NOM Drives: René Hooghiemster, Rocq Sports 'I wish others the same beautiful sports experience'
  • Drives

NOM Drives: René Hooghiemster, Rocq Sports 'I wish others the same beautiful sports experience'

Drives are the real engine behind growth and development, but to what extent are companies in the Northern Netherlands consciously
engaged in this? And how do they approach it? NOM is curious and, for this column, interviews organizations that are actively exploring their motivations.
actively investigate.

In his own words, he "hangs together from bolts and plates" and can no longer live in sixth gear, but: he can live in third! This positive approach is typical of entrepreneur and cycling pro René Hooghiemster (34) from Sneek, who narrowly survived a serious accident during a training ride in Mallorca in early 2020. After months of surgery and rehabilitation - a process in which he is still in the middle - the sportsman enthusiastically tells how he continues his life and business again to the best of his ability. What drives him?

René is living proof that more is possible than we often think. Even his rehabilitation doctors are amazed at the speed of his recovery and what he can do again. His secret? 'Besides happiness and health - my body was well trained - it is setting goals,' the entrepreneur says. 'Both in my sport and my business, I owe all my growth and development to goal setting. It's not even so much about those goals themselves, but about being on the road. Working toward something. And that applies to my recovery now, too. Each surgery, each new rehab exercise is a goal I can hold on to. After the accident, I experienced only one real low point, and that was when I had no goal for a while. However humble, I need goals to keep making strides.'

NOM Drives: René Hooghiemster, Rocq Sports 'I wish others the same beautiful sports experience'

Following curiosity

Behind those goals sparkles a tremendous zest for life. René blossoms when he follows his intrinsic motivation. 'Because of my dyslexia, I was a disaster in languages in high school, but when I joined a German cycling team, I naturally became fluent in German,' he gives as an example. 'If I am doing what I enjoy, what I am curious about and have ideas about, it is not difficult to work hard and develop myself. This is also how my company started seven years ago. I wasn't satisfied with the quality of cycling apparel on my team and then had something produced myself. That gave me such a good feeling that I immediately knew: I want to do more with this.'

He started his own cycling clothing brand Lawi under the name Hooghiemster Sport. 'Most people in my environment saw it with sorrow,' René remembers well, 'because according to them there was no room for a new brand. But I was enthusiastic and started with small goals. Literally picked up the first box of clothes myself from the producer in the Czech Republic and managed to expand steadily. I benefited greatly from my lessons from sports. From the age of eighteen I cycled under contract with a professional cycling team and then you gradually become wiser. I learned to set goals, push boundaries, take setbacks, persevere, deal with teammates, trainers and sponsors, and I also learned leadership as a race captain.

It's not even so much about those goals themselves as it is about being on the road.

Top sports mentality

That managing a cycling team is different from managing employees, René discovered when he recruited people to his own sports brand. 'I am into creative ideas and innovation, but a company also requires good structure and organization. Just as I gathered people around me in sports who could take me further, I started looking for colleagues for my company who could strengthen me in the back office. That worked great, with the only caveat being that my top sports mentality sometimes got in the way. For me it is very normal to be busy every night for the business, but I cannot expect my co-workers to also always be "on" and want to go full throttle. That has been a learning experience.

'Building a team involved trial and error, but that we succeeded well together was evident after my accident. As a control freak, I was already in the ICU making phone calls, which of course was not possible. My team took things in hand and I experienced that I was fine for a while. I also realize now that we can still make nice progress in a few gears down. Two years ago I had already sold my Lawi brand to Kalas Sportswear, a major international brand. From my company - now called Rocq Sports - we represent Kalas in the Netherlands and develop custom-made collections. Our focus on advice in combination with an online shop works so well that this concept is also being rolled out internationally at Kalas. A challenge that I get to take up and which I am very much looking forward to.'

NOM Drives: René Hooghiemster, Rocq Sports 'I wish others the same beautiful sports experience'

Rather the best

Domestically, René has ambitions to scale up further. 'We are already doing well, but there is more potential. We are growing quietly. We don't have to be the biggest, rather the best. Quality and service are paramount for us and we really are a specialist. Because I am a cyclist myself, I speak the customers' language and sincerely want to advise them well. I wish others the same beautiful experience as I have in this sport, no matter what level you cycle at. Due to my accident, top sport is no longer feasible for me, but I am cycling again and have also taken up coaching again. Cycling still has a central place in my life and it gives so much energy to be doing what I love most. Even though I give myself more space now, I still work hard. On my recovery and on the further development of my company. There are still plenty of goals to pursue.

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