The stories of Fleur and Tim, trainees at Van Hessen

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Fleur and Tim: It has been over a year now since we started our traineeships at Van Hessen. And it has been challenging! In this year we have visited places we never thought we would ever see. We have been travelling from gutrooms in Germany, Norway, the UK, Australia and New-Zealand to selection factories in China and Morocco and sausage makers in Austria. And that’s just a small number of the places we have been, all to learn about our product and business, and to develop our personal skills.

Tim: During my trips to Norway and England, where I visited gutrooms and cleaning factories, I felt like I am really starting to learn more and more about sausage casings. I am starting to see the small differences between raw material from different parts of the world and it is fun to be able to see all the different characteristics! It is great to discover that every casing is different and unique. This is the reason why it is so difficult but lots of fun to think about plans and ideas to create value and a higher yield.

Fleur: The months of January and February 2017 were all about my trip Down Under, where I mainly focused on cleaning sheep casings from Australia and New-Zealand and visiting gutrooms and key players in our market. It was exciting to see the clear differences in operational processes between Europe on the one hand and Australia/ New-Zealand on the other. Besides the operational part, I was also able to learn a lot about the relationship between the intestines and the animal. During every visit, we tried to have a look at the animals and to analyze what their race is, how big/old the animals are and in what kind of shape they are. It has given me a better insight into the relationship between race, food, climate and casings.

Besides working during the week, I was able to explore parts of the countries in the weekends. In Australia, several ladies from the factory took me to a winetasting near the city of Wangaratta. My time off in New-Zealand offered me the opportunity to visit places close to the beautiful southern coastline.

Tim: After spending a few weeks at our head office in Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel, it was time to get back on the road again. This time I packed my bags to go to Hungary to support our Gutroom management with the built up of our new Gutroom over there. What an amazing experience! Two weeks of hard work, solving minor issues, creating systems, educating people and most of all; learning a lot myself. It was incredibly instructive to see what has to be done with the start-up of a new Gutroom. I would love to go back there once we are in full running.

Just returning from Hungary, I was able to quickly wash some clothes and pack my bag for my fifth visit to Van Hessen Trading in Shanghai. This time, I tried to pick up the art of sorting lamb casings. Such beautiful products are made over there; beautiful length of raw materials, good cleaning performance by our colleagues in Australia, wonderful color and pretty and wide calibers. While writing this, I’m already looking forward to my next trip to our office in Chicago next month, where I will be visiting suppliers and customers. Following that, I will return to China to compare our products.

Fleur: During each project, the main focus is always on the casings, which in essence is the same, yet the variety is high. I never imagined that the age, origin, weight, gender, way of slaughtering, salting, packing and many other factors could influences the product so much.

Seeing, feeling and smelling runners from all over the world and aiming to understand the link to the different selection styles has been of great importance the last few months. Working in the workshops in China and Morocco showed me the complexity and the high mount of variables that constantly need to be balanced. Finding and foremost understanding this balance makes my traineeship challenging and fun!

I am looking forward to the rest of my traineeship, to learn much more about the different products and processes within the group, as I have only seen a small piece of the pie yet.

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