Nature and technology have interested me from early on. I was eager to learn about all different kinds of animals. I spent endless hours going through books from the library, and watched nature documentaries on tv. In our garden I caught hoverflies, butterflies, and when our family went swimming in a lake, I would catch small fish with a net.

At home we had white mice as pets, which sometimes escaped. To catch them, me and my sister would build traps out of lego. Just an hour or two behind the dustbin, and the mouse was caught! After that I made all kinds of traps out of wire and wood. My goal was to become an inventor, and mousetraps are a favorite subject for those who invent stuff. When I was about seven years old, I started attending crafts school, where I learned different techniques for working with wood and metal. Every week for six years I went there.

Tom inspects a live-trap by Heslinga Traps

Tom inspects a live-trap by Heslinga Traps

On my nineteenth, I was introduced to the NJN, the Dutch youth organization for nature, and I discovered there were so many more people interested in nature. At the NJN, people also caught mice with live traps. I was amazed by how many traps they had.

What struck me even more, was the enormous costs of these traps. This while the budgets for an organization like the NJN are limited. I could hardly believe that a good live-trap was not available cheaper. After endless searching I came to the conclusion that there was really nothing on the market that was affordable and good. The traps used were at the NJN had delicate parts, and holes were sometimes chewed in the aluminum by the mice. With advice from people of NJN and John Regelink, one of my first customers, I developed a new live-trap, and in 2004 my company ‘Heslinga Traps’ was established.

At that time I studied mechanical engineering. The school workshop provided an excellent place to make my own tools for producing live traps. My teacher in business administration gave me advice on starting a business. When I founded the company, many people doubted whether a small company in the business of making mousetraps could have success, but the demand for my live traps soon proved far greater than I ever expected. This allowed ever bigger production series.

After graduating in engineering, working full time for my company was a logical choice. At this moment, one production series consists of a few thousand traps, so that now live traps can be delivered from stock. The challenge to continue to innovate and the freedom of a running my own business make this the best job I can imagine.