Ken Vanderlaan

Warehouse/Tools Manager

I’m 67 years old now, and I’ve been working at Windemuller for 33 years, which means I’ve spent just about half my life here.

Funnily enough, it was stability I was looking for when I came here in the late ‘80s. I’d started my career as a self-employed bricklayer, only to end up casting around for a full-time job a few years later when my wife (smartly) realized we’d probably want things like a steady paycheck and insurance benefits if/when we wanted to start a family.

Despite my initial search for a good, stable, full-time job, though, my first two employers both ended up going belly up – the first a factory, the second a conveyor company. As fate would have it, though, my role at the second business required that I interface with our go-to electrical contractor – a company called Windemuller – on a regular basis. When the conveyor company went out of business, my boss reached out to Mark Windemuller about finding a place for me. I took an interview, hit it off with Mark, and was working at Windemuller a few days later.

At Windemuller, I ended up finally finding that stability I’d been seeking. When Mark hired me, he told me, “You’ll never be laid off,” and that sounded really good to me. He was just about right: I was never laid off until COVID came along and forced a three-week shutdown. I won’t fault Mark for not foreseeing a global pandemic, though!

More than just the stability, I came to love Windemuller for the job and the team. My work, as the go-to maintenance man, not only gave me a varied workload – handling maintenance for buildings, vehicles, and tools alike – but also gave me a unique perspective to watch this company evolve. When I came to Windemuller, we still only had one branch (in Grandville), a fleet of 4-5 service vans, and a tool arsenal that mostly fit into those vans. Today, we have seven locations, a much larger and more expansive vehicle fleet, and more tools than I can count. Needless to say, my role looks a bit different today than it did back then!

Another thing I’ve watched over the years? The guys who I worked with and came up with slowly reaching retirement age and stepping back to spend more time with their families. Now, it’s my turn to do just that. I’m looking forward to slowing down a bit, hopefully refocusing myself on entertaining my grandkids, maybe taking them fishing every once in awhile. But I’ll always love Windemuller for the stable, rewarding, ever-evolving career it gave me. It was the right place to land, and a mighty good way to spend 33 years.