With six locations on Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, and Saint Martin, including five megastores, over 500 employees, and a wide range of more than 25,000 products retail giant Kooyman BV (Ltd.) can truly be called the market leader of the Dutch Caribbean region. The small carpentry Adrianus (Ad) Kooyman founded in 1939 on Curacao, has grown into a successful chain of one-stop shops for building materials, hardware and home improvement.
After opening several shops on Curacao and Bonaire Kooyman started looking for business opportunities on other Dutch Caribbean islands. The former Antillian Trading Company on Aruba was taken over by Kooyman in 1965, but kept its name until the year 2000. Due to the new concept of run and fun shopping that the company was introducing on the islands and the fact that the old Aruban store in Dakota (opened in 1969) wasn’t big enough to handle the growing influx of customers and their needs, the retailer started building a much bigger store and their innovative new drive-through at a new location. Kooymans’ current megastore on the Avenida E.J. Watty Vos opened its doors in 2011. The scale-up also meant an increase of 42 more employees. Nowadays, the megastore employs a total of 102 people.
Run and Fun shopping
The newly appointed (2016) but very experienced store manager Frank Heitkönig, who has been working in the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) retail business for over 27 years now, is very happy with the new concept and the way the store is build. The megastore is much bigger than the old store, has a far more spacious set-up, more cash registers and a much larger storage area. “For the coming years,
we are perfectly fine”, he adds.
All Kooymans’ megastores are strategically constructed based on the concept of run and fun shopping. The core of the megastore, the central run shopping section, is defined by functionality and necessity. Customers like contractors don’t want to lose time looking for the materials and tools they are purchasing. Their purpose is to see, grab, buy their hardware and be gone as fast and efficient as possible. Contrary to fun shoppers like families and hobbyists, for example, who like to bide their time to deliberate, compare, choose between different kinds of decorative designs, styles, materials, and weigh their options. These customers find what they need in the outer ring of the Megastore.
Rawer building materials like wood, cement, rebar and manto rolls for roofing are sold at the indoor drive thru. The integrated brand new and completely covered drive thru is a huge improvement for both customers and employees. Not only because all the warehouses are just outside the megastore, thus making it easier to manage the logistics, as the store manager explains, but in the old situation contractors and employees had to go to outdoors and work and wait in the sun. Nowadays they just drive through the drive thru, collect the materials they need and check out. Very easy and efficient. Moreover, this new drive thru provides a way of storage that enhances the quality of the products, which of course is of the utmost importance for both Kooyman and the customers. The construction materials are being bought from all over the world. At the head office of Kooyman in Curacao the buyers from the purchasing department roam the globe in pursuit of high quality products for the best possible price. Kooymans’ pressure treated wood, for example, is shipped in from the States, their plywood comes from Russia, timber is imported from North America,
and their manto rolls are Colombian. The company has a special logistics division that takes care of the whole collecting and transportation process, thus from the exporting country all the way to the delivery of the materials and products at the stores on the four islands.
“For the coming years, we are perfectly fine”
Building the community
Besides helping people and businesses to realize their construction and home improvement dreams, as stated in their mission, the local stores of Kooyman contribute to the communities as well. Projects having to do with poverty reduction, youth and education or sustainability can count on materials and financial support. The megastore on Aruba, for example, gave an old people’s home several Christmas trees including the decorations, organized a free of charge workshop to make a jewelry box for 400 women in the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and supports the Aruban Kiwanis Club. But that’s not all. To keep a close relationship with the members of the community and their clients the store offers regular shop nights and monthly workshops for kids and women. Every month the participants learn to make something else. It can be a wooden toy or kite for the children or a spice rack for the women. These workshops are very popular and one has to subscribe early to be able to join.
Change and innovation
In order to stay their customers’ favorite construction and home improvement retailer Kooyman needs to move along with the fast changing and innovating construction market. And according to store manager Heitkönig the construction market is changing rather fast. Not only because of the development of revolutionary technologies like prefab building with ISOTEX© construction materials, all kinds of inventions coming from the American Shark Tank Show and new ways to build faster, cheaper and more efficient, but also because of their changing customers. The days that tough construction workers were Kooymans’ only clients are definitely over. Nowadays, DIY-ers who want to improve or even renovate their house themselves in the weekend and women looking for nice decorative items have become important customers. And different consumers have different demands. Therefore, Kooymans’ buyer team and marketing officers monitor trends and developments closely, making sure that the stores are up to date, sell the latest inventions, materials and products, and offer the right services to exceed their customers’ expectations.
Store Manager Frank Heitköning
Due to the fact that his father was stationed as a Marine in Aruba, Frank Heitkönig partly grew up on Aruba in the early eighties and his heart never left. As soon as the opportunity to return to the island presented itself, Heitkönig didn’t think twice and set course to Aruba. Having worked in the retail business since he was a young boy, fulfilling different managing positions in big DIY-chains like Gamma and Karwei in Holland as he grew older, Kooyman appointed him assistant manager of the brand new megastore in 2011 to begin with. Before he could take over and become the store manager in 2016 he had to learn the ways of the island first. Heitkönig simply loves his job. Contrary to the hardware and home improvement retailers in Holland Kooyman allows its megastores to develop a sense of local entrepreneurship and initiative. And he really enjoys the face-to-face contact and personal connection with his customers. There is room to have a cup coffee with the contractors, chat and getting to know them while talking business. The satisfaction to be able to help people to get what they want, is what motivates and drives him in the retail business and as store manager of Kooymans’ megastore on Aruba.