Obituary: Jan IJmker, former CEO at Mammoet Transport

By Alex Dahm08 February 2022

Photo portrait of IJmker in a dark jacket and coloured tie standing in an office Jan IJmker at the time of his retirement from Mammoet Transport in 1997. Photo: Mammoet

With regret we report the death of Jan IJmker, former managing director at Mammoet Transport and a legendary figure in the European heavy transport and lifting industry.

He died on 7 February 2022 at the age of 86.

Ton Klijn, director at European transport and crane association ESTA, wrote the following: IJmker started his career with Dutch harbour towage and salvage company Goedkoop, based in Amsterdam. Owner Jan Goedkoop bought van Wezel transport to combine water- and land-based heavy transport services in one company, a move that precipitated the birth of Mammoet Transport where Jan IJmker became the first CEO in 1973.

He held that position for 24 years until retirement in 1997. During that time he navigated Mammoet through 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. Later came the design and build of the Happy Buccaneer, a ground-breaking heavy lift ship still sailing today.

Being an entrepreneur, Jan IJmker oversaw the establishment of their first branch office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and later the founding of companies that include 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 the time was biggest crane in the world (Demag CC 12000) into the Mammoet fleet.

In 1984 Jan IJmker was responsible for the introduction of the new concept of self propelled modular transport (SPMT) 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 super heavy lift sliding gantry 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.

Ton Klijn said, “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.

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