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"Riding a bike is like being on holiday" – Jan Marcel Katuin in an interview

Matthias Bernold

As someone who's at home in the world and a native Dutchman who was "practically born on a bike" is how our new Director for Global Sales, Jan Marcel Katuin, describes himself. In an interview, the woom manager explains what the new sales strategy for the next few years looks like and how he talks about the climate crisis with his daughters.

What will you be focussing on in your first half year at woom?

Right now, the team is developing the global sales strategy for the next few years, which will be rolled out in phases. I am also taking an in-depth look at the needs of woom customers and the development of the rules of play for the bicycle industry. And I am in close dialogue with our international sales partners to gain an understanding of what they need and how woom is perceived in their respective countries. Part of this is also a shop-in-shop system to optimise the brand experience for our customers at the point of sale.

How would you describe the corporate culture at woom?

I received a very warm welcome right from the start. The onboarding programme at woom is highly professional and makes it easy to understand very quickly what goes on in each of the departments and how the interplay between them works. The woom team spirit is really outstanding, and you can feel the passion for the brand in every employee. Everybody is highly motivated and even with their fully booked calendars, they always have an open ear. If you have a question, everybody's willing to help out.

How would you characterise yourself as a person?

I am spontaneous, active, interested, athletic, open to new things, and sociable. I don't do half-measures; I'm impatient and sometimes my enthusiasm pushes me to be a couple of steps ahead of others – I can get swept up in a passion for things.

What is your worst quality?

I could probably be a better listener.

Who are your role models?

My heroes are not so much the well known titans of industry like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, but much more, people I've been involved with directly: parents, family, friends. And of course colleagues in whom I've discovered abilities or qualities that I wish I had myself.

What special quality do you bring to your work at woom?

Maybe, that I am at home in the world. That I have an entrepreneurial mindset and do not think about the company only from the perspective of sales. I am also very gregarious and open to new things.

How should a company position itself in terms of sustainability? 

I think we should listen very closely to what young people are concerned with at present. If we want to be successful as a company we have to take these matters into account and be a part of the conversation. The message in the dialogue with young people should be: you're right; let's work together toward a solution. I believe that perceptions and consciousness are changing – I notice it even in myself. I've come to think differently about mobility. Especially since I started riding the train, I have a lot more quality time to myself. I read, I relax and listen to podcasts and music, and so forth. Even though some things cannot be achieved as quickly as one might wish, we need to move in the right direction.

What would you tell your children if they took up the cause of the Fridays for Future movement?

My kids are deeply involved in climate-crisis issues and related questions. There is scarcely any corner of our lives not impacted by it: food, mobility, holidays, etc. I'd say that in our family, we generally share the same views on most of these issues. I am perhaps the one who's more of a realist because I know how difficult it is to implement the details of certain measures.

What does money mean to you?

For me, money is a means of securing a standard of living. It is necessary to pay for food, clothing, a home, and the life's little joys. But money alone is not enough to motivate employees. Motivation has to come from people themselves and is nurtured by things like esteem and trust, experiencing success, and being given the space to make one's own ideas a reality. That's also the reason I'm having so much fun with my work at woom, where we're tapping new markets and looking for novel ways to do that. That motivates me to go to work, and then I'm happy on occasion to spend ten or twelve hours here and give it my all.

How do you deal with the problems that crop up in your job?

I remain calm. Then I get sorted and quickly start filtering: what's the core issue? What's the problem? What is the consequence for our customers, and what's the best solution? After the initial phase, focussed on precisely identifying the problem, the next step is to quickly start thinking through solutions. We can't allow ourselves to get distracted by the question of who's botched something up. First, we have to solve the problem, and then we can look into what caused it and learn from it.


How would you describe your relationship to cycling?

As a Dutchman, I was practically born on a bike. Bikes have always had a central place in my life. As a child, I went everywhere on my bike: to school, to sport and to friends, wherever. Now, cycling is a way for me to enjoy nature. I also try to pass that on to my children: we take bike tours and spend a lot of time cycling around together. I still love exploring the world by bike. As soon as I sit in the bike saddle I feel like I'm on holiday.


Jan Marcel Katuin (47): Since July 2021, in the position of the Director for Global Sales, the native Dutchman has been responsible for the woom global retailer network and distribution partners. woom bikes are available from more than 500 retailers in over 30 countries around the world. Katuin brings with him a career in international sales. Along the way, he has held positions at the Dutch retail chain HEMA, the battery supplier Varta Consumer Batteries, and the perfume manufacturer Mäurer & Wirtz. Most recently, he was with the Rodenstock Group, a global innovation leader in high-end spectacles and lenses.