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From DJ Ron behind the turntable, to Chief Experience Officer at his own company. Often enough you hear of people turning their hobby into their work. However, Ron Haans did not only make it his job, but also that of more than a hundred others. Today, First Impression has long crossed national borders, but Tilburg will still always be its home base. "We're not leaving Tilburg. It's our city and we're proud of it!" But whether there is also enough experience to be found in the city center? Ron definitely has an unfiltered opinion on that.
Photo's: RAWCAT Media
Ron Haans started First Impression 24 years ago out of passion for music. He played together with his good friend Nivar Klijsen as a DJ duo on many a Tilburg party. It it all started in the basement of his parental home in Oisterwijk though. Ron had built a drive-in show there with a rental division of professional light and sound equipment. "When I was 22 years old, I moved back to Tilburg and never left. I studied general business knowledge for another six months in Tilburg, but I soon knew that I wanted to start with First Impression." Meanwhile, First Impression is celebrating its 24th year of success this year. "You could say that this concept has evolved considerably over the years," laughs Ron. "The common thread we have is that we are still all about experience. Back then it was the experience of music at parties, now it is the experience of smell, sound, lighting and especially a lot of screens and digital content. With First Impression we provide visual communication for many major brands such as Rituals, Basic-Fit and Coolblue. We also support Tilburg events such as Hap Stap and Festival van het Levenslied."
The starting and ending point is always Tilburg
In those 24 years, did Ron ever have any doubts? Yes definitely, he explains. "I always said that I never wanted more than 100 employees, but we have surpassed that limit by now. We looked for a way to keep it manageable. One thing that was certain is that we didn't want to do it in a traditional way. Not a top-down organization, but one where the employees are put in the centre. We are always looking for people who are smarter than us in certain fields. That's why we opened a second office in Amsterdam to recruit even more specialists, because that's how we all get better. But the headquarters will always remain in Tilburg." Meanwhile, First Impression consists of 130 driven employees who work in an office that many people can only dream of. "The starting point of First Impression is always Tilburg. From our city, we want to conquer the world. The installations are already up and running in 40 countries, so we are well on our way." Ron says he gets inspiration from all over the world, but in Tilburg all the ideas come together again. "With a beer in hand at the Piushaven, everything can fall into place."
Thinking outside of the box and seeing opportunities
The events branch is also at a standstill at First Impression, but Ron proudly talks about setting up their new studios and seeing opportunities. "Every day, wonderful clients come here to use our two streaming studios in our building. In addition, we have a studio in the Faculty Club in collaboration with Bonheur and with Vel'Or Studio Westergas in Amsterdam.
One industry that suffered a lot less from the corona crisis was supermarkets, because they were allowed to remain open. And that is exactly where Ron saw opportunities. "At the moment we are pitching our idea to various supermarket chains. Together we are helping supermarkets to combat food waste and to bring more experience to the consumer. Hopefully we will have a nice update on this soon! Then as an entrepreneur, I'll be really proud that we've made such a move."
There's always room for more experience, uh improvement
"When I look at where Tilburg comes from, I can really only be proud of the city and what we have achieved in the past year. Tilburgers rather like to complain about their own city, while they eventually don't leave either. Personally, I can laugh about that. Look at the Piushaven. 5 years ago you didn't dare to walk around there, now it's a place where the best ideas can come together. Tilburg is doing more than okay, but there is always room for improvement", says Ron. For example, as far as Ron is concerned, more attention should be paid to the experience in the city center, such as illuminated facades and large screens in prominent places. "In the Netherlands, this development is still held back by the argument that there would be too much light pollution, but if you look at Hong Kong at night, you see a big light show. And yes, that may be a bridge too far, but we can certainly learn something from it." As far as we're concerned, a great plan. After all, we want to highlight the gems in the city, don't we? Tilburg City Council, are you reading this? We would like to help you!
Unfiltered opinions of the people of Tilburg
Within this section, we give creative people from Tilburg a stage. A ticket to... the expression of their unfiltered opinion about the city. Are you curious who else has something to say about Tilburg besides Ron Haans? Then read these interviews:
- Chris Oomes: ‘Black and white, lots of contrast, with a story or a wink.’
- Rob van Trier: ‘Rob van Trier wants to catch the light of Tilburg.’
- Marc Storms: ‘Taking the strolling slats.’
- Ruud Lemmen: 'The sound of Tilburg is outspoken.'
- Tim Henrik Scheider: 'Building mazes means having my whole life in order.'
- Lois de Jong: ‘This is a typical city that suits me. The plants are starting to grow.’
- Lotte de Laat: ‘Lotte portrays Tilburg’
- Anja Reinhardt: ‘Unfiltered Anja Reinhardt.’
- Ruud van Eeten: ‘Now it's the Reeshof's turn!’
- Rob van Steen: 'At Theaters Tilburg we think even smarter than your supermarket around the corner.'
- Ron van Gestel: 'Tilburg is by far the ice hockey capital of the Netherlands.'
- Stefan van Aarle: 'Tilburg, dare to show more urbanity.'
- Hans van Dongen: ‘The filter is coming off at our new city photographer 2020: Hans van Dongen.'
- Fiona Zachariasse: ‘The Tilburger can be more proud of the city.’
- Magic van Heeswijk: ‘I really think Tilburg is a city for skateboarders.’
- Joris van Corven: ‘More opportunities for entrepreneurs to showcase themselves.’
- Michel Deneef: 'With us, not 1.5 meters away, but 1.5 meters of Villa Pastorie experience.'
- Joep van Gassel: ‘We are becoming more and more well-known as a city, but we also have to stay raw.’
- Jet van Baast: "Tilburg is carnival and carnival is Tilburg"
- Tim Frenken: “10 years ago they didn't understand why I went to Tilburg, that's different now.”
- Piet van Dycke: "I hope Tilburg continues to dream."
- Theo Misiedjan: “Tilburg is the city of urban culture."
- Stefan Jansen: "Let's take the lead together to alleviate poverty in Tilburg. Then I am really proud."
- Marcel Kattestaart: "My wish for Tilburg in 2021? That we get out of the construction pits one day!"
- New city photographer of Tilburg 2021 Angelique Cornelissen goes for connection