Farewell: Wim van Dijk’s Legacy at MODYN
There are few people who have gotten to help steer this company, let alone come along for almost the entire ride. Wim van Dijk, who’s been with us for 33-years, is one of them. Over the years, he’s seen us grow from a humble operation to a fully-fledged office. He saw our team expand and grow in expertise. He nurtured some of our biggest clients and worked on award-winning products that put our Dutch agency on the global stage.
Now, our partner and friend is embarking on a whole new (and well deserved) journey — retirement.
A true mobility design pioneer, Wim leaves behind a legacy portfolio that we’re proud to have been a part of. So in an exit interview of sorts, we sat down with Wim to talk about his decades-long career, learn about his favorite projects and reveal his most cherished memories.
When we spoke back in 2020, you told us about how you and Peter grew up in the ‘hippie’ era and wanted to make the world a better place. Looking back on your career, do you think you have?
“Maybe not in the way we thought we would when we were 30,” Wim laughed. “But, maybe in a small way, yes. I loved working in the mobility sector on projects like bikes for Gazelle and the railway because it did feel like we were making the world a little better. With our clients, I think we were able to be a small part of that. But I think the biggest thing is that we always kept the same intentions — looking towards sustainability and working that into our products when we could. I think that makes a difference.”
Your name and Gazelle go hand in hand around this office. How do you feel about your large body of work with them over the years?
“There are two parts to this — the people of Gazelle and the work of Gazelle. You know the people of Gazelle have changed a lot over the last 30-years, except one man who I’ve worked with the entire time! But, no matter who came in over the years, they loved working with us here. They often told me one of their favorite aspects of working with MODYN was the personal experience. And for me, it was the same.”
“The other part is the work, which was so much fun. You know, sometimes a design was so good they would seek 40-50,000 bikes a year — and that just felt great. One time I’ll never forget was when a design did so well that the director came and gave me a bottle of champagne. And I remember at that point, even though I was a partner, I wasn’t in direct contact with the director or anyone like that from Gazelle. So that gesture from him really meant something.”
What are some of your fondest memories of working at MODYN?
“I have so many memories with this team, but some of my favorites are the special trips and activities we have done with one another, like going to the Ardennes. There’s a real family feeling in our office, and I’ll never forget the relationships I’ve made here.”
“But, some of my favorite professional memories are from working with Gazelle. Now, most of the work we do is on the computer. But, there was a time when we had 200 Gazelle prototypes right here in the MODYN workshop — we would make all the stickers and the special colors and the big bosses would come in and look at everything. We worked really hard, but it was such a special time and this special design process.”
It’s hard to narrow down a 30-year career — but what would you say your favorite products or projects were over the years here at MODYN?
1. Building our office
“When we first started, we were just a few people in addition off of our founder, Peter van der Veer’s, house. We were this little company working from home. So in 2000, Peter and I invested in this property — it cost us about one-million Dutch guilders. And that was a lot of money for me at the time. Looking back, my youngest son was also born then! So, it was quite a busy time,” Wim laughed.
“Looking back I think, ‘it must have been so stressful,’ but in the moment we just made it work. And in the end it was the best decision for our business. We immediately became more serious. It was a huge, exciting change. In two years, we doubled our revenue.”
“Then in 2006, we expanded even further — blowing out the second floor and going from 50-square meters to now 700-square meters. There is so much more professional space here now, from our open office to our workshops. And you know, having this physical space really gave us the space to grow as a business, too. It’s such a big, important part of our history, and really one of my fondest memories. It was also fun to be on the other side of the process for once — since we hired architects to design the space. I am just really proud of this office. We are all really proud of this office.”
2. The Limited Edition Gazelle Eclipse King Fisher
“So each year with Gazelle we’d make these limited edition bikes — they’d have special colors and would feature something unique. One of my favorites has to be the King Fisher design for the Eclipse.”
“For this, our inspiration was fashion — I loved the idea that when you take off a jacket or pull down your trousers and there was this beautiful lining in there just for you to see. No one else knows its there, but you know it is, and it makes you feel good. So, for this bike, alongside the decals and such, there was also red paint under the wheel hubs and under the seat.”
“But really, anytime I’m in a city and I see someone on a bike I designed, I smile — that feeling will never get old. There’s even one bicycle where I hid my signature on it, and I can’t wait for the day when I can point it out to my grandkids and say, ‘Look! There’s grandpa’s secret signature on that bicycle!’”
3. The Gazelle Concept Vision Bike
“This was such a special bike. I didn’t work on this bike by myself — it was really a team effort to look into the future of bicycle design for Gazelle. This bike was really something new. The vision bike was totally integrated, creating a streamlined design that hid essential elements like bolts and brake lines.”
“And now, over a decade later, you can actually see a lot of ideas from this vision bike in Gazelle’s modern bikes. And that is amazing. You know, I also have such a history with the brand, so it was rewarding to be part of a project that would steer their future, too. But looking back, knowing I am a part of the history of Gazelle is a good feeling.”
Thank you for all your hard years of work and dedication, Wim!