This year marks ENTER's 20th anniversary. Founder Roland Poesen once started with a one-room office, a desk and a telephone. Now, 25 people are working in the office. "When someone for the first time suggested we hire someone for the back office, that was a completely novel idea for me."
Roland started his business in 2001, after a career at a large secondment organization. He wanted to make the services within this industry more personal. "It is not just about selling your services, but also about taking into account people's motivation. They all have different needs, and it is crucial to listen to them and connect to those needs."
“Starting up during a crisis proved good timing”
Roland Poesen / Founder
"The year 2001 was, of course, a dramatic year," says Roland, referring to the economic crisis at that time. "But it turned out to be the best time to start because I had nothing to lose. There were plenty of people to employ at that time, but there was no demand for them, so I just stuck the phone to my ear and started calling."
And that was when our launching customer entered our lives. And not just any customer: Philips Healthcare, back then called Medical, asked Roland to supply fifteen people to work on MR (Magnetic Resonance) systems. A challenging request, but when opportunity knocks, you need to answer that call. So, Roland conducted interviews with approximately 250 people. Roland: "I would personally pick them up from the station and take them to the office. Back then, the office was just one room. I sometimes feared that if it didn't work, it would be game over for ENTER."
But it did work, in part thanks to the trust Philips put in Roland. Roland looks back proudly: "Of the fifteen people I selected, twelve joined Philips, and three joined ENTER. This assignment got me off to a flying start, and we built up a long-term relationship with Philips based on trust." Philips is still a valued customer, but Roland has also managed to retain other customers from those early days at ENTER.
From there on, Roland expanded and created two private companies: ENTER Embedded and ENTER Technology. "I would still do many things myself," says Roland. "Answering the phone, making coffee, doing the dishes and the administration. I had become a jack-of-all-trades to keep things running." That was also when the traditions started. Roland: "At our first Christmas dinner, there were three of us at a table at Berlage, a grand café in Eindhoven. After five years or so, we started our annual trip to the Efteling amusement park. We're continuing to do these things after all these years."
"I've always looked for ways to make people happy or to surprise them, and traditions are also important to monitor and communicate ENTER's corporate DNA."
Roland Poesen / Founder
"I love those traditions," he continues. "I've always looked for ways to make people happy or to surprise them, and traditions are also important to monitor and communicate ENTER's corporate DNA. We have since added several traditions, such as our annual pub quiz, the company barbecue in the fall and our Christmas packages. Traditions help to preserve the organization's original DNA.”
Not just traditions are essential for preserving our original DNA. It is also important for everyone to know and live ENTER's core values. Roland adds: "I speak to everyone who is hired at the office. I think it is important for people to hear my story personally, to understand how we started and how they can act on it."
ENTER faced some challenges around 2008, but the financial crisis did not have much impact in hindsight. Roland offers further explanation: "We never had to let go of many people. I wouldn't have liked it either. Once you've chosen those people, you should continue to support them and show them you're confident."
"I often notice that people underestimate themselves and that techies sometimes cannot express themselves well or show that they are proud of their achievements. When you coach people and support them in this, they can do better and rise above themselves. I love watching that happen," said Roland. He adds: "Some employees have been here for a long time; they have gone through quite a development here. They have become much more self-assured."
Everything Roland says proves that he cares a lot about the people who work at ENTER, which is exactly why he started his business back in the days. "The appreciation is mutual. Some employees come to thank you with a bottle of wine because you had a nice assignment for them, and some people left and then came back. That makes me feel good; it energizes me. And it also feels good when others are satisfied with what we do. That creates word-of-mouth, and that's good for us."
It worked so well that ENTER kept growing. Only a couple of years before, Roland would be doing everything himself. "People started asking me about that and why I didn't hire anyone for the back office, but I just never thought about that. I just wanted to do a lot and, at the same time, minimize the costs. But once I got that support in the office, I couldn't imagine not having it."
ENTER has since developed, from that one-room office at the Kanaaldijk, via another, bigger, office in Son, and back to Eindhoven. "We have created our own place here that fits us like a glove. Here, too, everything has come together over the last twenty years. We have already celebrated several wonderful achievements, and now it is time for our twentieth anniversary. We do not yet know how we are going to celebrate precisely, because of the circumstances. But one thing is certain: it will be a great celebration!"