Remembering VDL Bus & Coach founding father Wim van der Leegte: A self-made business titan and champion of employment

30 November 2023

The bus world mourns the loss of Wim van der Leegte, a self-made entrepreneur who, at the age of 76, left behind a legacy of more than 100 companies and 16,000 employees. VDL Bus & Coach being one of them. His remarkable journey serves as an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs, and his dedication to creating employment has left an indelible mark on the industry. Van der Leegte's impact extends beyond the boardroom; he was a beloved figure among his employees, and his influence resonated in various sectors, including the world of buses, where he shared a special connection with Busworld.


A self-made success

Wim van der Leegte's story is one of determination, hard work, and a relentless pursuit of success. Starting from humble beginnings, he built an empire. His ventures touched various industries, showcasing his versatility and entrepreneurial prowess. Van der Leegte's journey stands as a testament to the possibilities that arise from unwavering dedication and a visionary mindset.


A champion of employment

He was known for his commitment to creating job opportunities. With a workforce of approximately 16,000 employees across his ventures, he actively contributed to economic growth and development. His belief in the transformative power of employment was reflected in his efforts to build and sustain businesses that not only prospered but also provided livelihoods to thousands. VDL Bus & Coach employs 1,800 persons.


Busworld connection

Wim van der Leegte's relationship with Busworld was one marked by mutual respect and recognition. In 1999 he joined Busworld for the first time with the Berkhof brand. And from 2003 on the VDL Bus & Coach brand was a loyal name in the Busworld exhibitor list after they bought the BOVA brand and changed the company name. In 2015, Wim van der Leegte was honored with the prestigious Bus Builder of the Year award, a testament to his significant contributions to the sector. His impact on the bus industry was not just professional but personal, as he formed connections that lasted throughout his career.


As always, Wim visited the VDL Bus & Coach booth in Brussels at Busworld Europe in 2023. The photograph where he meets Lydia Peeters, Flemish Minister of Mobility and Public Works, together with his son Willem van der Leegte, captures a snapshot of his final engagement with a world that he helped to shape throughout his illustrious career.