Annie is a classic example of a woman who holds her own in a male-dominated world: the world of thermoformers. I’ve known her for 25 years. In fact, it’s because of her I became a salesman. Here’s why.

I’m well aware that happiness means different things to different people. But when Annie recruited me back in 1991 as a service engineer, I could only guess where she got her remarkable drive from. For many years she’d happily worked as a thermoformer sales engineer, a job that enabled her to combine her two passions: technology and food.

‘Every advantage has its disadvantage’

Annie Beets combines her passion for food and technology in selling PowerPak thermoformers.

One of our first jobs together took us to some remote part of the country. We were a bit early for our appointment so we had time to go for a coffee. Annie told me her story: “I was the only girl on my chemistry course, the only girl in the lab where I gained my first work experience while doing research on meat products, and for years I’ve been the only woman in our business.” Was that an advantage or a disadvantage? Echoing the well-known quote by the Dutch football icon Johan Cruyff, Annie replied: “Every advantage has its disadvantage. As a woman, you have to be twice as good, so I make sure I’m twice as good. When I go to see a client I’m not just the sales engineer from GEA, a company that makes great thermoformers – I’m also a consumer. I love cooking, I comb through all the promotional flyers that come through the letterbox and I go to the supermarket often. And I don’t just go to one supermarket, I go to several and check out what packaging is used for what food products. I look, compare and keep close tabs on the latest trends. This means I can really put myself in the shoes of the person I'm talking to during a client meeting.” 

The twinkle in Annie’s eyes made me realise that we do so much more than sell machines – Ludo Tuyaerts, Senior Sales Engineer GEA Belgium

Twinkle

“A pizza manufacturer once asked us to design a machine for a type of packaging that would immediately stand out on the shelves. It’s not just about delivering a top-quality product; you also have to contribute ideas on the marketing front. We thought about it and came up with a thermoformer for an octagonal pizza packaging. Can you imagine how I felt when I saw it in the shops?” The twinkle in her eyes immediately made me realise that we do so much more than sell machines.

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