There are some people who enter this world and are destined to make a real difference. Mans Lejeune was one such person, an entrepreneur, sportsman, businessman and above all a gentleman. Through and above all of his business achievements he was at heart a family man. However long and detailed this tribute, it will be difficult to do justice to a man who has had such a profound effect on so many people and organisations with which he has come into contact over many years.
Mans began his formal business education by graduating from Tilburg University, as an economist in 1958, a discipline which was to be the cornerstone of his whole working life, he also studied at Minnesota University. He was a great believer in Europe as an entity and became involved in the European parliament by taking a post in 1959 as Private Secretary to the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Professor Blaisse who was also a Dutch MP. Mans was very much involved with a wide range of political topics and industry problems caused by the introduction of free competition in the European Market. With all this experience behind him he decided to “change sides” and to open his own office (called Bureau Lejeune) in 1964 to start a campaign of lobbying activities at EU level in Brussels. Gradually his office transposed into managing associations of which one was FINAT. By the time he retired in 2000 more than 20 (now 25) national and international associations had chosen Lejeune Association Management (L.A.M.) as their headquarters.
Although FINAT was founded in November 1958 it was not until Bureau Lejeune in the Hague became involved in 1969 that the association really began to flourish. This was a direct result of Man’s direction and organisation. When he retired in 2000 FINAT had more than 500 members.
In the intervening years Mans Lejeune and FINAT were inexorably linked. Recently he was a major contributor and researcher for FINAT’s Golden Jubilee Book. He was also involved in two other anniversary books for FEDES, ECMA associations. It was during this project that it became very obvious the extent to which Mans had influenced the success story of FINAT. He was the prime mover in setting study tours to Japan (1974, 1978, 1982 and 1986) and the USA (1974) which proved so successful.
His organisation of the annual FINAT Congress was legend. The venues included many of the major cities throughout Europe one of the most notable being Cannes in 1996. His attention to detail made each event very special in our memories. He had an almost photographic memory and would often recall stories of incidents which had occurred during the congresses. Some of the most fond memories of Mans were him being photographed with some of the leading politicians of the day! (see the FINAT anniversary book)
Another landmark event during his tenure as Secretary General was the signing of a sponsorship agreement in 1991 between Cowise and FINAT for the Labelexpo exhibitions in Europe and Asia, which would guarantee FINAT funding to carry out many projects over the years.
In 2000 Mans handed over to Jules, his son who has managed FINAT and the other associations so successfully since. A highlight of mans retirement was the presentation of an “Andy Warhol style publication showing the many highpoints in his very busy life.
But there is another side to Mans Lejeune he was a dedicated sportsman who was involved with hockey to an international standard and was also very handy with a tennis racquet, a golf club and was an avid cyclist. In fact Mans was a leading light in the KNHB (Royal Dutch Hockey Club) in The Netherlands. He was also chairman twice of the HGC, a local hockey club, between 1980 and 1987 and was deeply involved in the organisation of the European Cup tournaments. He was made an Honorary Member for his services which included his unstinting support at every match he could get to.
One other award cannot go unnoticed is his accession as a Knight Of the Orange Order of Nassau presented by the Mayor of Wassenaar on behalf of the Queen. This was for his services to industry in The Netherlands.
Finally he was above all a true family man who balanced his working and home life to perfection. He always said that his great support through all his achievements was his wife Tonny. He leaves behind a legacy of success gained by devotion to duty and unerring eye for a good business opportunity.
There is so much more that could be said about Mans that it would take another anniversary book to record all the nuances of his life.
Mans Lejeune a true legend even in his own lifetime. We will miss him greatly.
Mans Lejeune – A FINAT Legend
1.11.1931 - 12.02.2011