16 November 2020 | Interview
Take exit 7 on the A9 towards Amsterdam Osdorp (S106) and you’ll soon see it: McDonald’s Amsterdam Osdorp Drive. Cees van der Veldt, the manager, loves being involved with the community at Business Park Amsterdam Osdorp.
From mechanic to Mac
Cees started off as a car mechanic, then went on to work for Shell for many years. During a Shell promotion for a free hamburger at McDonald’s, he met one of the company’s franchise owners. By the end of conversation, he knew what he wanted to do: run his own McDonald’s restaurant. He started in 1999, which was good timing, Cees reckons, because he thinks that if you want to start your own business, you need to do it before you hit 40.
There are 110 people working at the McDonald’s branch at Amsterdam Business Park Osdorp (BPAO), and the average age is 25. Cees says he really enjoys working with young people because they have a fresh perspective and are keen to learn. All 11 members of the management team started out as crew members – Cees has never hired a manager externally.
Cees believes that it’s important to have a good relationship with people in the local area. Fast food restaurants are often surrounded by litter – bad for the environment, and a nuisance not only for the immediate neighbours and other companies at Business Park Amsterdam Osdorp, but also for the residents of Amsterdam’s De Aker neighbourhood, which is next to the business park. McDonald’s works hard to combat litter. Every day a cleaner heads outside to clear up, both in the grounds of the McDonalds and in the surrounding area. A litterfree environment is so important to McDonald’s that it has signed a pledge about it, along with the Shell filling station, other companies at BPAO and local residents.
One of the agreements in the pledge is joint participation in the National Clean-up Day, when the local businesses and residents get together to pick up litter. There’s no shortage of enthusiasm – this year no fewer than 80 people took part. McDonald’s does its best to cut down on packaging and make it more sustainable – paper straws, no more lids on cups, as little plastic as possible – and to collect, sort and recycle all the waste.
As an organisation, McDonald’s is contributing to a better society in which everyone participates. At the restaurant at BPAO, this is reflected in the policy of employing and guiding people who are disadvantaged in the labour market. McDonald’s also took part in a project to help refugees find jobs. A group of Syrian refugees worked at the restaurant, and this proved to be a great success.
Businesses and site owners at BPAO have joined forces to form the Amsterdam Osdorp Management Association, of which Cees is chairman. The association deals with issues ranging from safety and infrastructure to green space and recreation – an area Cees is keen to develop. He’d like to increase the appeal of BPAO by providing more leisure facilities
Cooking for Kids
Through McDonald’s, Cees is involved in ‘Cooking for Kids’, an event to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House at the VUmc hospital in Amsterdam. The last edition raised 110,000 euros.
Lending a hand
Cees does have his own office, but he can usually be found in the restaurant. It’s a great place for a business meeting, a conversation with the staff or a chat with guests about the new burgers and whether there’s anything that could be improved. When it’s busy, Cees lends a hand in the kitchen or wipes down the tables.
Favourite at McDonald’s
The Veggie McChicken with fries.