Meet Theo Gerrits, Wittenborg’s New Facility & Operations Coordinator

 Meet Theo Gerrits, Wittenborg’s New Facility & Operations Coordinator

Among Other Tasks, Theo Will Ensure that School’s Housing Facilities Excel

With more than 30 years of experience in the events sector, Theo Gerrits, a well-known figure in Apeldoorn, has recently joined Wittenborg as the school’s new Facility & Operations Coordinator. Among other tasks, Theo will be responsible for maintaining the school’s buildings in proper order, including the student housing facilities. Additionally, he will help with the front desk and, in the near future, also participate in the organisation of events. 

“I like being very flexible and doing different kinds of things when it’s possible to combine them. I am really happy about the variety of tasks that I am responsible for at Wittenborg; the days here are never boring,” says Theo. 

Born and raised in Apeldoorn, Theo completed trade school and then went to do his 18-month military service, which was compulsory in the Netherlands at the time. After that, he joined a dealership that sold Citroën cars, working as a salesman for 11 years. 

That was when Theo started feeling that he wanted to go into something more creative and less predictable. Having an acquaintance who worked with events, he realised that that could be a stimulating professional activity, involving plenty of creativity. “This is a highly dynamic sector, and every time you organise an event, it is different. Back then, there weren’t any courses or programmes about events available. So, I gained practical experience by working together with my acquaintance for one year, and then I opened my own business, Totaal Organisatie.” 

Over the last three decades, Theo’s company has organised events of various kinds in Apeldoorn. These activities range from concerts, birthday parties and weddings to corporate gatherings and the unveiling of new factories. 

“Some of these events are really popular in Apeldoorn. We organised, for instance, a concert on the canal, in which there was a big orchestra performing on pontoons. The programme lasted for two days, and it was great. I am also one of the founders of Apeldoorn’s Dragon Boat race, which involves boats from private companies, government organisations and also regular citizens. This is a huge event in the city.” 

According to him, in addition to being exciting, the events sector can be really challenging. “When people come to you with the idea of an event they want to organise, at first you’re selling them air, because there is nothing concrete. You have to figure out how to make an event that is exactly like what the customer has in mind, or even better than that.” 

Exploring new directions

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the events sector was greatly affected, which caused Theo and his partner Marjolein to explore other fields of activity. For a while, he worked as a cab driver for people with disabilities, especially children, while she was helping a community living project also targeted to people with disabilities.  

Once the pandemic was over, there was a significant surge in demand within the events sector, keeping Theo and Marjolein busy with a sudden influx of work. Nevertheless, their horizons had broadened and they decided to venture into other areas.  

“Marjolein had the idea of taking over a classic pub and brewery in Apeldoorn, ‘Het Achterom’, and we both got very excited about that. She manages the pub and I help her with it. As for me, I have decided to end my events business gradually because I feel that, after thirty years, I have seen a lot and done a lot. I am 66 years old and organising these big events is really physically demanding. So, the time has come to close that book,” Theo says.

 Meet Theo Gerrits, Wittenborg’s New Facility & Operations Coordinator

Having organised events in which Wittenborg participated, Theo was already acquainted with the school. Additionally, he is friends with Peter Ham, who served as Wittenborg’s Housing & Facilities Manager.  

When Peter’s time at Wittenborg was coming to an end, he invited Theo to replace him, and was met with an enthusiastic response. “Sometimes I would visit Peter at the school for a chat and I realised that the atmosphere there was very nice. So, I told him that I would be interested in joining Wittenborg if there were opportunities available. I am very happy it worked out.” 

Theo highlights that working for Wittenborg is both stimulating and challenging because the school is growing very fast, which requires constant adaptation. “You have to maintain the high quality of education, but the housing also needs to be of a high level. We’re always seeking to provide our students with great accommodation.”

For him, the best thing about Wittenborg is the people who are part of it. “Everyone here is so friendly, polite and correct. That is what you notice when you’re sitting at the front desk. I only see happy faces. That’s a very good atmosphere.”

Passions and interests

When Theo is not working, one of his favourite places to go to in Apeldoorn is the smoking club ‘Fumo Ergo Sum’. He relates this to the fact that his father owned a cigar shop in the city for many years, as well as a dry cleaner’s. 

Theo is also passionate about vintage cars and mechanics. “I like to close myself up in the barn and I even have a lift for working on my cars, as well as a lot of tools. For me, that’s a way to decompress and forget my worries when I’m there.” 

Among his most treasured possessions are a BMW 2800 CS and an SMV 24 LS Caravan, both from 1970, which he took 15 years to gradually restore, after buying them in a very bad condition. His other classic car is an FT Bonito, also from 1970.  

“Back in the day, people would buy a kit with all the FT Bonito parts and assemble it. I didn’t have to do that when I bought the car some years ago, but it was in very bad shape. I had to do a lot of work on it, but now it drives really nicely,” he points out. 

WUP 08/05/2024 
by Ulisses Sawczuk 
©WUAS Press