Johan van Hasselt
Born in 1850, Johan van Hasselt studied civil engineering at the Polytechnic in Delft. His first job was with a railway company where he worked on a bridge over the River Maas in the Netherlands. When the company ran into financial troubles, he left and spent a year teaching civil engineering at the country’s Military Academy before setting up his own engineering firm. Van Hasselt’s timing was perfect as the economy was flourishing and the Netherlands was modernising fast. He received commissions to design steam tramlines and pumping stations and drew up a plan for a railway bridge in Indonesia. By 1881, he had so much work that he approached his good friend Jacobus de Koning to become a partner.
Jacobus de Koning
Born in 1855, Jacobus de Koning also studied civil engineering at the Polytechnic in Delft. In 1876, he was appointed special inspector for Public Works and Water Management based in Nijmegen. One of his tasks was to take velocity measurements in the rivers. From there he moved to Netherlands Railways and worked on the Rotterdam-Hoek Line. This job proved disappointing so he was delighted when van Hasselt invited him to become a partner in his firm. In 1899 de Koning retained his position in the firm while also taking on the role of director of the Dutch Petroleum Company. De Koning died at the young age of 50.
Adriaan Dwars graduated from Delft Polytechnic as a civil engineer in 1896 and a year later gained a further degree in architectural engineering. For eight years from 1899 he worked at the Department of Public Works in Utrecht and then spent two years as professor of engineering at the University of Santiago in Chile. In 1909, he became director of the technical college in Utrecht, lecturing in engineering, steel and reinforced concrete. It was in 1916 that he was approached by Verhey and agreed to join the new engineering partnership.
Arie Heederik gained his civil engineering degree in 1885. The following year he joined an engineering firm based in Rotterdam which specialised in factory construction, railroads and water supply. When the head of the firm died in 1912, Heederik continued the agency under his own name. Before Verhey, Dwars and Groothoff had even launched their engineering firm, talks were under way with Heederik and a merger was agreed. On New Year’s Day 1917, the Office for Construction and Hydraulic Engineering in Rotterdam and The Hague was established.
Another civil engineering student of the Polytechnic School in Delft, Bastiaan Verhey graduated in 1904 and joined the Rotterdam Tramway Company constructing steam tramlines. From there he moved to a concrete and contracting firm and, in 1908, became a concrete specialist in the navy. By 1916, his work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit led him away from the navy. At a meeting with his former classmate Groothoff, who was just back from Indonesia, the two men decided to set up an engineering company. Verhey then approached Dwars, another concrete specialist and fellow member of a committee involved with revising regulations for reinforced concrete.