This year, Verwater is celebrating a special anniversary: the company exists for a century. In this century, Verwater developed from a Rotterdam based excavation company to a multidisciplinary, global contractor for industrial and petrochemical systems in tank maintenance and tank construction.
1922-1940: the founding
In 1922 Hendricus Verwater founded his company. It was the time of great growth for the ports of Rotterdam. Verwater took on all the work involved. Construction of harbours and dykes, and especially the digging of construction pits. By the way, Verwater did not only do this in the harbour. The company also worked on new residential areas in Rotterdam Spangen, Blijdorp and Delfshaven.
1940-1950: war and reconstruction
Just before World War II, Verwater was helping in the construction of the legendary Blijdorp Zoo. With the oncoming war, the activities quickly shifted to digging air-raid shelters. At the outbreak of the war Hendricus Verwater had to go into military service. The remaining employees focused on groundwork for emergency shelters and the construction of quays for the Volker dredging company.
1950-1960: major works
In the post-war years, Verwater increasingly played a role in major works. For example, the filling up of the river Schie with debris that was left from the bombing of Rotterdam. Verwater also took on the groundwork for the Dijkzigt Hospital (the present Erasmus Medical Centre). In 1956, the first large professional equipment purchased was a dragline. This was a turning point for the company: from that date onwards work increased rapidly, both in the city and in the harbours and the emerging petrochemical industry.
The sixties started with increasingly more work for the evergrowing Shell Pernis, where Verwater won its first large tank jacking contract in 1961. This was a major breakthrough. Verwater worked increasingly more often for Shell. In addition, Verwater remained active in land and roadworks, mainly commissioned by the municipality of Rotterdam. In 1965, a new service was launched: commissioned by Esso, Verwater moved a complete tank. This tank was being moved on rollers, which turned out not to be a very fast way. Thus, Verwater developed a method with special lorries on railway tracks, and later on specialized trailers the so-called “strassenrollers”. The jacking and relocating of tanks became a successful activity at home and abroad.
1970-1980: start of internationalisation
Verwater opened an office in Belgium in 1970. Both Shell and Matex (one of the predecessors of Vopak) saw an increase in the demand for the relocation of entire tank parks. In addition, the port area in Rotterdam expanded from the Botlek to Europoort and the Maasvlakte. And Verwater went out into the world even further: to Denmark, France and the United Kingdom, and even Oman, Malaysia and Curaçao.
1980-1990: Singapore branch
The internationalisation continued in the eighties. Verwater landed orders in Kenya, Brunei and New Zealand. The company opened a branch in Singapore. In the late eighties, the demand for tanks started to decline. By mediating in the resale of surplus tanks, Verwater still managed to generate the necessary revenue. In addition, the company continued to further refine and innovate its jacking technology.
1990-2000: civil engineering
Verwater followed Shell to Nigeria, which brought in a lot of work. The company continued to grow and acquired more and more new equipment. A new workshop was opened in Belgium. Verwater also entered the civil engineering market. In addition, the market for jacking and moving tanks remained substantial.
2000-2010: largest tank ever
After a dip at the beginning of the century, a period of growth and an important new acquisition followed: Verwater expanded with Dijksman, a renowned tank builder. From that moment on, Verwater became a major player in tank construction, in addition to being a tank jacker and contractor. The projects became bigger and bigger, from a project for Vopak with tanks of 40 to 45 metres in diameter to the construction of the biggest tanks ever (with a diameter of 87 metres!) at the Maasvlakte Oil Terminal (MOT). New construction projects abroad also followed.
Unfortunately, the growth to ever larger and international projects also had a downside. Verwater had a setback with two very large tank construction projects and ran into financial difficulties around 2013. An external investment party came forward and a major reorganisation followed. Verwater quickly returned to being profitable. In 2015, Verwater acquired business units of former Imtech Industrial Services and thus expanded its portfolio with electrical engineering, instrumentation, automation, valve overhaul and panel building.
2020-present: Verwater Estonia and acquisition of SJR
In 2020 Verwater Estonia opened its doors in Tallinn. With this new workshop, Verwater is ensuring new recruitment of well-trained personnel with ‘the Verwater DNA’. The new employees are deployed for new construction and maintenance projects in the Netherlands and Belgium.
The most recent achievement is the acquisition of SJR at the end of 2020, by means of which Verwater expanded its services to include the prefab construction of tanks with a height of up to 32 metres and a diameter of up to 24 metres.