1898-1927: From local carpentry to national construction

When Adam’s son Jan joined the business in 1898, the scope of the business extended from carpentry to construction. Room to expand the business was limited in Groot-Ammers and the surrounding Alblasserwaard polder, so Jan began to look for business elsewhere. 

He took temporary residence wherever he found suitable jobs, in places like The Hague and Vlaardingen (near Rotterdam). He found love, too: he married his wife in The Hague and lived with her in Vlaardingen, from where he expanded his business. In 1902, their son Joop was born.

In the first two decades of the new century, Jan’s business, Firma Jan van der Wal, built up an excellent reputation. Jan’s capabilities as a builder and an entrepreneur ensured that he landed many contracts, including some of the more prestigious in the country. In the early twenties, he built the office of the Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij in The Hague. This company, established a century earlier by King William I, played a key role in re-establishing the Netherlands as an international trading nation. It would later evolve into the ABN part of ABN AMRO Bank. The monumental building in the heart of The Hague is still in use: after a renovation it became the seat of the Dutch Council for the Judiciary in 2002.

Other notable projects in the early decades of the 20th century included banks, government buildings, churches, schools and hospitals.

In 1923, Jan celebrated both his 25th anniversary in the business and his 25th wedding anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, a film was made that showed his company’s many successful projects. Around the same time, his son Joop obtained a degree in civil engineering at the renowned Delft Institute of Technology, currently known as Delft University of Technology. His education, along with the entrepreneurial spirit he inherited from his father and grandfather, would enable Joop to take the family business to a new level. In 1926 he joined the family business, which from then on was aptly called Firma J. van der Wal en Zoon (‘and Son’).