Like many other great businesses, MEY Personeelsdiensten (personnel services) was founded out of frustration with the state of the sector. Determined to turn the recruitment industry into a people’s business once more, its two young founders built their business on thorough screening and human interaction. “Our primary goal is to skyrocket long and steady careers”.
TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS | PHOTOS: MEY PERSONEELSDIENSTEN
When Yff Zwartepoorte flunked in secondary school in 2017, he decided to take a sabbatical to work and explore his options. “I ended up doing temporary jobs for a work office with a questionable reputation in our region,” Zwartepoorte recalls. “Companies were sent under-qualified employees or even people who didn’t speak a single word of Dutch or English. Their only objective was to make as much profit as possible, regardless of the consequences for the employer or employees.” While working for this job office, Zwartepoorte met Stephan Broomhead, a fellow employee with similar frustrations about the business. “We thought: we can do better.”
With this mindset, the young duo founded MEY Personeelsdiensten, a recruitment office unlike any other. “What sets us apart is our thorough screening of every company we work for and every candidate-employee whose resumé we receive. Whenever a company decides to work with us, we head to their offices and observe their way of working. This way, we know exactly what they are looking for. With the business profile that we assemble about them in hand, we hunt for the perfect match. Before we even consider placing a worker somewhere, we have a decent talk with the employee to get to know them and see their passion, experience and talent. Only if we are convinced that the company and the worker could be a great match, we suggest them to the client.” And that formula works.
A vast majority of MEY Personeelsdiensten’s cases become success stories. “Recently, we got a visit from a seaman with 20 years of experience who wanted to start a new career so he could spend more time with his family. We found him a job as an electrician, the trade that he had learned in secondary school but never practiced. Enthusiastic as he was, he gave it his all from day one and showed himself eager to catch up with the sector’s evolutions of the last two decennia. After just two weeks, his boss told him that he wanted to give him a permanent contract. Our primary goal is to skyrocket our employees’ careers, not to enrich ourselves.”
Despite this philanthropic philosophy, MEY Personeelsdiensten sometimes has some problems convincing clients and employees to work with them. The many unethical work offices in the near environment have tainted the sector’s name. “Companies and employees often tell us that they have worked with recruitment offices before and are not eager to repeat that experience. It takes time to assure them that we are no greed-driven office but one of passionate matchmakers. When they finally opt in, it usually turns out to be a long-lasting collaboration, which proves that we are indeed doing things differently.”
That is also noticeable on the paycheques of the employees and the invoices to the clients. By lowering their commissions, MEY Personeelsdienten manages to pay out a significantly higher salary to its employees while keeping the rates low for its clients. “That seemed next to impossible in the beginning, but we eventually made it work. Where most work offices pay their cleaning ladies the legal minimum of not even ten euros, we usually pay around 12 euros per hour. This keeps our staff motivated, which allows us to provide better quality. Despite giving them extrinsic motivation through wages, we also want to motivate our employees by giving them a good working environment and relationship with their employer. What distinguishes us, is the personal touch, which means that the interests of the employee are paramount.”
With MEY Personeelsdiensten, Zwartepoorte and Broomhead prove that you don’t need a degree to make your way in life. Both founders left secondary school without one but created their own chances anyway. Now 21 and 27 years old, the young duo has no regrets when looking back. “Of course, we think that education is paramount, and youngsters should do their best in school. Yet, it is also important for them to know that not all doors close on you without that piece of paper. If you are willing to work and know your talents, we can find you a great job to excel in.”
After a bit more than a year, MEY Personeelsdiensten still has big growth ambitions. Today, they mainly focus on the infrastructure, construction, transportation and cleaning sector in the south of the Netherlands as well as the harbour industry in Vlissingen (near its head office in Goes). Yet, growth is waiting around the corner. “We are convinced that we have what it takes to push MEY Personeelsdiensten to a national or even international level. We will, however, never jeopardise our unique DNA of putting the people first.”