‘I used to be an avid runner, covering distances like 10 kilometers. Those days are behind me, I've found a new interest in gardening.’
Weaving a career in the air cargo industry leaves a unique indelible imprint on people that shape their future paths as individuals and leaders.
Hans van Schaik, sales director at SACO Airport Equipment, shares his own unique story, a journey that has led him to unforgettable travels across the world, meeting people from all walks of life and responsible evolution as an industry leader.
“Long ago, I worked for a company specializing in industrial weighing, and handling exports. Among diverse industries, I encountered an airport equipment firm, which thrilled me due to a lifelong fascination with the industry. My father’s involvement in the field fueled this excitement since childhood,” van Schaik recalls.
“Eventually,” he added, “I switched careers to join an airport equipment company, following my passion. The allure of airports and planes remains strong. I’ve been with SACO since 2004, spanning nearly 20 years. This journey has led me worldwide, aligning with my intrinsic connection to this industry.”
Based in The Netherlands, SACO designs, manufactures, and supplies turnkey cargo handling equipment and systems for more than 50 years now. Its products have been widely used in many European countries as well as in India, Indonesia, Russia, USA, UAE, Canada, Curaçao, Rwanda, and Ethiopia.
Van Schaik worked his way up to become a team leader and eventually as head of sales for SACO.
“Being deeply engaged across all aspects allows you to navigate the company towards your envisioned path. In my early days in 2004, the turnover was struggling. Now, it’s surged by about 20 times. The sense of pride in this achievement is immense. Witnessing the growing team is equally rewarding; their enthusiasm fuels me. My role isn’t about being a boss, but inspiring others to join this journey we’re on,” he said.
Taking time to keep your work and life balance is important, said van Schaik. He does this by engaging in sports and these days, gardening.
“I used to be an avid runner, covering distances like 10 kilometers. Although those days are behind me, I’ve found a new interest in gardening. Our home is on the outskirts of a larger city, allowing me to immerse myself in outdoor activities. Another source of joy is witnessing my children’s growth and journey toward their own paths. Recently, we acquired land in Brazil, presenting an exciting upcoming challenge. Gardening there will be especially demanding due to the rapid growth of vegetation,” van Schaik shared.
Adding, “My wife often complains about the work-life balance. I’m focused on emphasizing the ‘life’ aspect, though it’s challenging. With more staff, I can now invest time in my personal life. Unfortunately, I struggle to disconnect from work at home due to global clients in varying time zones reaching out via email or WhatsApp. To manage, I’ve silenced my phone and relied on vibrations for notifications. This grants some peace during the day, and though it’s tough, I attempt to ignore nighttime buzzes.”
As an industry leader, van Schaik says it’s important to have enthusiasm and honesty in what you’re doing.
“I value enthusiasm as a primary trait in individuals, alongside their professional qualities. The drive to create and excel is crucial in those I seek. Embrace your authenticity. My dad’s advice: Don’t pretend to be someone else. Progress comes from being genuine. I value openness and honest conversations. Just be yourself, as that’s most important,” he said.
And to the younger generation seeking to venture into the air cargo industry, van Schaik says efforts must be stepped up to help inspire them to create a rewarding career path in the sector.
“During a recent reception, a topic of discussion was the lack of youth interest in air cargo, unlike larger firms such as Swissport, WFS, UPS, and Amazon, which attract younger talent due to their progressive nature. Smaller companies, however, tend to remain conservative and are devoid of young representation. Initiatives like TIACA’s young professional program aim to address this and the industry’s communication and modernization challenges, which are yet to be fully resolved,” he said.