“Bremer has a longstanding, great reputation,” says Dan Nagelkerke, who officially joined the Bremer team as general manager at the end of January. “This is a nice opportunity at this point in my career to help continue and build their success.”
Nagelkerke’s career has given him more than 35 years of experience—all of which are in the food and ingredient industries—in distribution with a strong knowledge of food service. When he saw the opportunity to become a part of the Bremer team, he immediately knew it would be a good fit, as Bremer’s values fit so closely to his own.
“I love the way Bremer takes care of its customers,” says Nagelkerke. “One of my strongest passions is taking care of customers, and I’ve focused my career on the customer experience. Being able to add to that culture at Bremer is exciting.”
The energy around the office and beyond has been refreshing as Nagelkerke gets familiar with his surroundings. His passion is inspiring those around him, and their energy is motivating him. The core staff of Tim Malefyt, Todd Gifford and Tracy VanDenbeldt will continue doing what they do best while working alongside Nagelkerke.
“I’ve been very warmly welcomed,” says Nagelkerke. “The staff has been helpful in training and teaching me how Bremer operates, while at the same time being open to new ideas to help grow our business now and in the future.”
Most of Nagelkerke’s career has been focused in Michigan and northern Indiana markets, and he’s thrilled to be fully immersed in the region, particularly considering he grew up just outside of Grand Rapids and has raised five children in the area.
“I understand the needs of these markets,” he says, “and after a couple years gaining experience in manufacturing, it’s nice to get back to the distribution business full-time.”
In his first few months, Nagelkerke could be spotted anywhere and everywhere Bremer operates, visiting warehouses, talking to customers, meeting with colleagues and tagging along with drivers on deliveries. Dan believes in truly getting to know his customer base inside and out: how they think and what they really want to make their business successful.
“When I was out riding with drivers,” he says, “I noticed what a great relationship they have with customers. Customers appreciate the attention to detail and service, and I’ve been pleased we have veteran truck drivers that are truly customer-focused. They’re real assets.”
Bremer has always counted having their own dedicated trucks as one of its most valuable advantages, and Nagelkerke immediately recognizes the value of that goes well beyond the convenience of merely having a dedicated trailer. It’s the long-term human relationships on which Bremer prides itself.
Not limited solely to ridealongs, Nageklerke has been using his first few months to learn every aspect of the business.
“I wanted to find out what everybody does and what their day-to-day needs are so I can get a better grip on how our company operates,” he says. “Getting to know customers and colleagues as people is extremely important in a business like ours.”
“A pleasant surprise for me has been the many different types of industries we service.”
Along those lines, Nagelkerke is actively working to determine any niche markets that might fit with Bremer, noting Bremer’s recent success servicing the beverage industry throughout Michigan. He intends to continue Bremer’s success dealing with a large customer base, but is there an opportunity to add a market to the portfolio?
“I spent my first several weeks getting to know our employees, customers, products, strengths and weaknesses,” he says, “and long-term, I want to seek what niches we can service. Is there something that might be a good fit for a company of our size and versatility?”
Nagelkerke’s commitment to customer service and desire to build on a company that is already focused on customers will undoubtedly propel Bremer’s success in the future.
“I enjoy working with customers and my goal over the years has always been to solve their problems,” he says. “I don’t intend to be in the office all the time, but also on the road, meeting, greeting and helping land more customers and growing our business.”