The pictures on this page are reproductions of old photographs, reproduced by photographing them with a Sony Mavica® FD-71 digital camera.

This page is about the Company

W. Hasekamp & Co

and its founder Willem Joseph Hasekamp.

(Although the pictures on this page can be enlarged, please note that they are reproductions of very old photographs, and that the quality may sometimes disappoint)

Willem Joseph Hasekamp

Early History

My grandfather (Willem Joseph Hasekamp) had traveled quite a lot in Africa (some sources state that he participated in one of the Stanley expeditions) when he found that there was a large market for spirits there, but all the spirits available then were imported from Germany, and -according to his opinion- inferior in quality.
When he returned to the Netherlands, he decided to start his own business to win this vaste African market with a better product.

In 1901 he founded the Company W. Hasekamp & Co and started to produce several kinds of alcoholics, but in the first place the genuine Dutch Genever, made out of "Malt Wine".
This was a product, different from the products he had found in Africa. They had been manufactured out of potatoes instead of the grain-based Malt Wine.
A "quality label" and at the same time a "Certificate of Origin" had been introduced by the Municipal Authorities of Schiedam recently (the picture is of a label from 1902; my apologies for the bad quality), which was good news to my Grandfather, who only wanted to produce the best quality of Malt Wine Genever:

Quality label for Genever

The Company was based in Schiedam, where many Genever factories had been settled in the past, but where the production of spirits out of Malt Wine was decreasing: In 1880 there were 440 of these industries, but in 1897 only 177 of them were left over and in 1922 only 7 (seven!) had survived! One of these seven was W. Hasekamp & Co.
W. Hasekamp & Co. has always produced the real Malt Wine Genever.

Where it all began

This is the original Office Building at the Willemskade in Schiedam, where the Company, after its foundation in 1901, started its activities. Willem Joseph was 36 years old then and the number of his employees was 6 (six) at that time.
Soon the building on the picture appeared to be too small and the Company moved to another location, also at the Willemskade.
The Company proved to be very prosperous in its first years and soon it had to expand again. Between 1910 and 1914 a new plant was founded at the Havendijk in Schiedam, where further expansion was possible.
Around 1914 the total number of employees of the Company, including sub-Companies like a Glass Factory for the production of the bottles, had risen from 6 to 1000 (one thousand)!

The Company in its most prosperous years The Office and Factory buildings

This is a "birds eye view" of the Company in its most prosperous years (left hand side), as well as a view of the main buildings (right hand side). At that time the Company owned a Factory for the production of Genever, an Office building, a Glass Factory, several streets with houses for its employees three boats for transportation of the raw materials and products from and to the harbor of nearby Rotterdam, as well as some smaller departments like a printing department, a cork producing department (for the labels on the bottles).

The Glass Factory Houses for the employees

Some more pictures from the best time: On the left hand side the Glass Factory (to be precise: the mechanical bottle manufacturing department of it; there also was a department for hand made bottles) and on the right hand side the houses, specially built for the employees of the Company.

The World Wars and the years in between

Let's continue the history of the Company a bit further, before we take a look at the production process.
In the years of the First World War business cut down dramatically (almost all the activities had to stop then) and it took years for W. Hasekamp " Co. to get back into business. There also were political problems at that time: It was not considered "done" by the English and French allied winners of the First World War to export liquor to what were from then on were called "developing countries".
Willem Joseph Hasekamp has always replied to this point by saying: "Never have I been in the Slave Trade, like these countries, with my Genever. And apart from that: I produce a suprior product".
Business became better again gradually and, to give some idea, in 1924 a number of 70,000 crates of Genever were shipped to various Countries overseas through the help African and Eastern Company (taken over by Unilever later).
But soon the Economic depression of the 1930's came and business went down again.
When Willem Joseph Hasekamp died in 1938, the Company was almost broke. After ample consideration the Company was nevertheless continued by his two sons (one of whom was my father).
During the Second World War -again- there hardly was any business at all. After this second War in the existence of the Company business started to prosper slowly again, but the high level of business of the early years could never be restored.

The final years

Competition grew. Although the new competitors did not produce the real Malt Wine Genever like W. Hasekamp & Co did, but came with products based on synthetic alcohol instead, those products were cheaper and made survival hard. Quality is not always the first priority for consumers.
After my father died a partner was sought with the same philosophy as W. Hasekamp & Co, to take the Company over, in the hope that concentration might preserve the quality product.
A partner was found in 1971 in the Company of Henkes, a distiller from Delfshaven. I lost sight of the Company some time after this take-over. Nowadays the Trade Mark W. Hasekamp & Co. has disappeared, and the former factory has been replaced by apartment buildings.... The streets with the houses for employees still exist, but of course most of the houses have been modernized and are hardly recognizable.

We have to consider this as the end of a prospering business, that had to stop in the end, not only, but certainly partly, because consumers prefer inferior products for a low price to a high quality product for a higher price. To be honest: the other reason that the company no longer exists is, because of the growing competition and the falling away -almost completely- of the African markets, because of which everything had started.

A bottle of Genever by W. Hasekamp & Co.

I can still call myself the proud owner of a few bottles of the original Malt Wine based Dutch Genever, produced in Schiedam, by

W. Hasekamp & Co.

Click here for an overview of the production process in the old days

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This page was last uploaded: September 4, 2010 at 17:54