The Face of Johannus, ep.2: Once Gerald has delivered the parts at the Johannus factory, Dirk-Jan is the first to start working on them

Twee mannen met bril, de een bouwt aan orgels de ander bij een vrachtwagen voor het transport van orgels

The wonderful sound of Johannus organs can be heard all over the world, from America to Australia, and from Sweden to South Africa. Every single one of these many thousands of organs was devised, developed and built in the heart of the Netherlands. Through a series of interviews, we’re going to introduce you to the people behind these wonderful organs – the people who, along with their colleagues, make up Johannus. Please allow us to introduce logistics employee Gerald van Schoonhoven and technician Dirk-Jan Costerus.

As soon as logistics employee Gerald van Schoonhoven has carefully delivered the newly manufactured organ cabinets to Ede, technician and number-one Johannus fan Dirk-Jan Costerus gets to work on the interior. “I love developing, creating and producing things. And it’s fantastic that I can combine that with my love for digital organs.” 

Gerald drives all over the country in his brand-new Scania. First, some more about that truck. It’s proudly borne the name of Johannus’ parent company, Global Organ Group (GOG) for a while now. Gerald sometimes fields questions about it, for instance when he’s filling up at a gas station. People react a bit surprised and say: “What, you transport organs?” “I think that’s rather funny. There are organ pipes on the truck, but I don’t think a lot of people know what those are these days. Hence all the questions, haha.”

So the only organs that you will find in his truck; are the ones used for musical purposes. Gerald follows fixed routes throughout the Benelux region (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg). “I often visit artisanal cabinet makers who really still use a hammer and chisel in their work. They make custom organs, completely in accordance with the customer’s wishes.” 

Organ transport is precision work

There’s a pile of about 50 blankets in the back of his truck. Transporting organs takes a great deal of care. “The blankets are in the back on the left-hand side, folded with military precision. I want to present a good image to our customers of course, but it’s also just because I love my job. I use the blankets to cover the organ consoles. This isn’t pallet transport – the consoles are all separately loaded in the cargo compartment. I make sure they’re loaded securely so that they can’t slide around. And of course, I take a very controlled, anticipatory approach to driving. I drive over the smallest bumps with the greatest of care, so that the organ consoles arrive at their destination undamaged.”

Upon arriving in Ede, he checks his cargo to ensure that the consoles are in perfect condition, everything is present and correct, the colors are right, and so on. “Sometimes a consoles has a scratch or dent. We can repair minor blemishes ourselves, but we reject the console if it is seriously damaged. It has to be in perfect condition if we send it out.”

More than just driving

Gerald does more for the Global Organ Group than just drive his truck. “Once when I was on vacation in Poland, I visited a local cabinet maker with my wife. They were new to supplying Johannus, and I wanted to be there to help them with loading and ensure that the organs would arrive undamaged in Ede. My wife is involved in work for Johannus every once in a while, by the way. For example, she sometimes collects or delivers smaller parts in her car.”

Another of Gerald’s official tasks is to ensure that the driving is done as economically as possible. “I plan out the trips together with the production assistant. I used to run my own transport company, so I know exactly where and how to economize. We’ve also recently started driving a new truck that is considerably more environmentally friendly than the previous one. This one has a much larger cargo compartment, so we can save one trip every two weeks.”

Ongoing adjustments

Once Gerald has subjected all of the parts to a thorough inspection in Ede, it’s time for Dirk-Jan Costerus to get started. “I receive the empty organ cabinets, and it’s up to me to wire it all up. I install the speakers, the manuals, the stop boards, the setzer slats, the stops, the unit board, the swell pedals, the lights and the switches, and I connect the electronics. The organ then goes to the next station for final tuning and any necessary adjustments.”

On average, Dirk-Jan works on a living room organ for just under a day. Larger organs can sometimes take up to five days. “It takes hours just to do all the e-paper screens on the LiVE III. On top of that, people often want to make modifications to the larger organs, such as adding an extra stop, a change in tuning, an extra sound package, and so on. That takes a lot of time too, but custom organs are a lot of fun to make.”

When I grow up

Working at Johannus, now part of the Global Organ Group, is a boyhood dream come true for Dirk-Jan. “When I was in elementary school, we kept a scrapbook. During 4th grade, I wrote on one of the pages: ‘When I grow up, I want to work at Johannus.’ I’ve always been very attracted to the company. As long as I can remember, we had a Johannus at home that we’d received from my grandparents. Later on we bought a Johannus ourselves, and one of my sisters took it with her when she left home. A little while ago I bought my own Johannus – a LiVE. I built it here all by myself, which was great fun.”

Dirk-Jan has been attending the Johannus Open Factory Days since he was young. This only made him more keen to work at the company. A few years after completing his electrical engineering degree, he sent Johannus an open application in 2019. “They hired me on my 22nd birthday – how great is that? That was the best birthday present I’ve ever had. I love developing, creating and producing things. It’s fantastic that I can combine that with my love for organs.”

Previously published:The Face of Johannus, ep.1: Dirk saw Johannus grow to become the global market leader