In conversation with Eijerkamp
In conversation with Hans and Evert Jan Eijerkamp
Few pigeon fanciers can delight in as famous a name as Eijerkamp. In particular it was the formula, a pigeon of excellent descent as a bonus for purchasing furniture that gave Eijerkamp fame. The formula was stunningly simple. Buy the best pigeons that money could buy and give the fanciers a chance to acquire the good blood lines. Underscore chance.
Eijerkamp also became well known due to:
- The radio and television advertising for their furniture.
- Sponsoring the pigeon sport in many facets
- The achievements of Eijerkamp pigeons on other lofts
- Naturally the achievements on their own lofts
- In Belgium because sometimes they outdid even the Chinese when they had set their minds on a particular pigeon. As an example think about the Leo Heremans sale.
Father and son not only want to succeed in everything they do, they are also very down to earth and friendly people. Which explains why people such as Stickers Donkers, Leo Heremans and Stefaan Lambrechts visited them after their business dealings.
Their main characteristic, is their drive and ambition. Father Hans, now 79, is very pleased when they have good results and is dissapointed when they are less so. His will to win is still as strong as it was 64 years ago.
He follows the pigeon sport constantly, on his IPhone, his IPad, and the internet. Who else at his age still does that? But they do have a problem. An Eijerkamp has to wear two hats 365 days a year.
-Under one hat, hides a fancier who wants to win everything, continually wants to improve himself and has a strong heartfelt dislike for losing.
-Under the other hat hides a business man, as naturally, they are not running a charity. They do want to see a return on the fortune they have invested in acquiring the best that flies in both Holland and Belgium, under their roof.
They have managed to combine both interests wonderfully well. It was time to ask, these passionate fanciers, with their seldom seen winner" s mentality, some questions. Questions that no one has ever dared to ask them, for which we received answers no one has ever been able to read before.
But first let" s look at some of the highlights of their impressive pigeon career.
Evert Jan en vader Hans
Here we really had a problem. Pointing out the Olympiade pigeon, the National Ace Pigeons, the National Championships etc. would turn this into a very long story. We had to make a choice and that choice is, their superabundance of NPO victorious, called Nationals by many.
1st National Munchen 1,580 pigeons with 'Sylvie'
1st National NPO Orleans 14,285 pigeons with 'Che'
1st National NPO Blois 5,963 pigeons with 'Lady Blois'
1st National NPO Bourges 10,040 pigeons with 'Miss Antonia'
1st National NPO Bourges 7,600 pigeons with 'Michelle'
1st National NPO Peronne 14,252 pigeons with 'Celena'
1st National NPO Nanteuil 8,663 pigeons with 'Olympic Vivian'
1st National NPO Nanteuil 5,887 pigeons with 'Usain'
1st National NPO Mantes de Jolie 4,088 pigeons
1st National NPO Troyes 10,281 pigeons with 'Catharina Amalia'
1st National NPO Ruffec 9,606 pigeons with 'Morticia'
They also mentioned that the 2012 One Million Dollar Race in South Africa, as far as they could remember was won by an Eijerkamp pigeon.
Now time for my questions and answers from father Hans and son Evert Jan.
In which year did you come up with the 'pigeons for furniture' idea?
A very long time ago. You should know that in 1950 I was already obsessed with pigeons that is obsessed with good ones. Right of the start, as a young man I understood that no one was going to bring them to me. So I went to work and began saving. Working and saving. My first pigeon clock was purchased in 1951. It cost 300 Gulden and it took me six years to pay it off. At that time I also purchased pigeon vouchers from Desmet Mathijs and Delbar and in 1965 five pigeons were bought from Ko Nipius for 100 Gulden each. That was a fortune at that time and for me it was a painful bloodletting. But it paid off as I quickly had good pigeons. So good in fact that I soon had many friends, people who all wanted pigeons from me.
Someone said to me 'if I buy furniture from you, will you give me a good pigeon?' That" s where the idea came from. That was sometime in 1961. It became real serious in 1966 when we began advertising in the NP Orgaan (National Pigeon Organization newspaper).
You strive to reach the top, both in sport and business and pigeons are what ties the two together. Isn" t that difficult at times?
Very difficult. The problem is, that we want to excel ourselves and also want to treat people well and be fair with them. It would be a lot easier if we could see what" s inside the pigeons head. Naturally not everything we breed is a super pigeon, but we do our best. That was proven again on Saturday September 13, on a real tough NPO race. Engelsman won the 1st NPO with a pigeon he got direct from us. Another one from Heremans.
The ultimate pigeon enjoyment here, as for others, would be seeing the pigeons come home, that is before the others. Without doubt you also have setbacks. Which were the greatest?
We like many could complain about some of the release decisions. Troyes, 450 km with a strong headwind in September not going up till 11:10 a.m., is still not as bad as what was done in Belgium from Gueret, but we are pretty well over it now. We also read your logbook daily and are fully in agreement with you. The NPO is too narrow minded. Why not take an example from the Belgians and provide some 'suspense and excitement' by for example, having several National races every year, like we did before from Blois and Le Mans? The difference in distance is a lot but isn" t that why we have zones?
What are your favourite memories in the pigeon sport and what are your worst?
My best memory is of winning the National Championship in 1983.
A nightmare was what we experienced during that time. Our pigeons in the basket sank through their legs, they couldn" t stand up. Doping many called out. Later it seems that someone had squeezed the pigeons. We couldn" t believe that someone could do that. But what we experienced in our private lives cut even deeper. When our son and brother Martin, was taken away from us in a car accident. So young, only 20, and did he ever have the pigeon sport in his fingers, even at that early age. He was truly destined to becoming a real talent. And of course my wife Joke, who stood by me for 40 years, left us much too early. Also for the Eijerkamp" s not everything on this earth, comes up roses and moonshine.
It seems like everything here runs smoothly almost by itself, but I would think that Eijerkamp also make mistakes. Can you tell us about some of them?
Naturally we also make mistakes. The biggest one was always wanting more, because we thought that more was better. That" s how our 'upstairs loft' became way too big with way to many frills. We could never get real form on that loft. By always wanting MORE you eventually get in your own way.
Can you tell us about some of the things you surely must have done right?
In connection with our last answer. In 1977 we purchased this property and on the top floor we built a large and very luxurious pigeon loft.
But, that wasn" t the answer. In 1980 we bought a second hand garden loft and the pigeons in the simple garden loft flew circles around the birds housed in the pigeon palace. From those simple lofts the pigeons won the National Championship and there was an Olympiade pigeon amongst them. Afterwards we put up two more garden lofts, I think you can understand why. So the theory that attic lofts are better, isn" t true. At least not for us.
Or maybe it has something to do with our location?
Who do you depend on to manage such a large pigeon colony?
The main ones Gerard Boesveld and Henk Jurriens.
If you needed to strengthen your loft this coming winter, where would you look, where would you invest?
In fact our strength is that we are always searching. We would think of names such as De Saer and also yourself Ad. We have seen how many others have had spectacular result with your pigeons. Although, there is a hidden danger in always searching. That is that there comes a point in time when you ask yourself, 'where are those good ones we used to have?'
We are careful not to let it get to that point. We nurture our old strains. Especially the Jansen" s. Did you know that once we acquired direct out of the Merckx? What good pigeons they were. That strain and also the van Loons, still are in the background of many of our better pigeons.
What do think is the biggest fable/or bull in the pigeons sport?
That pigeons can be made to fly better with medication.
Who has taught you the most?
Piet de Weerd and also from Willem de Bruijn.
Which transactions brought you the most success in the pigeon sport? In other words where did your best pigeons come from?
- To begin with the Camphuis pigeons. In 1981 we bought the famous '05'and in 1983 the entire Camphuis loft.
The pigeons we bought from the Janssen" s out of the 'Bange van 51', the 'Bange van 64'and the two daughters of the renowned 'Merckx' clicked enormously well with the Camphuis pigeons.
- In 1973 we bought a round of 100 youngsters from van der Wegen. Especially out of 'Oud Doffertje', the 'Lange' etc. Those were real good pigeons for the long distance. In 1977 we won the 5th National Pau with them, way back in the overflight.
- We purchased many others that we could not test ourselves due to the demand from our customers.
- The van Loon pigeons came mainly from Antoon van Haaren, Leo v.d. Werff and Staf Theeuwes.
- In 2006 we added the Leo Heremans pigeons. You had advised Willem to buy some there, they were successful immediately. It was Willem who told us about the Heremans. Of to Vorselaar we went and bought 30 for our breeding loft and 30 to race with. Never have we had so much success with a new acquisition. UNBELIEVABLE. That" s why we bought so many for so much money at his first 'total sale'.
- It was in 2012, again on the advice of Willem that we bought the 3rd round from Stefaan Lambrechts. These pigeons have also done enormously well for us, but the hunt for still better never stops here. That" s why we recently ordered 10 pigeons, out of their very best, from Verkerk.
Can you give us some more detail on the expensive Heremans pigeons?
No problem. We bought 20 some pigeons, almost all his best, for about 120,000 Euros on his first 'total sale'. The 'Euro' at 28,800 Euros was the most expensive.
When he again had a total sale we bid more than 1 million. Again with the thought that Leo would actually stop, but unfortunately we had guessed wrong.
You have purchased from everywhere. This must give you an insight on quality and competition. The best pigeons are where?
That would surely be, leaving the long distance aside, in the Berlaar area.
Do you read much? Do you use the internet?
We love to read about pigeons. Evert Jan: 'Pa can keep himself busy all day with his IPad and IPhone. Oh, something else. From Chris Hebberecht we also got some very good pigeons. Friendly Belgian that Chris.'
Lofts are important. You too are always looking and undoubtedly have already modified your lofts a great deal. Which of those modifications made an improvement or made them worse?
For us it was how higher the roof and how much more air how much poorer the lofts were.
We had very nice lofts, you would not believe how luxurious they were. Then, when we bought simple (second hand) garden lofts, as we said earlier, there was an enormous improvement.
Numerous fanciers have become champions with your pigeons. Which of these give you the most satisfaction?
Naming names would be going too far but we get references daily from both here and abroad. From Bangladesh, Canada, USA, United Kingdom, Belgium, China, Croatia etc. In 2014 there were 15 National and NPO wins won by descendants of Eijerkamp pigeons. We are just as happy with these performances as we are with our own results.
You have had visits here, from quite a number of top fanciers. Which of them gave you the impression of knowing something about pigeons?
In particular, Pete de Weerd, but the veterinarian Marien also made quite an impression. Once we had, to say it politely and unsightly pigeon here. It was rejected by everyone, except for Marien.
He thought it was a super and that" s what it became. Even a National Ace Pigeon. In any case he can never ever pick out a bird here again.
Which pigeon is the best you have ever had?
That without a doubt is our 'Che' of 2004. As a yearling he won 9th NPO Orleans. As a 2 year old he flew 1st from Arras against circa 9,000 pigeons and 5 days later he won 1st NPO Orleans against 15,000 pigeons. He is still out of our old kind and carries a lot of Janssen blood.
'Che' has produced Ace Pigeons into the 4th generation amongst them our 'Lady Di', a great grandchild, and 1st National Ace Pigeon Eendaagse Fond (one day long distance) from the Fondspiegel 2012. Another great grandson 'Claudio Che', locally was the 1st Provincial Ace Pigeon Eendaagse Fond.
Who is the best breeder that you ever had?
The same 'Che' maybe? Or else the 'Jackpot' (from 2003 a Heremans). That is the 'Jackpot' who is father of the famous 'Di Caprio' for Dirk van Dijck and our 'Olympic Vivian'.
Currently you fly in Belgium together with Berke and Michel Willems at the long distance. How did you come to form this unique team?
Via Roger Wijnands we had visited this champion in Eisden ' Maasmechelen and immediately we seemed to 'click'. Soon after this Berke and Michel returned the visit and came to Brummen and in the fall of 2012 the partnership of Willems ' Eijerkamp was born and in 2014 resulted in winning the 2nd National Ace Pigeon Long Distance KBDB with 'Reuben'.
By now you may think Hans and son owe their results to the Heremans birds mainly?
They had an enormous impact on their family indeed, but this does not mean we should underestimate the others. The Stefaan Lambrechts birds they own won against thousands of birds but a pigeon called Che (04-1560084, see photo) deserves special attention. It is from their old renowned Jannsen and van Loon strain and a "one in a life time" bird. "Che" won:
- Orl'ans NPO 14.285 p - 1st
- Arras 9.641 p - 1st
- Orl'ans NPO 18.184 p - 9th
- Bourges 1.834 p - 9.
Winning against so many birds is one thing, producing champions is something else.
Descendants of "Che" won following prizes or champion ships:
- 1st Peronne NPO 38.775 p
- 1st Nivelle 27.965 p
- 1st Laon 27.258 p
- 1st Epernay 13.077 p
- 1st National Bourges 8.579 p
- 1st NPO Tours 6.565 p.
- 1st NPO Peronne 5.282 p.
- 1st NPO Orl'ans 5.153 p.
No less than 3 birds that descended from "Che" became National Ace as well as the 3rd Olympiad bird Nitra
(category D). No wonder they are so proud of this pigeon.
Hans and Evert Jan Eijerkamp are good fanciers and good business people and which shows that they have a good head on their shoulders.
From a simple 'furniture seller' and pigeon fancier with a mini loft Hans has grown into someone who is known in all corners of the world.
Naturally, assisted by Evert Jan, who like his father was obsessed with pigeons since early childhood.
'Assisted' is not really the right word. They always do everything together.
Star status doesn" t interest them, they remain 'just ordinary people'. There is no trace of pretence in them and in that respect they remind me of the Janssens. The last years of their pigeon career you could depend on Louis calling to tell me how well they had flown that week, feeling just as lucky as a child with their win, even if it was only in the club.
Hans and Evert Jan have experienced much and have won a great deal. But today, as in the past, they delight in each and every success.
Because real sportsmen never lose the thrill of winning. Not even if your name is Eijerkamp.
One more thing:
In the beginning of this century a new star was born.
His name: Leo Heremans. Between 2000 and say 2012 the Leo Heremans birds were considered the best pigeons of the world.
He auctioned his birds twice and the second one broke all records. Over 4 million (!)
euro were paid for about 500 birds.
Since Eijerkamp was Always interested in the best of the best nearly all top racers of
Heremans were bought and are the new Goldmine of the Eijerkamp stud.
The photos speak for themselves. We also inserted a photo of Che since this is also
an exceptional bird.