Henk Somers: 'We used to be a lone wolf in the industry...'

From weddings to corporate events; no party is too crazy for Henk Somers. In 1990 the entrepreneur, together with Henk Focke, founded the company Moose where you can go for the complete organization and construction of a party. Fascinated by decors Henk once started at the art academy, but is now, thirty years later, called the grandfather of the event industry. How did Henk Somers start his successful career and who was his proverbial wheelbarrow?

Image: Moose

What was your very first job?

''I started making decors for nightclubs early on. So I started with small decors, especially in the club sector. Soon this developed into organizing parties myself, for example in hotels. Soon the question came from people 'If you can organize parties in hotels, can you also do this at our house?' And so it happened: from hotels I now organized parties at people's homes such as communion parties, wedding parties or theme parties.''

What do you enjoy most about organizing?

''I don't have a particular type of party that I like best to organize. The most fun is when you can surprise the client with a complete story. Whether it's a wedding party or a theme party, as long as we can end up with a fun and true story.''

Do you come from an entrepreneurial family?

''I don't actually come from an entrepreneurial family at all. My father was a math teacher and my mother was a clerk.''

Who was your wheelbarrow?

''I think I have been my own wheelbarrow. From a very early age I was fascinated by sets, because of this I went to art school in Belgium. Thirty years ago, the industry I operate in now didn't exist at all. At one point I started working with a marketing agency which gave a big boost. It started with a party in an industrial building for 150 people, three years later these were parties for 9000 people. During this time I got to know a lot of different facets of this world, both musical and organizational, but also the design side. The parties I organized were the first big parties that took place in Belgium. Thus, the concept of parties with one umbrella name, but in different halls, with different music styles and different decors did not exist at all at that time. We are actually considered the grandfathers of the event sector.''

What is your greatest passion in your profession?

''In general, we have an exciting party culture in Belgium if you compare it to other countries, we can really deliver gems. For example, with our company we also organize parties for Jewish or Indian families, who want to throw really exceptional big parties. But no matter how big or small a party is, it's all about the content. My passion is to create an experience through a party. In my opinion, a party should be an experience where you as a guest keep discovering new things throughout the evening and stay captivated by it.''

What was the biggest turning point in your career?

''There are a number of them. The first tipping point was when I traded the small studio for an industrial building. I had to pump every penny into the property to keep it. But this choice also allowed us to host larger events. The second tipping point was when we managed to buy even bigger premises thirteen years ago. Here we can store a lot of equipment; for example, we are currently sitting here with more than 13,000 chairs in stock. Everything is now in one building, including the production of sets, for example. This allows us to offer everything together. We arrive on location as one construction crew. There are no twenty suppliers who come and plow the entire property over to people. There is one team and one point of contact: that is easy communication internally, but also to the customer.''

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

 ''I would especially like to pass on to my eighteen-year-old self that you have to look for a creative solution and especially not go along with yet another mainstream story. Because that way you get lost very quickly in something where there is a lot of competition. The worst thing for me is when people copy our décor, concepts or furniture. Then I think: 'keep thinking creatively yourself'. I would also say that you have to choose something you really enjoy. After all, this work asks a lot of you. It's definitely not a nine-to-five job. You have to set your whole life to it. Your social life and your profession are actually one in this profession.''

Have you been a wheelbarrow for anyone?

''We used to be a lonely wolf in the industry. We lived in an ivory tower. I'm very happy that at some point competition came in. I think I inspired and continue to inspire many of these people. Many of the competing colleagues come to rent equipment from us, but often we also come up with concepts together. After all, I'm not afraid of competitors. After all, there is more than enough work, at least when there is no Corona...''

When you throw your own party, what does it look like?

''Then that's actually a nun's party. After all, I don't want anything to do with the organization at my own party. Just put me by the boar on the spit with a bottle of vodka, and I'll be happy.''