Gepubliceerd in 'Porsche Club News' Editie mei 2016
Interview with Henry de Vaal, President of the Porsche Club Holland
Porsche Club News: Mr de Vaal, let's start with a very personal question. What was your first Porsche?
Henry de Vaal: My first Porsche was a black 964 Carrera 4. At that time, I was working in America and it belonged to my boss. I then brought the car to the Netherlands. Today it is my son who drives it, so the car has remained in the family. Nowadays, I drive a black 996 GT3.
Porsche Club News: You have been President for nine years. How did you first get involved in the Porsche Club Holland?
Henry de Vaal: An acquaintance was a member of the Porsche Club Holland. He said to me, “Just come along some time and see if you like it.” And that is still the way we do things in the Club today. All those who are interested in the Club are allowed to take part in an event before they decide whether they would like to become a member. I was an editor of the Club magazine for many years and then I became Vice-President. And at the time our former President unfortunately became very ill, I took over responsibility.
Porsche Club News: How would you describe the Porsche Club Holland?
Henry de Vaal: As “friends” – a club of friends. Everyone knows each other, and I also believe that 250 members is the right size. What I like about us is that we have such a diverse array of members. That ranges from someone who has saved money for his dream of owning a Porsche for many years and who finally buys a Porsche 993 to collectors with 20 Porsche cars in their garage. And everyone works together. In addition to that, the spouses are always involved. We enjoy and live Porsche together and amongst friends.
Porsche Club News: Since its founding, the Porsche Club Holland has of course been a Club geared towards sport. What are the Club’s activities?
Henry de Vaal: We organise a wide range of driver training sessions. Partly as slaloms, partly as racetracks. We are lucky to have very experienced instructors in the Club. For driver training sessions on racetracks, we cooperate with the Nederlandse Porsche Club. In addition to all that, we have various photo rallies in the provinces. Of course, our members come from all parts of the Netherlands. We are thus trying to host an event in every region on an annual basis. From Groningen right down to Limburg. That is a total of around 15 events each year.
Porsche Club News: How is the Club developing at the moment?
Henry de Vaal: We have grown by around 60 to 70 per cent over the past ten years. We now have nearly 250 members. Nine years ago, we felt the effects of global market developments, but now the club is growing quite fast. And now even the latest series are represented among our number. The range of cars in the Club is becoming more colourful.
Porsche Club News: What characterises Club life for you?
Henry de Vaal: Here in the Club, you can talk about and drive Porsches and you can enjoy the car with others. That is of course difficult to achieve in everyday life. This is exactly why a Club is of vital importance. And then we have the driver training on racecourses, joint rallies and drives out. We also organise events on a regular basis with our Porsche Centres. They invite their customers and we invite our members. Then you suddenly get 100 cars at the starting line and 200 Porsche enthusiasts in the showroom. It is simply tremendous fun. And of course it’s good for us and the dealers.
Porsche Club News: In the Netherlands, collaboration with the dealers and the Centres is extremely good. Actually an example of best-practice?
Henry de Vaal: Definitely. Here in the Netherlands we have three independent Porsche Centres with whom we work closely: Gelderland, Amsterdam and Eindhoven. That also works excellently with PON Porsche Import, which manages the other Porsche Centres. For us, that is a clear win-win situation. That is how we see it. The Centre has closer contact with customers through our Club, and as a Club we grow closer to Porsche. We both have something to gain here. Even now at the anniversary event, the collaboration worked superbly. Mark Wegh from the Porsche Centre Gelderland immediately provided his Classic Centre free of charge.
Porsche Club News: Let’s talk about the international Porsche Club community. What sets the international community apart?
Henry de Vaal: As President, you get to know a lot of international colleagues over time, and you can exchange views. Every year we have an excursion abroad: Scotland, France, Alsace. And this year it will be in Denmark. Porsche Club enthusiasts from Denmark are now organising a meeting with us. That is wonderful, and it helps if you know one another and, for example, when you get together at the International Presidents’ Meeting.
Porsche Club News: Keyword – International Presidents’ Meeting. What role does support from Porsche Community Management play for you?
Henry de Vaal: It is precisely the International Presidents’ Meeting, organised by the Porsche Community Management, which facilitates the exchange of views and networking. The new Clubs can learn a lot and they can ask us how we do it. The Porsche Community Management always keeps us well informed and it supports us in all aspects. So it is absolutely great. Even the online support is tip-top. The homepages are indeed growing in importance. All requests for information reach us via our homepage. This also applies to almost 90 per cent of our Club membership requests. We feel that the website is the best form of advertising. It is the first impression that people get of the Club. For that reason, we are always up to date. You’ll be pleased to know that we have also linked Porsche Club News. And our members also like to take a look at it. You can see simply everything that is happening worldwide there.
Porsche Club News: The Club is now celebrating its 60th anniversary. What are your plans?
Henry de Vaal: In the past, we’ve always gone for a drive abroad on our anniversaries. Of course only 25 to 30 cars could take part in this. For the big anniversary, I wanted to get something up and running that everyone can participate in. So we decided to have an enormous celebration – and very relaxed. We have been saving for this, and now everyone can look forward to it. In addition, we have designed our new logo. For the anniversary, there was a special emblem with the number 60 in the middle and we also created a neutral variant that will be our logo in future. We are really happy about our new emblem. You can’t get much more Dutch than that, can you?
Porsche Club News: What are the plans for after the anniversary?
Henry de Vaal: To start with, we still have the legendary P&P event. A drive that two Club members, Peter and Paul, have now been organising for 30 years, and which will be held for the last time this year. Then it is back to the racetrack. We still have the Denmark drive and a factory visit. Moreover our yearbook will also be a special task this year. The past five issues have had around 150 pages. This year, there will be a few more because of the anniversary year. So it is a full programme – as usual with us.
Henry de Vaal, thank you for the interview and congratulations on your anniversary!