Henk Smit is in a good mood; today is his birthday. He was spoilt earlier with gifts and he treated everyone at all branches of his family business to ice cream. It is 5 May and Henk Smit, owner of Kees Smit Tuinmeubelen, is celebrating his birthday today. The day has started well, as he was spoilt with gifts. He does a tour of all the branches of his family business to treat the employees with ice cream. After the colleagues at the last branch thank him for the treat, Henk gets into his car to drive home with colleague Mitchel to continue his birthday celebrations with his family.
Shortly after arriving home, he receives a phone call. There appears to be a fire in his office in Vroomshoop in Overijssel. With lightning speed, he dashed back to his car and drove with Mitchel to the municipality of Twenterand. Soon they see thick clouds of smoke looming. Mitchel urges Henk to calm down when he tries to frantically overtake fire engines.
The fire becomes visible, the building is ablaze and when they get out, they can feel the heat. Suddenly, what was supposed to be a fun day has turned into a real nightmare.
A day that starts with ice cream, ends in fire. You couldn’t think of a starker contrast. This story of ice and fire is reminiscent of the thrilling novel series “A Song of Ice and Fire” on which the famous series Game of Thrones is based. However, George Martin’s story is fantasy; what Henk and his colleagues experience is harsh reality.
On the way to the fire, Henk’s mind is filled with dread. Most importantly: are all employees unharmed, are there no injuries. He feels relieved the moment he sees all his people outside the building. And when he hears everyone is safe, a huge weight is lifted from his shoulders.
The good news does not mean that the emotional rollercoaster he is on is over. Of course not; it is a lot to process, positive and… not so positive. What are the consequences of this fire for customers? For the company? For the staff?
News travels fast and they are overwhelmed with heart-warming messages. Henk is offered advice left right and centre. Do this, do that, watch out for this and especially watch out for that. Henk is surprised that people seem to have a particularly negative opinion of insurers. Even though he knows that his company has excellent trade loss insurance, which also covers consequential damage for a long time, all these “beware of insurers” messages still cause anxiety.
Throughout the entire process after the fire, however, at Kees Smit Tuinmeubelen they never felt it was US against THEM. There was always mutual respect. The continuous contact with Lengkeek, for instance, is more than perfect. He never felt he was on his own. For Lengkeek and all other parties involved, and being realistic was a priority for everyone.
What Henk is very happy about and what absolutely helped with effective resolution after the fire is the fact that Henk’s family business has been completely data-driven for years. The advice he therefore gives everyone: make sure you can always substantiate everything, prove everything. With clear numbers, because… numbers don’t lie!
Throughout the complete handling of the incident, Henk always felt a sense of collaboration. All parties saw “our fire” and “our damage” as a common problem.