurgical companies in the River Scheldt basin and riding on top of the post-war economic waves, the company was facing major investments. A grain terminal (Terneuzense Graansilo Maatschappij, TGM) and a paper and forest products terminal in Terneuzen as well as a large tobacco warehousing and distribution facility in Flushing (Alleghany Warehouse Europe, AWE) were built and operated successfully. Plans for a specialized bulk terminal, for which Terneuzen harbor was strategically well situated near the hart of the industrial regions of Belgium and Northern France, were well advanced. It became quickly evident, however, that such expansions costing over 40 million guilders would be beyond the reach of the family business.
In 1968 the De Meijer family sold 50% of the shares to the ‘Stoomvaart Maatschappij Nederland’ (Netherlands Steamship Company, SMN) in Amsterdam. In 1970, after the merger of the major Dutch shipping companies 'Vereenigde Nederlandsche Scheepvaartmaatschappij' (VNS), The Hague, 'Koninklijke Rotterdamsche Lloyd' (KRL, Ruys), Rotterdam, SMN and KJCPL into ‘Nederlandsche Scheepvaart Unie’ (NSU) those shares came in hands of the Ruys Transport Group in which the land based activities, such as stevedoring and road hauling, of the NSU were concentrated. In 1977 the name of the NSU changed to Nedlloyd. The participation in Verbrugge & De Meijer, the trucking company was part of the deal with NSU, who became thus 25% owner of the trucking business. On February 23, 1973 the De Meijer sold their remaining shares to the Ruys Transport Group, from that moment owner of 100% of Aug. de Meyer bv and of 50% of Verbrugge & De Meijer. As part of the worldwide operating Nedlloyd Group, Aug. de Meyer bv continued to flourish as a regional stevedoring and transportation company.
Nedlloyd and Verbrugge
Only some 15 years later Nedlloyd lost interest in the harbour and land transportation business. In January 1988 Verbrugge acquired 50% of the shares and the name changed to Verbrugge De Meyer.
On 2 November 1991 it was announced that Nedlloyd wanted to sell its 50% share in Verbrugge De Meyer to the co-shareholders Anton Verbrugge and his son Martin. In 1990 the company employed 950 people and had a turnover of 250.000.000 guilders growing in 1992 to 300.000.000 guilders.
Nedlloyd wil belang kwijt in Verbrugge De Meyer
02 november 1991
ROTTERDAM/TERNEUZEN - Het Rotterdamse transportconcern Nedlloyd wil zijn belang van 50 procent in Verbrugge de Meyer te Terneuzen verkopen aan de mede-aandeelhouders, A. Verbrugge en drs M. Verbrugge, die tevens de directie van het bedrijf voeren. Dat hebben Nedlloyd en Verbrugge de Meyer vrijdag in een gezamenlijk persbericht bekendgemaak.
De management buy-out zal in contanten worden voldaan. Hoeveel Nedlloyd voor zijn belang heeft ontvangen, blijft geheim. Verbrugge de Meyer is een houdstermaatschappij van bedrijven, die zich richten op de overslag van voornamelijk cellulose en papier, transport van bulkgoederen en op industriele reiniging en afvalverwerking. Deze activiteiten behoren niet tot de kernactiviteiten van Nedlloyd.
Verbrugge de Meyer heeft 950 medewerkers en behaalde in 1990 een omzet van 250 miljoen gulden. Dit jaar rekent directeur drs. M. Verbrugge op een omzet van fl 250 a fl 300 miljoen en een bevredigende winst. M. Verbrugge, de zoon van mededirecteur A. Verbrugge, blikt met weemoed terug op de samenwerking, die in totaal 23 jaar heeft geduurd. Verbrugge-De Meyer kwam enige jaren geleden tot stand door de fusie van Nedlloyd-dochter August de Meyer met zijn huisvervoerder Verbrugge.
source: Transport NT website
In 1996 'Delta Nutsbedrijven', the Energy provider in the province of Zeeland, took a minority share in the company in order to facilitate expansion and the acquisition of the NV Haven van Vlissingen (Harbour of Flushing) owned by the Municipaility of Flushing, which in 2000 was fully integrated in the company Verbrugge Terminals, subsidiary of Verbrugge International BV. The former trucking company is known as Verbrugge Internationale Wegtransporten BV.
In November 2013 'iCon Infrastructure LLP', a UK based investment firm, became minority shareholder for 32%, the remaining of the shares staying in hands of Martin J. Verbrugge, CEO of the company. Near the end of 2013 Verbrugge announced the creation of a terminal in Zeebrugge, Belgium, for which the ground breaking ceremony took place in January 2014, shortly after the founder of the Verbrugge company, Anton J. Verbrugge had died (19-12-2013).