An Interview with Chris Van Der Kooi, General Manager of Van Wyk Electric

by | Oct 9, 2023 | electrical-wiring

Q 1. Introduction to Your Business?

Ans: Van Wyk Electronic was established to deliver specialist services and solutions in manufacturing switchboards, electrical contracting, and industrial processes.

Our key focus areas are the design, manufacture, installation and servicing of Motor Control Centres, Wet Panels, Instrumentation and Process Systems, UPS & D.C. Systems, Generator and control systems. Our team also offers preventative maintenance via Thermal imaging scanning, RCD testing, Power quality analysis, and measurement.

Being at the forefront of the electrical industry, VWE takes pride in maintaining long-standing customer relationships and alliances for the mutual benefit of customers and suppliers. Our customers are our business, and our employees are committed to ensuring that our customer’s needs are met with quality products and unparalleled engineering support.

Q 2. Brief Description of Yourself?

Ans: I pride myself on being level-headed and calm in most situations. My ability to make evidence-based decisions grounded in sound logic and moral principles is one of my core values.
As General Manager at Van Wyk Electric, I oversee the business operations and work with my team to ensure the required controls are in place to ensure business and regulatory compliance. With key experience in electrical design and project management, I help deliver projects to our key clients.
I have been representing the electrical industry as a Council Member of the NECA board since 2016, with a specific passion for ensuring the new generation of Contractors’ voices are heard. I’m also the Honorary Secretary of NESMA (Vic), assisting board builders and advancing the Australian Switchboard Industry.
I am extremely passionate about the electrical industry as it has been a source of fulfilment and opportunity for me over the past 25 years.

Q 3. Inspiration for Starting/Changing the Business?

Ans: The idea for Van Wyk Electric stemmed from a past employer selling to a large corporation and recognising the added red tape/bureaucracy not adding any value to the end customer. I recognised a critical need for a smaller player with the delivery of project solutions at the forefront (not a bunch of accountants studying WIP and COGS with endless spreadsheets and reporting. I was also keen to give small business ownership a go as I had heard of many success stories in the electrical industry, so I wanted to see if I could do it, too.

Q 4. Advice for Budding Entrepreneurs?

Ans: ◦ Continuous Learning: Never stop learning. Stay updated with industry trends and emerging technologies.
◦ Resilience: Embrace challenges and setbacks as learning opportunities. Perseverance is key.
◦ Customer-Centric Approach: Always prioritise understanding and meeting the needs of your customers.

Q 5. Top Three Skills for a Successful Entrepreneur?

Ans: ◦ Adaptability: Flexibility to pivot strategies and approaches as needed.
◦ Leadership: Effectively guide and inspire your team towards shared goals.
◦ Decision-Making: Make informed, timely decisions based on available information.

Q 6. Average Work Hours?

Ans: On average, work about 11 hours per day for the business but some weeks can be 80-90 hours if the need arises.

Q 7. Attribution of Success?

Ans: I don’t feel successful at the moment, but the progress to date is attributed to a combination of factors, including having a passionate team and a commitment to meeting client expectations. I also try to learn from others by listening to podcasts and watching videos on business and leadership.

Q 8. Marketing Strategies?

Ans: We mainly work with existing B2B clients with repeat business. We are now beginning a multi-faceted marketing approach, combining digital marketing, strategic partnerships, and targeted outreach.

Q 9. Funding/Capital and Investor Acquisition?

Ans: Van Wyk Electric is funded by personal funds with no external investors.

Q 10. Achieving Long-Term Success?

Ans: Long-term success is too early to tell yet, but I hope to get there through a combination of innovation, maintaining strong customer relationships, and adaptability to evolving market demands.

Q 11. Vision for 5-10 Years?

Ans: In 5-10 years, I envision Van Wyk Electric with expanded services and a larger footprint in the industry.

Q 12. Admired Company or Business?

Ans: I greatly admire Tesla’s technology and car industry disruption. I also look to Fortescue Future Industries for their Climate change and energy focus

Q 13. Importance of Good Employees

Ans: Good employees are the backbone of Van Wyk Electric. Their dedication and expertise play a pivotal role in our success.

Q 14. Duration of Idea Pursuit:

Ans: I believe in giving ideas a reasonable amount of time to prove their viability. However, I also recognise the importance of knowing when to pivot or explore new directions.

Q 15. Motivation?

Ans: The opportunity to impact our clients’ projects and businesses positively is a tremendous motivator. Additionally, the thrill of innovation and problem-solving drives me forward.

Q 16. Defining Success

Ans: Success is the current external reality divided by internal expectations. I.e. if we define a sales goal and achieve it, that is a success.
Or, for a less esoteric answer, it’s the pursuit of excellence in our field combined with the satisfaction of our clients and the growth of our business.

Q 17. Building a Customer Base?

Ans: Building a successful customer base requires a commitment to exceptional service, active listening to client feedback, and consistently delivering value.

Q 18. Favourite Aspect of Being an Entrepreneur?

Ans: The freedom to innovate and the ability to create positive change in the industry are the most fulfilling aspects of entrepreneurship.

Q 19. Satisfying Moment in Business?

Ans: One of the most satisfying moments was [mention specific moment], which showcased the impact of our work on a client’s operations.

Q 20. Entrepreneurial Culture?

Ans: At Van Wyk Electric, we foster a culture of inclusion. And aim to empower our staff to make decisions that positively affect themselves and the business.

Q 21. Characterising Life as an Entrepreneur?

Ans: Busy

Q 22. Career Restart?

Ans: I would invest more in innovation and streamlining manufacturing if I could start my career over. Or possibly in the industry of cars or personal transportation devices.

Q 23. Impact on Family Life?

Ans: Effective balancing of my work and personal time has been challenging; I’m constantly looking for ways to balance the 2.

Q 24. Greatest Fear and Managing Fear?

Ans: My greatest fear is self-doubt that I’m not good enough or that I don’t deserve success, and I manage it by meditation and reinforcement of all the good decisions and impacts hi have had to date.

Q 25. Location Selection for Business?

Ans: The location was chosen based on the availability of resources in Bayswater and being close to staff.

Q 26. Biggest Mistakes and Damage Control?

Ans: One of the biggest mistakes was ordering incorrect parts for a critical switchboard that was due to be installed the next day as part of a shutdown that couldn’t be changed, and we addressed it by air freighting parts in for another state (at great cost and stress).

Q 27. Hobbies and Non-Work Time?

Ans: In my non-work time, I enjoy going out for dinner and motorcycle riding.

Q 28. Happiness Source?

Ans: Making a positive impact through my work and spending quality time with friends and family brings me happiness.

Q 29. Sacrifices for Success?

Ans: Success often requires sacrificing a great deal of time and energy, but it’s all part of the journey.

Q 30. If you were conducting this interview?

Ans: I would ask fewer questions.

Company Detail:

Company : Van Wyk Electric
Contact : Chris Van Der Kooi
Address : Unit 1 / 8 Newcastle Road
City : Bayswater
State : VIC
Zip : 3153
Country : Australia
Phone : (03) 8719 6770
Email :

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