Ebbinge: ‘Life has trained me to do this’

Pier Ebbinge (84) used to find top managers for companies, today partners for well-off clients. ‘This is so much fun. I step into someone’s life and I step out again.’

More than a year and a half ago, Pier Ebbinge moved with his wife Odine to ‘an honest farm’ just outside Zuidwolde in Drenthe. Already in the driveway, the door to the car has just opened, the tall Ebbinge treats his visit with a big smile and superlatives. ‘The life and culture here is fantastic. People are open and nice, really nice. Whether it’s the man who works in our garden or the lady behind the counter in the supermarket. It means a lot, you know.’

Pier Ebbinge (The Hague, 1938) studied economics at Erasmus University. Driver Pier Ebbinge Relation. Married to Odin. Like Odine, he has two children from his first marriage. They have two grandchildren.

You enter the living room through the barn. Narrow corridors, three not too large rooms, including the kitchen which also serves as a dining room. There are two pans ready. One with broad beans, one with venison goulash. Prepared by Odine, who will be leaving later. Ebbinge only has to heat up the food a little later, when he has to serve lunch.

The farm (from 1900) is located in Reestdal. “There is a stream here, Reesten. On the other side you are in Overijssel. This is a very pleasant corner of Drenthe. A little further on you have a heath that is beautiful all year round. My wife and I lived in ‘s- Graveland, close to Hilversum, on Jagtlust, a country estate. A nice place, but we wanted north. Groningen could have been too. It’s fair there too. No nonsense.’

Ebbinge and his wife are ‘very young’

‘What do I mean by that? Not me, me, me. Too many people are preoccupied with the external and get stuck in applause. They need to belong: the golf club, a community. Out of uncertainty, to stay afloat. I don’t have time for that anymore. I don’t want it either, neither does my wife. We are interested in people – we like open people. Not that you won’t find them elsewhere, but you will find more in the north.

We are in a phase of life where you know it will be less. Here, if you’re lucky, you can go to the 95

‘This farm is suitable for when you get older. Not that we feel old, we are very young, but we are in a phase of life where you know it is getting smaller. Here you can, if you’re lucky, go to 95.’

In the hallway, overlooking the living room, there is a desk with a PC on it. Ebbinge nods. “That’s where I work.” He has been running Pier Ebbinge Relationship since 2010. He is looking for partners for well-to-do men and women: those in their fifties, sixties, seventies, sometimes a little younger or a little older. His oldest client was a ‘gentleman of 91’. On average, he does ten assignments a year.

His searches are not done overnight

The advertisements that Ebbinge writes for this are striking because of the language he uses and the staccato style he uses. They are in the Saturday editions of Financial Times, NRC and de Volkskrant. The last advertisement was written for a ‘Citizen of the World and doctor; nice person, allure (75); tropical child and expatriates in tropical countries’.

On behalf of that client, Ebbinge is looking for ‘a partner who will live life with commitment, humor and a smile’ and who is, among other things, ‘meaningful and modest, agile, authentic and solid’. Aiming: ‘Ultimately one program with room for its own life, a home base.’

Ebbinge does not happen overnight. Anyone placing an assignment with him must first complete a list of eighty questions. “Those are the facts.” He then visits his client’s home for an interview that usually lasts three hours. ‘The housing and living environment says a lot about who you are. That’s why I want to see it. My first comment is almost always: We are all a product of the life that lies behind us. I ask questions about education, work, previous relationships and leisure interests, but also about the parental home. Were there exemplary features, incentives or not?’

His ads are very personal stories

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