The Vroon flag flies half-mast on its offices and ships from yesterday until Friday noon, in memory of Peter (Piet) Vroon, who died on 15 June at the age of 93, according to a statement by the company.

Piet stood at the helm of the Vroon Group for many years, steering the family company during its growth from a modest Dutch shipping company into a large, internationally trading business.

Right up to his death, Piet was a daily visitor at Breskens office, organising his business interests and keeping an eye on shipping activities on the Scheldt river.

Piet was born in Breskens on 4 June 1930, as one of three children to Frans Vroon and his wife. After working in various jobs in Europe, he returned to Breskens in the early 1950s, where he joined his father and late brother Meo running the company.

For Piet it was a natural step to extend the company’s original trade as wholesalers for grain, fertilisers and coal into shipping, and the shipping company “Willem Beukelsz” was founded.

With money raised from the firm’s clients, a small coaster was bought in 1952. Trade flourished and more vessels were bought. Piet’s formula for success was to establish long-term contracts within niche trades and be technically innovative, so that each vessel could generate maximum income.

Ships were often modified and upgraded to improve earning capability.

Piet Vroon was instrumental in the decision to concentrate on shipping, including commencing the seaborne transportation of livestock in 1964, a market that forms a successful part of Vroon’s operations to this day.

Piet retired from his position as Managing Director in 1995, spending a further 22 years as a very active member of the Vroon Group Supervisory Board. In May 2017, Piet participated in his final Supervisory Board meeting.

Piet’s contributions to the Dutch company over more than 60 years earned the immeasurable respect of all current and former Vroon staff, at sea and ashore.

He was also admired in the business world and throughout the sailing community, as Piet’s main passion throughout his whole life was sailing.

Piet’s wife, Silvia, passed away in 1987. He is survived by his four children, Coco, Laura, Monica and Carlo, his 11 grandchildren, 12 greatgrandchildren and his partner, Kristin Callens.