The civil engineers, Gijs Groen and Bernd Theßeling, started their jobs as Commercial Directors at TenCate Geosynthetics during the pandemic in 2021. They focus on the development of their markets and individually designed projects to meet the changing requirements of our clients.

Interview with Gijs Groen and Bernd Theßeling

You just started your new jobs a couple of months ago, in the middle of the pandemic. Which challenges have you faced in these first few months as Commercial Directors? 

Bernd Theßeling: To start working in a new job environment during the pandemic was very challenging, particularly not being able to meet my team or new customers in person. What is helpful, though, is the fact that everyone has now become accustomed to communicating via online video meetings. 

Gijs Groen: It has become easier to build a relationship and discuss with people via online meetings than it was before the pandemic. No doubt this will have a lasting impact on our way of doing business but I still think – and I am sure Bernd agrees – that meeting a client in person is worth much more. 

„We focus on developing individual product designs and unique solutions for a growing number of projects.“  

Bernd Theßeling, Commercial Director Region Central Europe

In which way has your former professional and personal experience
helped to prepare you for your new jobs? 

Bernd Theßeling: I studied civil engineering because I was always interested in technical subjects. After university I worked in an engineering office for a few years where I gained experience in project design and project management. Then I moved into the geosynthetics business, and from product management via business development I made my way into sales. I am open-minded, I have travelled a lot and worked on international projects which helped me understand people and their behavior, something which is crucial in my day-to-day business.

I like working with people, which is why I went into sales. With my new position at TenCate, I can develop the markets technically and commercially which combines being a civil engineer and a strategist. This makes my job very interesting for me. 

Gijs Groen: My motivation to study civil engineering was that I wanted to realize bigger projects in the construction industry and to have a technical background, but I also wanted to learn how to take strategic decisions, realize project management and do the commercial part. When I was working for an international contractor, I came into contact with geosynthetics and TenCate.

What fascinates me is that TenCate offers solutions that mean something. TenCate offers sustainable solutions to keep societies safe, improving the quality of life and boosting the economic growth for that region. These environmental solutions will survive our and future generations. As all countries are engaging more and more in sustainability, it is exciting to work for a company like TenCate that will contribute to this goal. 

“As all countries are engaging more and more in sustainability, it is exciting to work for a company like TenCate that will contribute to this goal.” 

Gijs Groen, Commercial Director Region North

Each of you is responsible for various, different markets with specific characteristics. How do you approach these markets? 

Gijs Groen: I am responsible for the Region North which is divided into four regions: Scandinavia, Belgium & Netherlands, UK & Ireland and the Baltic countries. We have our own way of doing business in each country: via agents, via (smaller and bigger) distributors or our own sales teams. We are happy that TenCate offers the full product range of geosynthetics, has manufacturing knowhow and a great deal of experience in different countries.

TenCate stands for high quality and excellent service for our contractors. We are not only a company that sells products. We are also involved in engineering the best solutions and in supporting our customers. We are putting more and more energy into the development of customized solutions. 

Bernd Theßeling: This is of increasing importance in some of our markets where distributors and customers are asking for more support. We fulfill our clients´ demands according to their needs with the full product range – including standard products, like non-wovens, as well as projects where we develop the design up to a broad range of customized solutions. 

We focus on developing individual product designs and unique solutions for a growing number of projects. I am responsible for the Region Central which includes the DACH-region, Eastern European states likes the Czech Republic or Poland and South-East European countries. We do have different market approaches throughout these countries, working with our own sales teams and selling via wholesalers, local distributors or sales agents. 

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