Meet Kiko Belhadj
28 March 2023
Who is Kiko Belhadj? Kiko is 38 years old, lives together and is father of 3 children, 1 girl aged almost 12 and 2 boys aged 4 and 5. In 2009, he moved to Rotterdam from Algeria. Since 2019, Kiko has lived in Zaltbommel. First, he lived in Rotterdam, which took up a lot of his time. Now that Kiko has moved, he has more time for his children and they can have breakfast and dinner together every day.
Why did you come to the Netherlands?
Kiko came here for love. He met his previous wife in Algeria and moved to the Netherlands with her. The relationship did not last, but now he lives very happily with his current wife in Zaltbommel.
How long have you been working at Paul Meijering?
Kiko has been working at Paul Meijering for 13 years and he still likes it. He enjoys going to work.
From warehouse employee to sales representative
In 2010, Kiko started as a temporary worker. The work would last for 3 weeks and the tasks were quite simple then. But after those 3 weeks, Kiko kept working and got more and more responsibilities. After 2 months, he and Jacco (warehouse manager) went to Paul Meijering to ask whether Kiko could get a temporary or a permanent contract. Kiko preferred a permanent contract and asked for one. Without knowing the details, he went to work on a permanent contract and hasn't looked at his contract since. 2 years ago, they found the ''lost'' contract again, but this was still from the temp agency. By now, of course, he has long since had a clearly drafted contract 😉 .
From 2010 to 2016, he worked in the warehouse. In the summer of 2016, a large batch was purchased by Paul Meijering to be offered to customers. After some discussions on how that batch would be sold, Kiko got the chance to sell the batch in question. After that, the switch to salesman was easily made. Paul Meijering, Johan Caspers and Paul van Duijnhoven saw something in Kiko. And they did not regret it. At the time, it was a bit of a shock for Kiko, because he didn't expect it. But now he is proud to be working in the sales department.
In sales, it is useful if you speak several languages. Which languages do you speak?
Kiko has a knack for languages, this is partly due to his childhood. Arabic, French, English, Polish and Dutch are the languages he speaks. Arabic, French and English he learned in his childhood in Algeria. His ex and current wife are Polish, but he did not learn Polish from them.
He learned to speak Polish through Tomek 's family. You may wonder who Tomek is? Tomek is warehouse manager of the Van Voordenpark location. Kiko developed a good relationship with Tomek and also eventually with his family. As Kiko says 'I was received very warmly'. He often visited but they could not speak Dutch. So Kiko learned to speak Polish. He had to sit at the table and join in the conversation. At the beginning, it was mainly asking a lot of questions. After 1 year, he could speak the basic words and over time his language got better and better. Now he is the point of contact for Polish customers.
Inoxdeals or 1st choice?
He says his heart lies with Inoxdeals, but certainly does not rule out 1st choice products. This is because with 1st choice, you have many different customers. Unlike working at Inoxdeals, you have higher volume, more cash turnover and the margins are different. Kiko also enjoys interacting with people from different cultures. The customers are 80% third-world countries, besides that you have a lot of Indians, Arabs, etc. That appeals to him a bit more.
Recently you have been to Dubai for work, what did you think of it?
First, he says it was very intense, followed by the question: why? 'You arrive in Dubai in the evening, and we went to sleep right away because it was a long journey. The next day the alarm went off early and we left the hotel at 8am. With luck, you then get back to the hotel around 10pm-23pm. But I am definitely not complaining. It was super educational and enjoyed the days in Dubai’.
The things Kiko learned is how the Emirati operate and what their mentality is. He had an image about the Emirates, but in reality it is more impressive. The Emirati are super friendly, you are always welcomed nicely and helped if there are any questions. Party traders are not as meticulous as traders here in the Netherlands. They have an unstructured way of working so they forget a lot of things. But in return, they are honest traders.
Kiko explains that you cannot make concrete agreements with the traders. E.g. if you ask for a packing list of a shipment, the question is not whether it will arrive, but when the shipment will arrive. For him it is not a problem, he was born in Algeria, so he is used to it. In addition, they were able to visit 3 companies, 6 traders for consignment trading, 2 factories and finally they went to some larger companies for 1st choice products.
Kiko with Paul van Duijnhoven in Dubai
Did you get more out of it than expected?
The answer was 'yes'. Besides learning about their working methods and mindset, he also learned a few other things. First, he learned a lot about importing and exporting from Dubai to other Arab countries. In fact, different rules apply there. Next, he learned how they export/import to the Far East. Thirdly, what kind of traders there are. And finally, Kiko learned how the port works. Thanks to Paul Meijering, he was able to gain a lot of knowledge. Paul has been coming to the Emirates for a long time, and he already has the necessary knowledge about how things work there.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Kiko likes to drink a beer, he says, laughing. Now all jokes aside. Kiko is a real family man. He enjoys spending time with his children and likes to spend a lot of time with his family. Apart from that, friends are also important. He would rather do something with his family/friends than sit alone watching TV.