Bennie Nitert (71) retired: 'Everyone should have the chance to choose their own retirement age'

Powerspex will wave goodbye to Bennie Nitert on Jan. 1, 2024. The senior electrical engineer is retiring just before his 72nd birthday. "The vacations are to blame," he said.

It took a long vacation to come to the realization that he really wanted to quit working after all. "For more than two months I was off. I traveled, did things near home and when I returned to work, I couldn't find my bearings. Is it because of the vacations, I still thought, but suddenly I realized: this is a good time to quit."

That will happen now. "Until my retirement, I complete as many projects and things as I can. Since most projects here are never finished or take years to complete, I had to pick a date. January 1 is a great time."

We look back. How did you end up at Powerspex?

"I knew Jan Wilmink from Stork. At the time, we worked together on a project at ARN in Nijmegen. He as project manager, I as electrical engineer. That project went better than many had predicted and the contacts have remained ever since.
When Powerspex was founded, I was engaged through VIRO for a large project in Singapore. That was about 20 years ago now. Powerspex was still small. Jan, Frans and Evert at the helm and it was waiting for the big projects on Spinelstraat, like the one in Singapore."

Were they very different times than now?

"And or. The big projects came but the company was not yet set up for them. There wasn't even a copier. 'You go to Arens for that,' Marian van Gils told me. Just rent one of those machines, I said. The projects are that big. It was indeed a good investment. Remember that copying was a lot harder in those days than it is now. We had to copy with light machines for photocopying; it took hours. Also cutting, folding ... There were companies that had special departments for that."

When did you enter the service?

"In total, I have been involved with Powerspex for about 20 years. It wasn't until I reached retirement age that I joined Powerspex. I greatly admire Jan Wilmink for buying back 'his' company. An incredibly courageous step. He could have just quit but he didn't."

In fact, why didn't you just retire when you could?

"I wanted to continue for a few more years and Powerspex gave me that opportunity. That really doesn't happen at every company. I think everyone should be able to decide for themselves when they want to retire. That should be a right.
Look, you can see work as something that is mandatory. But you can also look at it differently. The money you earn from your work is a necessity but not the most important thing. Work also has another function and that is sometimes forgotten. If you do nothing, you have a meaningless existence. If you are on a desert island, life is hopeless. People need the feeling that they are useful, that they can mean something. Those who have no purpose go crazy. People need contacts. And a good feeling. Can you handle your work physically and mentally? Then you should be able to continue doing your hobby - sorry, I mean work."

That was a nice slip of the tongue.

"Yeah right? If you think: I have to go on when I don't want to, you have a hard life. And I call it hobby."

Well Powerspex must be looking for a replacement for you.

"They're definitely going to do that. I don't feel indispensable and there are so many good guys who can do this work. The future is up to others; not me. I hope they do well. That they will enjoy doing this work and that it will be successful.
Sometimes the work is hectic though. Time pressure, materials that are late, demanding customers. The thing is to find the right balance between work pressure and relaxation. Especially companies that get bigger, like Powerspex, have to pay close attention to their employees, but fortunately I feel that they do."

Has your profession changed over the years?

"Sure. I'm a senior electrical engineer now. Which used to be structural engineer. That used to be done at different levels by different people. Now there are only basic engineering and detail engineering and we deal with the whole process, from design to engineering. We just don't have to make it ourselves.
Jan Wilmink used to give new customers a tour of the building. And this is the drawing room,' he would say. That would make me a little angry. Our group does so much more."

What moments of 20 years of Powerspex do you like to look back on?

"I loved the anniversary weekend to Vlieland. Really a milestone. Once we went to Amsterdam for a day; also great. And to the Beekse Bergen of course, what a fantastic stay. At Powerspex everything is celebrated well. Compliments to Gerrie de Vries on how she organizes it all."

How will you enjoy retirement?

"I play bass guitar and we recently formed a band. It shouldn't really have a name, but we just call it the R&B band; the rock 'n blues band.
Besides that, I like to hike. I would love to go into the mountains again with my sons, but I also like to hike close by. Most Saturdays I walk from the Borkeld nature reserve near Markelo to home in Enter. Those are trips of about 12 to 14 kilometers. It is beautiful and you come across all kinds of things. Even a wolf, about a year and a half ago. He was chasing a deer that escaped.
Other than that, there is plenty to do in the house and garden, which I enjoy doing. And now I also finally have time for the jobs I get asked for in the neighborhood; mostly technical stuff."

Bennie, Powerspex congratulates you on your upcoming retirement. Enjoy.

"Thank you very much. It will definitely work out. I will miss the contacts with colleagues, though."