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Interview with Theo Velis

Have you always wondered how Theo built DDM? We asked Theo to tell us something about that. Talking about the past and his wonderful company, leave that to Theo! End result: a beautiful story, you can tell Theo still works with energy and passion every day.

Theo says:

When I was 15 years old, I started working for an earthmoving importer. I worked four days a week and went to school one day a week and obtained my diesel motor vehicle mechanic's degree. I also went to evening school, where I obtained my diplomas in electric welding and hydraulics. I worked at that company for two years.

With this experience and some diplomas in my pocket, I started working at a demolition company. My father worked at this demolition company and I wanted that too. Taking something apart neatly, large complex works, such as bridges, power stations and so on. I started on a mobile demolition excavator and then on a (then large) crawler machine. After two years I had to do military service for 18 months, which I served with great pleasure. After my military service, I returned to the demolition company, where I went through and experienced all disciplines. Both manual demolition and on demolition excavators, also on the crane with the demolition ball and furthermore as a foreman, executor, project leader and eventually I became deputy director. I also got my jumping diplomas here. I have blown up many large buildings and chimneys, especially in Limburg. I left this company in 1990, although it was not easy.

I haven't been to the clients of my old employer for a year. Despite not having a non-competition clause, I didn't think that was appropriate. It was not easy to get back to the level I was used to. My old employer had everything you could think of available and if it wasn't there, it was bought! I was back to square one.

The first job I took on was manually scooping out spaces under the ground floor of the University Hospital in Utrecht. There I could use all our equipment, namely three shovels and two wheelbarrows. Everywhere I went people said: it's great that you are doing this, this is a great challenge. As soon as you have carried out some work independently as a DDM, you are very welcome again. We want to see your references.

I started to understand the chicken and the egg story, without one I couldn't get the other.

The wall in East Germany had fallen, so we took on our first major work there.
30,000 tons of scrap and 150,000 m³ of solid concrete. Because of this job I was able to buy the first large equipment. I also had support from a few other companies, for which I am still grateful. From Germany back to the Netherlands, from the Netherlands to Belgium and from Belgium to France. Now we act all over the world and have worked in all corners of the world. We always go along with our customers. We never let our customers down and realize what they ask for.

Our first customers are: BSR Germany, DSM, ESSO, NS and the Centrale in Utrecht, the then Reliant, now NUON.
We now work for more than 200 large companies, including many multinationals.

When I started, a few things were very important to me:
Safety and quality,
Good colleagues and good customers who suit you with mutual trust.
A good atmosphere means you enjoy going to work and that gives you a “we” feeling.

With a good team we have built DDM into what it is today. A specialist company that carries out projects all over the world such as: demolition, remediation, dismantling, moving and assembly. We are also strong in trade; we buy complete plants, power stations, factory inventories, steel mills and so on. We now process an average of 100,000 tons of scrap per year and this is all recycled and converted into new building materials.

All projects are engineered by our business office in consultation with the client.
We find a solution for everything. Can't doesn't exist. We do this with a good team in collaboration with the client.

Everything is for sale, but not a well-experienced team, which must be built up.
We have a good and experienced team. Professionals who enjoy their work.
I have not achieved this alone, but with all DDM employees and I am proud of that!