1939 was a year of extremes. It marked the beginning of the Second World War on September 1st, but also the end of the Spanish Civil War, the debut of nylon stockings and the first publication of Batman. On Curaçao, an enterprising gentleman by the name of Adrianus Kooijman founded on November 20 1939 a modest carpentry. And with dedication and entrepreneurship the company grew and expanded to be a leading retailer in building materials, hardware and home improvement.
A family business since 1939
Adrianus’ firstborn son, Bastiaan Kooijman, started working with his father in 1968. Over a period of seven years, he became acquainted with every single aspect of the business and then proceeded to become the managing director in 1975. Through 75 years of history, Kooyman has seen ups and downs, and overcome many obstacles. Driven by a firm belief in service and quality, and thanks to its loyal customer base, the company managed to thrive and even expand to other islands.
Today, along with his brother and sister, Bas Kooijman is still a major shareholder of Kooyman B.V. It has remained a true family business after all these years and now even employs several of Adrianus’ grandchildren. After being the face of the company for almost forty years, Bas Kooijman withdrew from his CEO position in 2007 and is now chairman of the executive board. Herbert van der Woude, former CFO, is Bas Kooijman’s successor as the company’s general manager.
The history of Kooyman CuraÇao
Kooyman has become such an integral part of Curaçao culture that a street was named after it on the occasion of its 50th anniversary: Kaya Kooyman in Dominguito. On its 75th anniversary Kaya Kooyman is officially renamed to Kaya Adrianus (Ad) Kooyman. Nowadays the yard serves as a storage depot for building materials and the office is used by Fun Miles, the Caribbean’s largest customer reward program.
In 1961, Kooyman Santa Maria was opened on Winston Churchillweg to bring Kooyman closer to the people of Banda Abou. This turned out to be a great success, which is why Kooyman Santa Rosa followed in 1964 to better serve the Banda Ariba area.
In 1988 Kooyman inaugurated its Zeelandia location after it acquired the company Latra. Expanding to a Kooyman Megacenter, with a Megastore, Home Décor, Kooyman Techniek and Gifts & Garden in the years 2000, Kooyman chooses in 2010 to go back to its core business; building materials, hardware and home improvement. After a complete renovation of the building the new Megastore is re-opened in 2011. With more products, more services to offer in a spacious and comfortable shopping experience. The renovation of Kooyman Megastore is completed with the opening of the renewed Drive Thru in 2014. Zeelandia is also the location of the distribution center from where a large part of the merchandise is distributed across the islands.
Kooyman’s main office, the heart of its operations for all four islands, is on the top floor of the Megastore, housing approximately 70 employees.
The history of Kooyman Aruba
Herman Steenhuizen is the man who deserves credit for bringing Kooyman to Aruba. As soon as he joined the Kooyman organization in 1965, he purchased an existing N.V., which was called Antiliaanse Handel Maatschappij, or simply Antil N.V. This is the reason that Kooyman on Aruba went by the name of Antil until as long as 2004.
On July 1st of 1965, Herman opened the first Aruba location in a rented warehouse on Fergusonstraat 22, currently known as Avenida Milio Croes. In 1967, two additional buildings were rented on Weststraat, where the construction of a new facility started in the following year. This included a two-story building with ample shopping area, a big warehouse and a separate wood depository.
A huge change arrived in 2004. Antil was renamed to Kooyman Aruba, and the company moved to two new locations: the first store in Dakota, and the second one in San Nicolas. Thanks to drastically lowered prices, a wider assortment of products, and the introduction of the Fun Miles loyalty program, the Aruban community now had a better Kooyman than ever before.
In 2011, Kooyman San Nicolas closed down and the Dakota store moved to the first Kooyman Megastore in Primavera. Introducing a brand new retail format to be able to service the contractors and DIY-ers even better with an even wider range of products and services, as well as a spacious drive-thru.
The history of Kooyman Bonaire
Although Kooyman had already been doing some business with clients on Bonaire, it wasn’t until 1958 that it truly established a foothold when it co-founded the Rincon Trading Company.
The simple fact that quality construction materials were now readily available on the island had a huge impact on the small community. It even caused a massive building boom: many houses were built and quickly sold at a profit.
The Kooyman carpentry factory also thrived. When it had delivered a series of beautiful card tables to the legendary Hotel Bonaire, orders started pouring in. The government of Bonaire, for example, commissioned Kooyman to produce the wooden furniture for its classrooms.
In 1982, Kooyman became part of Bonaire’s ‘General Store’ company, until the Kooyman Holding managed to acquire all shares in 1991. In September of 2000, the name was changed to Kooyman Bonaire.
The history of Kooyman St. Maarten
Kooyman opened its St. Maarten location in 2006, making this the youngest member of the family of Kooyman stores. Kooyman is glad to finally have a presence on the Leeward Islands, offering a great selection of products and services, and proud to have created approximately 45 jobs, largely for local workers.
Like on Curacao and Aruba, St. Maarten introduced the Drive-Thru concept to the island, being the first to offer this quick and easy way to purchase building materials.