What was it like working at FRIS, 70 years ago?

By Leontine van Kampen (32)

“Did you know that FRIS currently employs almost 90 people?” Ms Grimbergen looks up: “You can’t be serious! In my time, there were only 25 employees working there”. So began my interview with Mrs Grimbergen (93). Topic: Almost 100 years of FRIS. Ms Grimbergen worked at FRIS from age 18, until she was 25. The interview focuses on a key question: ‘What was it like working at FRIS, 70 years ago?’

“Back then, rent was still paid weekly. When I worked there, rental payments were even sent in cash, by mail.”

A true native of the Zaan region, Ms Grimbergen lives in Zaandam and is still insured through FRIS. On our arrival, her photo album lay ready. So we dived straight into history. She showed us beautiful, black-and-white photos of the first FRIS office on Provincialeweg in Zaandam, and of the 25th anniversary of FRIS, among others. Ms Grimbergen was in charge of rent administration at FRIS. “Back then, rents were still paid weekly. I experienced the time when the Netherlands switched to monthly rental administration. In my time, rental payments were often sent in cash, in the mail. You probably can’t imagine that, Leontine?”, Mrs. Grimbergen asks, laughing.

To the question ‘What has stayed with you most, about your job at FRIS?’, Ms Grimbergen answers immediately, “The 25th anniversary of FRIS! I remember the anniversary well. It was held at the American Hotel, on Leidseplein, in Amsterdam. It was a huge party, attended by hundreds of estate agents and the major real estate organisations. It was clear that Mr Fris was a well-known and established estate agent. So many business contacts attended that an additional room had to be opened for the party. Wonderful!”

Ms Grimbergen worked under the direction of Wouter Fris. He founded FRIS in 1923 and is the grandfather of Hans Peter Fris. “Wouter Fris was an open and approachable man who was always there for his clients. I look back fondly on my job at FRIS. I always thought Wouter Fris was a nice boss, well dressed, and his great passion for his work was remarkable.”

 “Wouter Fris was an open and approachable man, who was always there for his clients. I look back on my job at FRIS with great pleasure.”

Meanwhile, a 3rd Fris generation is at the helm
FRIS experienced major growth over the past quarter century under the leadership of Hans Peter Fris and continues to adapt to the needs of a changing market. The similarities between Ms Grimbergen’s experiences and my own, after working at FRIS for five years, but three generations later, are striking. The passion for the work is still a noticeable part of FRIS culture. We still always go that extra mile to relieve our customers of any concerns. Whether through innovation or, for instance, personal contact. And the culture is still open, professional and very enterprising. Which is why I’ve enjoyed my work as marketing & communications manager at FRIS over the last five years.