Handyman with a heart of gold

Peter van den Molengraaf, Spot welder

Once upon a time, he did his work entirely by hand, later he was assisted by robots. For 30 years, he worked as a welder without a single diploma and he supervised beginner welders. If there was anyone who kept up with the times, it was Peter. He retired in 2021 after 50 years of work, but he just could not sit still. Even now, he is crazy about welding, so much so that KMWE still asks him for his help. He is truly passionate about his profession!


Learning on the job

“I had never welded before, but by observing colleagues who had experience and by doing it, I slid into it. No one ever asked for my diploma,” he starts. After following a lower vocational education, Peter started the learning programme of Philips at the age of 16. The unit were Peter worked was later taken over by KMWE and in 2021, Peter was the longest serving employee in his department. “I have done all kinds of things. I started at the punching machine. I moved on and worked with bending machines and press brake machines, followed by welding for 30 years. About seven years ago, hand welding became less popular and spot welding made its appearance. I oversaw that department and I supervised ten employees. I was a jack of all trades, so if it was busy at another department, I helped out there.”



″Everything is well-organised. If you want a lot of variety in your job, this is the place to be.”  



Then and now

“I started supervising because I wanted to,” he continues. I don’t care if I had to explain the same thing 25 times, I kept calm. Maybe that is why they asked me to mentor students,” he laughs. I do see some differences with the old days. The beginner welders do many things from the very beginning and they have to be more flexible. They have no choice, because of all the developments. Take the spot welding robots, for instance. It took me a while to figure out how to operate and programme them, but the 19-year-old girl that I trained last year figured it out immediately.”


Craftsperson of the year

“If I look back at my career (note: Peter retired mid 2021 after 50 years at KMWE (previously DutchAero)), I can honestly say that I always enjoyed worked here. That is why I said yes, when they asked me to stay on for one or two days a week!” Highlights in his career were his 25th, 40th and 50th work anniversary and his nomination for the Noordhof Award for best craftsperson of the year, in 2018. “I normally do not like a big fanfare, but this was a big honour”, he smiles.



″I have worked here for 50 years and I honestly say that I always enjoyed worked here.



Best of both worlds

“Because KMWE Aerospace is a unit inside KMWE, our team feels like its own organisation,” Peter continues. We have a nice group of 25 to 30 people and we are having a good time in our workshop. However, we benefit from the fact that KWME is the bigger employer. Everything is well-organised. If you want a lot of variety in your job, this is the place to be. But if you would rather do the same thing every day with the same people around you, it is possible as well. I can honestly say that I will miss my colleagues and the hustle and bustle tremendously when I am gone.”


Peter van den Molengraaf, Spot welder