People
Published: December 07, 2020
People
Published: December 07, 2020

’It’s Not What You’re Doing, but with Whom’

Hans Onrust, our supply chain manager Architectural Coatings (AC) Region Northern Europe, was named 2020 Rainmaker for his impeccable team management through doubly difficult times. Throughout his 37-year journey with PPG and especially during the last few months, Hans attests to one thing: “it is the people that make the company”.

“Part of the Furniture”

Approaching his 37th year with PPG, Hans considers himself, as they say in the Netherlands, “part of the furniture”. Though he’s aware that each year brings him closer to retirement, having witnessed his team handle the last couple of years, he says:

It gives me full confidence that, no matter what’s to come, the job will be done well.
 

Hans actually trained as a primary school teacher, but there weren’t many positions at the time. So, when his brother, who worked for PPG (then Sigma Coatings in the Netherlands), suggested he apply for a position, he jumped at the chance.

In 1984, he started working as a contingent worker in his hometown of Zaandam – a site that has since become the Amsterdam Harbor area.

It required a lot of studying in the evenings. I am fortunate to have had managers who supported me. I am still grateful for that.

He remembers the first ever fax machine and computer arriving at the site and people coming in to have a look at the new technology. “It is really unbelievable how much has changed during my career, especially in technology.” 

A Spider in a Web of Diversity

Hans is our supply chain manager AC Region Northern Europe, and his 47-strong team, spread across five northern European countries, is responsible for demand, supply and procurement planning and masterdata management. The team is taking care of the UK, Denmark, Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) and DACH (Germany, Austria and Switzerland).

He really values the diversity – the different personalities, languages and cultures in his team.

I love that my location and “being a spider in a web” make it possible to visit, under normal circumstances, my international colleagues on site.

He believes in the power of good communication. Even when there’s nothing more to discuss than “last weekend’s football game”. It only takes a minute, but strengthens team relationships and resilience.

Creating Opportunities for Growth

Being focused on the people around him, one of his outstanding projects that earned Hans the award of a 2020 Rainmaker, is building one unified ‘Region North Supply team’. Before July 2018, there used to be three independent planning departments in Region North: “We were very good in sharing best practices, but not that good at implementing them.”

Hans and his colleagues worked on a model to integrate these departments, and to create specialist groups and development opportunities for team members.

Not only did we create new opportunities for people to grow in their careers and personally, but it also increased our working efficiency.

Hans also stepped up after the Amsterdam warehouse was outsourced to a third party in 2018. The team was getting ready to replace their dated warehouse management system with a better one during the quieter months. He also helped ensure that they prevented any interruption to their deliveries.

Not only did the busy season start extra early due to good weather, but the new system came with many issues. It meant several months of “extremely difficult circumstances”.

To overcome them, the team built several bypasses around the warehouse that enabled them to continue delivering critical stock keeping units (SKUs) in Benelux. This helped keep their inter-company flow moving.

All the while, COVID-19 was wreaking havoc with the economy and supply chain.

I might have initiated some of the ideas but the hard work was done by the people around me. They deserve a big credit for the award.

It’s the People That Make the Company

Hans had, in fact, nominated several of his colleagues for the Rainmaker 2020 award for having “lived ‘The PPG Way’” during those difficult circumstances. When his manager asked him for a private word, he assumed one of his nominees had been awarded.

I was speechless. I consider it a very special award but could never have imagined I’d be selected.

Hans firmly believes that you cannot do things all by yourself. In fact, he says it’s the people he works with that have made him want to stay so long with PPG.

Find the right people and join forces. It will inspire you to go the extra mile – ‘The PPG Way’. In the end, it is not about what you are doing, but whom you are doing it with.