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The story of Ben Pon and Jan Ames

October 10, 2022

Ben Pon, son of Mijndert Pon

You may know Ben Pon (April 27, 1904 – May 15, 1968) as a Dutch importer of automobiles. He was the son of Mijndert Pon who started the later family business in 1895. Mijndert initially focused on bicycles and sewing machines. Starting in 1920, he began importing cars, something Ben Pon continued to build on. But then, what exactly is the relationship with Ben Pon and Jan Ames? We have to go back to 1947.

The signing

On September 18, 1947, Ben Pon and Jan Ames signed the VW dealership contract that forms the basis of today’s Amega Group. 75 years later, Ames Autobedrijf is still a Volkswagen dealer and one of the larger employers in the Drechtsteden area.

Foundations were laid in 1905

The foundation for Ames Autobedrijf was laid as early as 1905 in Leerdam, when Jan Ames opened a blacksmith shop cum store for bicycles and household goods. One year later, his brother Engel also entered the business. From the moment the first cars made their appearance, a car business was also started, and the brothers successfully sold Opel and Ford. Engel Ames died in 1929, after which his son Jan took over his place in the business alongside Uncle Jan.

Ames in wartime

Jan Ames, as a breadwinner, initially received a deferment of military service, but was still drafted on May 6, 1940. The bombings in Rotterdam, resulting in many deaths and injuries, left a deep impression on him. The Ames family did not want to work for the German army as a Wehrmachtswerkstatt.

End of the war

The bicycle workshop was still running, but cars were finished when gasoline and parts were no longer available. The Germans seized the garage. Toward the end of the war, the company was cleared again. But the Ames family could not return yet, because first the Canadians came into the garage, but they helped the brothers get tools to continue the business. Later, Jan Ames drove down dumps with Ben Pon to buy up cars. The company thus regained its momentum.

Long relationship with Pon

From the moment the Ames Brothers sold bicycles, a relationship with the Pon Company was established. In addition to well-known brands, Engel and Jan Ames Sr. also dealt in Pon bicycles. In the 1920s the automobiles Essex, Ford and Opel followed. Ben Pon was the importer of the latter brand until Opel was sold to General Motors. Pon then switched to Volkswagen.

Due to good contacts with Ben Pon, Ames was awarded the Volkswagen dealership contract on September 18, 1947. At the opening of the premises on Johan de Wittstraat, Mijndert Pon, son of Ben Pon, acknowledged not only with a complimentary speech the long-standing relationship with the Ames company. He also confirmed the bond by symbolically handing over an old bicycle to Jan Ames.

Rapid growth

In the rebuilding years after the war, Ames Autobedrijf managed to experience rapid growth. Branches were added in Zwijndrecht, Papendrecht, Ridderkerk and Sliedrecht, and in Dordrecht the company also moved to larger and larger locations. When Volkswagen also incorporated other brands, it was only natural that Ames would also carry those brands, such as Audi, Seat and Skoda.

VW Bus T1 also as Amescador

Ames was also successful with Volkswagen commercial vehicles. The VW Bus T1 was an iconic sight early in its history, and Jan Ames was ahead of its time by building a camper version on that T1, the Amescador. At the end of the last and the beginning of this century, Ames grew into one of the most successful dealerships in the Netherlands.

From Ames to Amega Group

And how did it go on? Simple, since 2007 all Ames’ activities (VW, VW Commercial Vehicles, Audi, Seat and Skoda) have been housed within Amega Group. With the acquisition of dealerships for Opel (Van Mill) and Ford (Van der Burgh) and the acquisition of Groeneveld Bicycles, things have come full circle within Amega. After all, with bicycles and the car brands Opel and Ford, Ames entered the mobility business before the war.

The Volvo (Svenscar), Hyundai (H-Point), Citroën and Peugeot (Mulder) brands are also represented within Amega. Also part of the company are the bodyshops Schadenet Ames and Schadenet de Koning, the commercial vehicle fitter PSB and Mobilitics (charging station infrastructure).

Amega Group has 800 employees (600 FTE) and realized a turnover of half a billion euros with the sale of some 20,000 cars in 2021. This puts Amega Group in the 7th spot of rankings of dealer holdings in the Netherlands.

Photo below: Volkswagen ID Buzz next to the iconic Volkswagen T1.