Family bonds

Author: Alexandra Alferi
Haniel employees and their families: how they live and work – and reconcile the two worlds

Rik Holvoet, 52, CIO at BekaertDeslee

“Never a dull moment!”

Rik Holvoet is 52 years old and a father through and through: biological father, adoptive father, foster father, stepfather and grandfather. And this despite the fact that he and his ex-wife had tried in vain for many years to have offspring. Finally they adopted Maaike, a girl from Rwanda – and a good year later a second girl, Lobke from Haiti. Meanwhile, Holvoet’s wife, surprisingly, became pregnant. “We had two new members of the family within six months,” Holvoet recalls. Then the 18-year-old au pair Vicky moved in with the family. “She had lost her parents and saw no prospects in her Polish homeland.” Holvoet made it possible for her to pursue tourism studies and made sure that she could stay in Belgium after her au pair year. “Though I couldn’t adopt her, she’s like a daughter to me.”

With four children, the family’s happiness seemed complete. But then – three years after the birth of their youngest daughter, Bo – the Holvoets’ marriage fell apart. Rik Holvoet lived alone with his daughters for six years before meeting his current wife. She brought two sons with her, and thus completed the Belgian extended family. Meanwhile, the “children” are now between 22 and 39 years old and have already moved out. Vicky has two children of her own, twelve and nine years old. “For them, we are the coolest grandparents ever, because my wife and I, compared with other grandparents, are still fairly young,” says Holvoet. “The best thing about a family this big is that there’s never a dull moment!”


Werner Schreitmüller is 62 years old and works at KAISER+KRAFT as the department manager for catalogue production. Martin Schreitmüller is 30 years old and is the product owner for prüfplaner.de

Analogue or digital? The main thing is keeping it in the family

Mr Schreitmüller, Junior – was the fact that your father works at KAISER+KRAFT a factor for you when you chose this job?

[MARTIN SCHREITMÜLLER]: The trainee position was advertised by a personnel service provider, and I only learned later that it was at KAISER+KRAFT. The fact that my father has enjoyed working there for over 30 years was an argument in favour of the job, but the deciding factor was the overall package.

What is it like, working together day to day?

[WERNER SCHREITMÜLLER]: At the beginning there were misunderstandings. I received e-mails about some projects and spent days wondering how I could help – until it turned out that the e-mails were for my son.

[MARTIN SCHREITMÜLLER]: I got catalogue requests in Chinese [laughs]. We sit in the same area, but our responsibilities are very different. My father sells the classic products via the catalogue, while I am responsible for a purely digital service. Professionally, we don’t have much to do with each other.

Do you still benefit from working with each other?

[WERNER SCHREITMÜLLER]: Very much so. At the beginning, I gave Martin some tips. Conversely, he helps me if I can’t figure out a new programme on the PC, for example. It’s good to have him here.

[MARTIN SCHREITMÜLLER]: I agree. Now that I know his daily work routine, I can understand why he used to often get home fairly late. The work has deepened our understanding of each other.

What does the future hold?

[WERNER SCHREITMÜLLER]: I’m going into partial retirement in August, and with Martin here, I feel like I’m not leaving entirely. That’s very satisfying.


Sonja Hausmanns, 41, is the senior communications manager at the Haniel holding and the editor-in-chief of enkelfähig

“I don’t need to have children to be happy! … or do I?”

My husband and I have been together for 20 years. For me it was always clear: I do not have to become a mother to have a full life. But then the typical questions came up: I love my job, but is that always going to be what it’s all about? Will I regret not having children at some point, when it’s too late? And so our first daughter was born when I was 38 years old.

Now I’m 41 and, surprisingly, pregnant with my third child. Being a mother is great, but the kids didn’t make me a different person. The job is still an important part of my life. That’s why, ten months after the birth of my first daughter, I returned to full-time work, while my husband changed to part-time work. When the second daughter arrived, that’s when the fun really began – and that’s when I also reduced my hours, to 80 per cent. After the birth of our third daughter, my husband will probably take a little longer parental leave than I do. I think it’s important to show my girls that it’s normal for a mother to work. And if my family urgently needs me at home, Haniel offers me the necessary flexibility. I’m glad my husband and I decided to have children after all. We see the children grow and feel how we ourselves grow to be parents.


Florian Stern is 35 years old and has been head of the DACH key account division of the new joint venture since 2018. Julian Stern is 28 years old and is sales manager, textile care, at CWS-boco in Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

A Stern matter: of brothers and rivals

Florian Stern began his career 14 years ago in the sales department of Rentokil Initial. The British company offers services in the areas of pest control, workwear and hygiene. “I got a foothold quickly,” says the 35-year-old. His enthusiasm for the job prompted his seven-years-younger brother Julian – actually a carpenter by training – to join the company, also in the sales department. When CWS-boco, a Haniel company, made Julian an offer, he did not hesitate for long. For six years now he has been selling workwear for CWS-boco. During the application phase, he asked his big brother for advice, but once Julian had signed the contract, such talks were a no-go. “We never talked about our jobs – after all, we worked in competing companies,” says Florian. Things are different today: CWS-boco took over Initial’s European business in 2017 – former competitors became colleagues. “Through the merger of CWS-boco and Initial, the companies are well positioned for the future,” says Florian. “This also has many advantages for us personally.” Julian adds, “We can now talk to each other much more openly and also support each other professionally. We benefit from our mutual networks. There are no more secrets.”

Video: Interview with personnel officer Martina Tinnefeld (German)