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35 years of iPS, from 1988 to the present! 

7 December 2023


4 min

In 1974, Theo Wanders and Leo Oostendorp met during an overseas project. Theo worked as an Administrator at Costain Blankevoort, while Leo was involved as a Technical Services Inspector at Van Hattum & Blankevoort. They kept in touch ever since, lived in the same apartment complex and later worked together on several projects. 


Together they saw opportunities in the dredging industry and so, in 1988, they decided to set up Interocean Personnel Services (iPS).


The duo each had their unique expertise to contribute: Theo with deep knowledge of human resources and extensive business contacts, and Leo with technical know-how and valuable relationships with decision-makers in the dredging industry. In August of that same year, they rented an office in Leiden.


Rob Kooijmans joined the board of iPS Powerful People in 2010. Before that, he had worked for a multinational company for 18 years in various international positions. Just under six months later, Patrick Mans joined the company as Assistant Controller. After holding various positions within the organisation, Patrick joined the board in 2018.


iPS underwent an exciting journey of global expansion and internal optimisation. The internal structure was refined, new tools were introduced and business activities extended to Mexico, Dubai, Australia, Saudi Arabia, the US and the Baltics. In addition to further expansion within the maritime, civil and energy industries, labels such as iPS | Nautech and iPS Select were established. Behind the scenes, the back office and finance team made progress, perfecting commercial operations with new tools that simplified daily work.


iPS excels by seamlessly integrating strong candidate relationships, in-depth industry knowledge and expertise in international compensation. This unique combination enables iPS to continuously provide appropriate solutions to find and deploy talented individuals on global projects.


iPS enables us to proactively serve candidates and clients around the world at a professional level. iPS continues to challenge itself by staying ahead of the curve and providing an unparalleled service to our global community of candidates and clients.


Rob still remembers it very well, all of a sudden, iPS had an unforgettable adventure during a tunnel project in southern Sweden. To transport employees to and from the project site, Dutch vans were used, which had to return to the Netherlands annually for maintenance. During the summer, these vans were returned by students.


Remarkably, the project employees had smoked something in the evenings and weekends, which was known to the local authorities. When first collected for the return trip, the vans were regularly stopped and thoroughly checked. Although nothing was found, the students ended up missing a boat crossing, which resulted in an unforgettable experience for them. This anecdote highlights not only the everyday challenges in international projects, but also the unexpected twists and turns that make iPS’s work so unique.

Patrick: “A particular story that perfectly matches our proactive pursuit of developments occurred during the start-up of the Fehmarnbelt project, the largest traffic tunnel between Denmark and Germany. Despite the Covid-19 challenges, numerous candidates had to start working, during which we negotiated intensively with the client on working hours, tax obligations and contract types.” 

I visited the project and the client week after week, sometimes accompanied by colleagues. What an experience this was! In just five days, candidates were tested 8-10 times for Covid, all intended to be able to serve our candidates and clients to the best of our abilities. This period was an impressive chain of commitment and dedication, and it is an experience I will not forget any time soon. It illustrates not only the complexity of our work but also the tireless commitment of the iPS team to always be there for our people and partners.”


In short, looking back on 35 years of iPS Powerful People, it has been an exciting journey. On to the next 35 years!

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