Obituary: Jan IJmker, respected former CEO of Mammoet Transport

ESTA is sad to announce that Jan IJmker, former managing director of Mammoet Transport and a legendary figure in the European heavy transport and lifting industry, died on February 7 at the age of 86.

He started his career with the Dutch harbour towage and salvage firm Goedkoop based in Amsterdam. Owner Jan Goedkoop decided to buy van Wezel transport to combine water- and land-based heavy transport activities in one company, a move that lead to the birth of Mammoet Transport for whom Jan IJmker became the first CEO in 1973.

He would hold this post for 24 years until his retirement in 1997, a period in which he would navigate Mammoet through an array of expansions and takeovers and a number of shareholder changes.

Jan IJmker was at the helm when Mammoet Shipping was founded, and the first dedicated heavy lift ships were built. This eventually led to the design and building of the Happy Buccaneer, a ground-breaking Heavy Lift ship that still sails today.

Being an entrepreneur, Jan IJmker oversaw the establishment of their first branch office in Dubai and later the founding of companies such as Mammoet Saudi, Mamut de Colombia, Mammoet Rosharon TX, Mammoet Singapore, Mammoet Japan and Mammoet Canada.

In 1979 he supervised the purchase of Big Lift in Holland and in 1995 the merger with Decalift from Italy, bringing what at that time was biggest crane in the world (CC 12000) into the Mammoet fleet.

In 1984 Jan IJmker was responsible for the introduction of the new innovative concept of SPMT trailers into the world of heavy transport and into Mammoet as a company.
At the end of his career, he was founding father of Mammoet E&I where the first MSG cranes were developed and built.

Jan IJmker can be characterised as a man of few words and large achievements – he was famous for his dislike of having to give public speeches; an assignment he would usually keep as short and sweet as possible.

For most of the old Mammoet crew, myself included, it feels that with the demise of Jan IJmker we are saying goodbye to “Mr Mammoet”.

Jan IJmker leaves behind his wife, a son and a daughter

Ton Klijn, ESTA Director