Jan Keezer; the rich history of a “messenger house”
Mr. Jan Keezer founded the company of the same name on July 1, 1916. It was a coming and going of boatmen and shippers on the Achterdam in Zaandam. The office ship was moored there, the “lighter” from which Jan Keezer operated. The company was a brokerage firm between skippers and factories. Ships entering the hinterland via the IJsselmeer took the cargo with them to the factories in the Zaan region. Twenty, thirty ships maintained services with Jan Keezer. The messenger house ordered them to visit which factory. This was often done by sending a postcard on which the order was stated. All major factories in the Zaan region were part of the customer base. Jan Keezer was a household name in the Zaan region and the largest of its kind in the region.
Jan Keezer was taken over by Mr P.A in 1924. Smit, the grandfather of the current owner. The name Jan Keezer was retained to avoid confusion: the Smit family was a true family of skippers and there were a few transport companies that carried the name “Smit”. Mr. Smit made Jan Keezer the Zaandam bodecenter where many trucks came to load and unload every day, in addition to the turn skippers. This was often quite a maneuver on the Achterdam. The municipality of Zaandam recognized the importance of Jan Keezer and had a new bodecenter developed at the Wilhelminasluis. The office ship moved from the Achterdam to the Bodecentrum. The walboss lived with his family in the foreground. The upper part was designed as an office and there was also the warehouse. The site of the bodecenter was spacious but storage options were missing: a small part could be in the “warehouse” of Princess Beatrix, but most of the goods were put on the quay. With a tarpaulin over it and a rope around it; that was still possible then.
Due to the increase in the number of (own) trucks, the ever-decreasing accessibility in the center of Zaandam and the plans of the municipality of Zaanstad to establish the Zaantheater at the former bodecentrum, the company moved to the Achtersluispolder in 1994. The 90th anniversary was celebrated here in 2006. In 2009 the company moved again: now to the Ambacht in Oostzaan.
All those years the management has passed from father to son; in 1945 Mr. W.A.J. Smit joined the management, followed in 1987 by his son, the current director, Mr P.A.H. Smit.