Friday, July 27, 2012

Remembering a dear friend, Jan-Paul van den Hurk of RPI-Paro

A memorial fund has been set up to help with Jan-Paul's family during this transitional time.  Please give generously at

We often try to separate 'business' from 'personal' in our work lives. Many times that just does not work.  Such is the case with the sudden passing of my friend and business associate Jan-Paul van den Hurk, CEO of the Paro Group BV, Founder of Book Factory Systems, and SVP of Business Development for RPI-Paro BV.

There are times when you are investigating partnerships that you meet someone you just know is the right guy.  Such was the case when Brian Segnit from xerox introduced me to JP as Blurb was looking to expand our nascent book business into Europe.  JP and I exchanged a couple of emails and before I knew it he was on a plane from The Netherlands to Seattle to meet me in person.  It was obvious the guy was an entrepreneur and got it from the start.  Not long after, our COO Pete Wheelan and I flew to Europe on one of our many-days-in-many-cities tours to find a partner who shared our vision.  Pete saw the same things in JP that I had and it was the beginning of a business relationship that has continued since.

JP was not just Blurb's 'vendor' in Europe.  From the beginning he viewed his role as that of an ambassador for us in Europe.  With his help that market represents over 1/3 of our revenues, and we owe much to his efforts, connections, and passion.

Always the entrepreneur,  JP took over Paro in the mid-90's.  A long-established printing company that was originally in the typewriter business in Geldrop, he created an entity increasingly specialized in printing high-quality marketing materials and catered to companies like Philips that wanted to outsource the entire print process. To  guide this, Paro developed more activities in the field of strategic marketing and communication, creation, design, graphic design, software development and organization. 

Along with partner and engineer extraordinaire Peter Sygall, JP founded Book Factory Systems in 2008, allowing for books that are not only be printed automatically, but also simultaneously bound and packaged, providing extra processing speed and efficiency, and decreasing labor costs.

Last year JP's efforts were rewarded when the company was acquired by RPI in Seattle, creating RPI-Paro BV, which JP was SVP of Business Development at the time of his passing.

JP is survived by his lovely wife Astrid, and four children Sophie, Eline, Paul and Olaf, who he loved and cherished as much as a man can.  The family and friends will be saying farewell to him this Monday, July 30th and if you knew him (or knew of him or are touched by his story) a memorial site has been created in order to raise funds for the family he left behind.  Please give generously if you can at There are also links there to a condolence page as well as contact information for the family.

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