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A&O interview

MM Metal Recycling: from construction site to a great company

In a short time, a new company was started up in Klundert by order of Japanese parent company Mitsubishi Materials: MM Metal Recycling. General Manager Harald Wagemaker has the task of supervising establishment and development of the new company and finding the required staff. By targeting people with a distance to the labour market, he was able to fill all positions in a very short time.

“We are currently a fully operational company,” says Harald Wagemaker. “Things were different three years ago, when I was working from a construction shed on a barren plain here. We are now fully operational and have 43 people working with us. We recycle printed circuit boards from discarded telephones and computers, among other things.”

Enormous potential

An unbelievable story: from construction site to great company in three years’ time. Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that the company has managed to find all required staff in those three years. The main reason is the fact that Wagemaker has not hesitated to hire people with some distance to the labour market. Wagemaker: “The economic situation is still favourable. This means that well-educated young people can pick and choose jobs. I have,  therefore, focused on the target group of people with a distance to the labour market - this offers great potential.” Wagemaker contacted the Employee Insurance Agency Netherlands (UWV) and municipality of Moerdijk, which offer various job provision programs for people with a distance to the labour market. “I found a willing reception at both agencies,” says Wagemaker. “More than half of our staff now comes from this target group.”

Incredibly loyal

The company has hired a number of people over 50 years old, for example. Wagemaker doesn't understand why so many prejudices about older employees still exist. “The idea is that young people are cheaper. If you only consider salary, that's true. But older employees offer you much more than they cost you. They are incredibly loyal, have a wealth of experience and, compared to younger employees, it takes four times less time to explain things to them. Moreover, they work twice as hard, because they know very well that they will not easily be offered another chance on the labour market .”

“Due to reorganisations at large companies such as Philips, Sabic and Philip Morris, many elderly people in our region have become unemployed,” continues Wagemaker. “These people are often on unemployment benefits for a long time. That causes them to develop a negative self-image, they feel useless. This is reinforced by the way in which society looks at over-50s: they are seen as difficult, less productive and inflexible.” These prejudices are completely wrong, emphasizes Wagemaker. “I really enjoy working with older employees. I interviewed a 56-year-old team leader who had been unemployed for two years. In the interview, they turned out to have an excellent resume and a nice personality. We took them on immediately.”


Social at heart

Not only the elderly, but also young people with 'a blemish' are given a chance at MM Metal Recycling. Such as a 32-year-old man who applied simply because he was obliged to look for jobs. “I invited him over. That boy turned out to be in a terrible place. He could no longer see his wife and children and was heavily in debt. If a person like that is not given a chance, he will never overcome his problems. We gave him the opportunity. People like this offer enormous loyalty in return.”

Why is he so involved with people having a hard time on our labour market? Wagemaker: “I have a social heart, which I got from my grandfather. He was a real socialist, who always challenged me to debate. I think that subconsciously influenced me, as I find 'taking care of each other' really important.” Japanese parent company Mitsubishi Materials subscribes to that philosophy, according to Wagemaker. “In Japan, the idea is that everyone should take care of each other. Many people are offered jobs, which means that unemployment is low.” However, that certainly does not mean that his company is 'a sheltered workshop', he emphasizes. “In that respect I am more capitalist than my grandfather: you simply need to make money. Nevertheless, I am convinced that people with a distance to the labour market can offer considerable added value. I would like to say to other A+O companies: don't leave these people on the sidelines, because you would be doing yourself a disservice!”

Press release


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Press release

Establishment of MM Metal Recycling B.V. in Netherlands

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