More and more companies and institutions are going bankrupt as a result of the corona crisis, according to figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). Hospitality companies, among others, have a hard time. This also applies to the family business of Mike van den Berg, who together with his father filed for bankruptcy for their bakery business.
"I am the sixth generation working in the bakery. We are 156 years old," says the Gouda entrepreneur. His father is the official owner, he has the face and the right hand. The bakery is much more than a bakery. The company also includes two shops, a lunchroom, a catering service and a stroopwafel shop. Tourism was an important source of income.
"I think everyone thought in the first week of the lockdown: this will blow over", Van den Berg describes. But after a few weeks it looked less and less rosy. "The press conferences were even more nerve-wracking for us than the World Cup finals." Last year, the bakery company had invested heavily in tourism. "I compare it to sowing and harvesting. The harvest has failed."
35 men on the street
One of his biggest concerns when the lockdown continued was the 35-strong team. "We first looked at opportunities and openings. Like home breakfast service, things like that," he says. Yet it was not enough. "It was no match for the tourist coaches we normally receive."
"It was no match for the coaches full of tourists that we normally receive."
Dad Van den Berg eventually decided to file for bankruptcy. "As a private individual you are personally liable," he explains. "You have to sense how far you can absorb the blow. That limit was reached at some point. We missed too much turnover."
'Start looking at restart immediately'
Despite the blow, the 31-year-old entrepreneur's fire has not yet gone out. "I immediately started looking at a restart." He wants to shift the focus of the company from tourism to stroopwafels. "I hope that we can take some personnel with us on a restart. And that my father will come to work for me, because I cannot do without his experience. My father has worked hard for fifty years, he is a kind of steam locomotive."
It is not how the entrepreneur from Gouda had envisioned the takeover of the family business. "I'd rather my dad gave the key to me at some point."
Togetherness in Gouda
Van den Berg's emotions shoot from left to right. "Sometimes you think, I have failed. But it helps me to talk to others." He is happy to be an entrepreneur in Gouda. "The city has a warm heart for me. All bakers in Gouda called me to ask if they could help me. I am not of the competition."
"All the bakers in Gouda called me to ask if they could help me."
Whether the government should have done more to save his company, Van den Berg does not know. "I wouldn't want to be in someone's shoes there. Besides, I can't see into the government's wallet," he emphasizes. "And I am happy that we live in the Netherlands. When I look at other countries, the support packages are more shabby there."