Celebrating an anniversary and reuniting with former colleagues

On 22 October, following the Membrane Conference, Wafilin Systems organised a reunion to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wafilin name. On this day, colleagues, former colleagues and other valued associates visited Wafilin Systems to reminisce about old times, learn about Wafilin Systems’ present-day activities and get to know the current staff and WaterCampus facilities.

The atmosphere was fantastic right from the start. “Hey, Jan! Wonderful to see you again after such a long time!” guests said while entering the cloakroom, after having their QR codes scanned and securing their name badges to their chests. As they enjoyed their coffee, the first stories about the old days could already be heard. Wafilin Systems’ CEO Henk Schonewille started things off with a word of welcome. Then Harry van Dalfsen, the company’s founder and Technical Director, took everyone on a journey through the highlights of the past fifty years, offering a glimpse of the ways in which membrane technology has developed during that time. From the underwear used to create the first membranes, to water so polluted it could be set it on fire, he didn’t miss a trick. Finally, R&D Manager Jos van Dalfsen presented various recent projects to give attendees a general idea of Wafilin Systems’ current developments and innovations.

To be able to explain these activities in more detail, the Masters in Membrains then led them on a tour through the laboratories and Wafilin Systems’ office, which had been set up with demonstration examples and pictures of ongoing projects carried out for clients such as Royal Avebe, Sensus and Attero.

Harry’s moment in the limelight

The afternoon’s programme continued with drinks and was opened by Henk Schonewille. Several additional guests had been invited to join in this part of the programme as a special surprise for Harry van Dalfsen. Henk introduced Hilde Tjeerdema, alderman for the municipality of Leeuwarden, who spoke a few words about the company’s founder. Harry has worked with membranes for almost fifty years and was co-creator of the name Wafilin, together with four colleagues. Following various mergers, Harry relaunched the company as Wafilin BV in 2004, setting up business at the WaterCampus in Leeuwarden. Hilde Tjeerdema thanked him for his contribution to the field of water technology in Leeuwarden and presented him with a gift on behalf of the City of Leeuwarden. This was not the only gift that afternoon. Henk and Jos had also revealed a surprise gift in the shape of a large canvas depicting the company’s history, illustrated in cartoon style by local artist Aad van Altena. This canvas now decorates Wafilin Systems’ meeting room, but Harry received a personal version of the illustration to take home with him as well.

Golden anniversary Wafilin

The name Wafilin was created while sitting around the coffee table at WMO in Zwolle, on Mr. Keller’s request. “We actually received 100 guilders for doing so. It wasn’t uncommon to get a bonus if we’d done something extra,” reminisces Harry. The existence of Wafilin has contributed greatly to the development of membrane technology in the Netherlands. This was also celebrated in other ways at the Membrane Conference the previous day.

Enjoyably reunited

Never before in the company’s operational existence had there been a reunion of this type, making it a unique event. “I’d discussed the idea with some ex-colleagues a while ago during one of our annual cycling trips. Our 50th anniversary was a perfect time to make it happen. Together with former colleagues Thom Cremer and Henk Reins, we worked to make the guest list as complete as possible,” says Harry van Dalfsen. The result was a mix of former staff, the creators of the Wafilin name and previous members of the board.

“We had an enjoyable, convivial and interesting afternoon. Back when we were involved in the company in the 1970s and halfway through the 1980s, we wouldn’t have dreamed of things coming so far. It’s wonderful to see,” one of the guests said. The organisers were praised effusively. The day concluded with party favours consisting of custom jigsaws with the illustrated Wafilin history; a special reminder of a very special day. 

Would you like to learn more about the reunion and developments of Wafilin over the years? If so, please contact Harry van Dalfsen at h.vandalfsen@wafilinsystems.nl.

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