Bulk loading and unloading: the CEO explains

Bulk loading and unloading: the CEO explains

Bulk loading and unloading (from containers or trucks) is something you don’t have to teach H&L Services: for nearly two decades, this company has specialized in it. CEO – in this case short for Chief Entertainment Officer – Walter Vandeperre, explains what makes the job so enjoyable.

“In any case, it is not complex: we remove goods from containers and stack them on pallets. Or we take goods off pallets and stack them in the container. Always purely manual work. Very physical, but still everyone likes coming to work here. We don’t say that lightly: we have little or even no turnover here.”

What do you think is the main explanation for this?

“We try to make the work as pleasant as possible, first and foremost by creating all the framework conditions in the best possible way so that our employees can concentrate on the job. We also make sure that we employ people who we suspect will get along well with each other. In this amicable atmosphere, one person will more easily do something for another. We also want everyone to be happy here. Not only for their own mental well-being, but also for the productivity of our company. My roots are in the Kempen region, where they say: a smiling cow gives more milk. If you work with happy employees, chances are your customers will be happy too. And employees who enjoy their work will also be more productive.”

So what is the ideal profile of an employee at H&L Services?

“Someone who is physically fit, because as mentioned, it is manual labor. Furthermore, it must be someone who looks forward to doing something different every day: we work all over Flanders, we have a pool of 80 employees – so every day looks different. Also nice is a talent for making social contacts and adapting to different situations. Those who expect the same thing every day have little to look for with us.”

Do you also need to have a dose of independence?

“Absolutely, a large dose in fact. It’s not like you’re thrown into a pond at H&L Services and left to fend for yourself. But neither is it the case that we hold your hand from morning to night and Monday to Friday. It does expect someone to immediately take initiative and adapt to the circumstances. I’m not going to say you have to be a free agent, but it does help. In short, you have to have the mindset to grow and evolve with the company, taking into account the plights.”


“Everyone is welcome here, as long as they are social and want to work. Moreover, there are two things we don’t discuss. The first is the work itself: it is what it is, as I said at the beginning. If you don’t want to do that, you shouldn’t be here. Second, that is the wage. The wage bill is 80 to 85 percent of our costs, and that also determines our competitiveness in the marketplace. If we start giving everyone a raise tomorrow, we will price ourselves out of the market. So we are not going to negotiate that. Unless it’s that you’re such an outlier that you can manage a thirty-man crew at a moment’s notice. That said, we pay better than the market. Moreover, you can go home when the job is done: once a container is emptied or filled, we don’t expect you to stand around twiddling your fingers for several more hours. So you get a full month’s pay, even though you often don’t work a month.”