September 2019

100 years in real estate: an interview with Brian Martens

July 19, 2019, Rotterdam,

Within Van der Vorm Vastgoed, several generations work together daily to develop and lease valuable real estate throughout the Netherlands and Europe. Earlier in this series, we interviewed Mrs. Van der Vorm, who has been very actively involved in the family business since its founding in 1919. This time an interview with one of our employees from the younger generation: Brian Martens.

Brian joined our project development team as a Junior Project Manager last summer. Real estate, as revealed later in this interview, is a common thread in the life of this ambitious and energetic millenial.

Internship to study Real Estate & Brokerage

During his internship and then side job at Ravestein Bouwmanagement, Brian was already involved in a number of Van der Vorm Vastgoed projects. He performed work for the residential complexes Harvest, Haag & Goes on the Oude Haagweg in The Hague, the shopping center and residential towers De Hoven in Delft and the Westpolder shopping center in Papendrecht. All this in addition to his studies in Real Estate & Real Estate Brokerage at the Hogeschool in Rotterdam. For the latter study he was looking for a new internship address and he found it here with us.

Brian is currently in the final year of his studies, an exciting period in which he is full of enthusiasm and confidence. He really likes dual education, working four days and going back to school one day: 'this way you immediately become part of the company where you do your internship and the dual aspect links theory to practice.' And that pays off: recently Brian was promoted at Van der Vorm Vastgoed; within a year he has advanced to the position of Project Manager.

'Cool international work'

Van der Vorm Vastgoed is an international player. Exploring the market in areas where our organization is not yet a player, and asking why we invest in certain areas is something Brian finds very cool to do. 'For everyone in the organization, these are new markets. How do you enter such a market and how do you penetrate it in a way that suits this Rotterdam family business. He gets the confidence within the organization to go and find that out.

Brian's projects within Van der Vorm Vastgoed include Hoboken in Rhoon, a transformation of a former office building into 44 new rental apartments, and 29 tiny houses in The Hague. These homes are made in two parts, completely prefabricated in, a factory. In the morning when the residents of Harvest phase 1A go to work, there is nothing there yet, and at the end of the day there is a new home with new neighbors.

Are tiny houses the future of living? Brian definitely thinks there is a future in the microliving living concept: "People don't necessarily want to own property anymore. The new generation, especially at our age, thinks more in freedom; go where you want. You only use the living space you need instead of an excessive home. Tiny houses fit perfectly into this lifestyle. As far as he is concerned, micro living (a complete household, with all the luxuries, possibly shared facilities in a small area) also has future prospects. And that vision is supported internally. 'Together with Margreet, I am therefore going to further elaborate and shape this concept in the coming period'.

Tenant satisfaction is a top priority at Van der Vorm Vastgoed. For Brian, this means that tenants feel safe and comfortable in their own homes. 'The wishes of tenants are listened to and our tenants may expect more from us in terms of amenities, luxury, comfort, experience but certainly also service than is the case elsewhere.

'The boardroom door is always open'

Brian himself felt that at the beginning of his job at Van der Vorm Vastgoed he really belonged after only a few weeks. 'You can clearly notice that the portfolio is very large, but it is a family business. You feel at home very quickly and are warmly welcomed. The door to the boardroom is always open.

Rotterdam mentality 'don't bullshit, but polish'

When asked to describe Van der Vorm Vastgoed with 3 to 5 words. The first thing Brian mentions is: "warm, enterprising, family-oriented", there is a pleasant atmosphere, there is a Rotterdam mentality (don't bullshit, but clean up), if you seize opportunities you can do a lot, regardless of your age and who you are".

It is a nice club and more and more young people are joining. People are open to young talent and it is very nice that colleagues with years of experience are busy helping you with their knowledge transfer.' What Brian can really appreciate is that once every 3 weeks he has a meeting with our general director, Sico van Ammers, to talk through the projects.

A real estate portfolio of my own when I'm old and wise enough

Brian is having a great time and, for now, he hasn't finished learning. Ultimately, his goal is to further expand a his own portfolio. "When I'm old and wise enough, but for now I'm right here.

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