The beginning of M+P – 2. Alexander von Meier, director from the very beginning (23/50)
When Dr. Alexander von Meier, Alex to his M+P colleagues, returned from South Africa in the early 1970’s; at the time he was ready to put his acoustic training and experience into the European sound industry. He was introduced to Müller-BBM by his former professor Dr. Cremer during the International Congress on Acoustics in Budapest. They were immediately impressed by his knowledge and experience. So much so that when they bought a majority share of the Dutch A. Melzer M.Sc. agency in October 1972, they appointed Alex as director without hesitation to take care of business in Amstelveen.
“I was happy to take on the challenge as long as I could also be part of the financial story. I entered with a minority interest of 25% of the shares, but with the right of veto. Müller-BBM retained the remaining 75% of the shares. After a period of 3 months training at Müller-BBM, during which I received intensive training on the Dutch language and the necessary business matters, I was ready to take over Abraham Melzer’s customers.”
What makes a good director for us?
An M+P director is first and foremost an advisor devoted to the profession. Someone who speaks and breathes acoustics and technology. The management tasks are important too; but they only take up part of the time and are preferably distributed. M+P consciously chose a director who can be involved in projects. This trend has been convincingly set by director Alexander von Meier from the very beginning. He understood the technology and loved nothing more than pioneering; moreover, he was great at networking with the various stakeholders. He had contacts everywhere and knew how to use them. For example, Alex personally took a piece of test asphalt to the Ministerie van Volkshuisvesting, Ruimtelijke Ordening en Milieubeheer (VROM) [Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment] to ram the point home that to prevent noise pollution, it is best to tackle the problem at source. In return, Alex was often invited to contribute ideas about noise regulations.
“Besides working with existing clients, I had plans to provide the government with advice. Alex von Meier 1987 I saw that my old fellow students around Den Bosch had established good contacts with the German government and were being permitted to work out a German noise pollution law. Noise pollution was a much-discussed topic in the Netherlands at the time as well, and I found that very interesting.
The DNA of M+P
M+P has a corporate culture characterised by a limited hierarchy. Everything we do here is done dynamically. We make a connection between practice, environmental issues and (emerging) legislation. We take our curiosity and interest in how something works and combine it with a practical attitude in order to develop solutions that contribute to a better living environment.
Alex set a great example about how to do this from 1972 to 1996. The question now is: is this M+P DNA a spontaneously occurring phenomenon that arose because we are all fans of technology and happen to have similar ideas about it? Or was it already in place at the start thanks to Alex?
“It was a bit of both. It would not have been possible if I had not pushed my initiatives forward; but equally, it would not have been possible without my colleagues. This probably played a role during job interviews, but not consciously. I think the employees who suited us were drawn to our way of working for a reason. I would also like to mention another important characteristic of our DNA: socialising and celebrating. It’s a very important part of it as far as I’m concerned, and we’ve been very successful in that regard!”
Alex resigned from his M+P management duties in 1996 after 24 years as director to make way for the next generation. As he often said: “You can't get in the way of young people.” But that didn’t mean contact was lost. Colleagues working on a project in Sperenberg near his new home near Berlin were very welcome to drop by for a cup of coffee. And he has visited us regularly. The last time was during the barbecue held to celebrate M+P’s 45th anniversary. And every year on 1 October, he still sends a card that reads: “Congratulations, do you remember me?”
The connectionof a group of "stubborn engineers"The same DNA has also been established with the following generations of directors. With Chris Nierop, Gijsjan van Blokland, and the current directors, Ard Kuijpers, Jan Hooghwerff and Theodoor Höngens, who have divided the management tasks among themselves. Over the years, M+P has grown into a healthy company with 35 employees. Each advisor has his own network and takes care of the assignments coming in from these individual networks. But to ensure a tech company like ours remains successful, you can't be satisfied with just winning contracts, you have to look ahead as well. We consciously invest a lot of time and energy into future themes and projects to build up our knowledge and expertise so we are ready when the market demands it. This ensures we are and will remain pioneers!