The sounds of telephone conversations going on in five languages simultaneously and shipping label printers and tape guns flying at light speed filled the air. Brown walls made from cartons of eyewear cases resembling Trump’s vision of the US/Mexico border were built up to try and dampen the noise. The oceanfront view of the IJ River and its skyline mix of old houseboats, modern architectural structures and constructions cranes offered brief moments of serenity in the chaos.
Less than a year after setting up shop in our new Amsterdam headquarters, we were already starting to feel like sardines in a tin can. We had quickly outgrown our first home and needed some more space to breathe. After searching far and wide we found an available building just a few minutes down the road (or a short swim in polluted waters for those who aren’t frightened by the risk of a hepatitis infection). At first glance it didn’t look like much: a grey stone building with tiny yellow bordered windows, attached to a big, clumsy blue metal box with yellow doors. The walls were a dingy yellow from years of indoor smoking, the smell of which preserved in the worn red carpeting. The warehouse was being used as a parking lot for old Volvos. One room was entirely black – floors, ceilings and walls. We learned that the old tenant was a sex toy manufacturer, and this room had been used to shoot photos of countless dildos and vibrators. It was an eyesore, but it was perfect.
The news of our move was kept secret to our team until one typical gloomy, grey sky day at the end of March. I pretended to take a phone call and snuck out the door, picked up the provisions I had stashed at reception earlier that morning, and biked down the road to Le Mairekade to meet Frans Heijn, the captain of a luxury canal boat I had chartered for the day. We drove around the harbor and when we approached the backside of our office, Frans laid on the fog horn. Wondering what the noise was all about, our team flocked to the windows to find me standing on the bow of a boat heading straight towards them.
I told everyone to lock up and come outside – we were going to take a canal cruise to celebrate a great season. The boat docked and everyone came onboard where brunch and mimosas awaited them. After a short misleading tour through the canals we parked at Haparandadam and walked thru the Houthavens. Suddenly I stopped in the middle of the street and told everyone they were standing outside our new office. I arranged for the real estate agent to meet us there and open the doors so everyone got a chance to check out our new home.
After an intense couple of months of renovations, learning to operate forklifts and a couple hot sweaty days of moving, we loaded up the fridge with beer and fired up the grill to celebrate. Now we’ve settled in and everyone is enjoying the summer at GLCO Amsterdam 2.0. It feels like home already.