Long before the Second World War, Vreeswijk was a place of importance where – often after days of sailing – the ships could be supplied again. The middle class flourished, there were several groceries, bakers, butchers and towing agencies.
Harm Touwslager settled down in Vreeswijk. He sold his vessel "Harmke" - type Friese Maat (259 tonnes) - and bought the buildings no. 68 and 69 on the Handelskade, a forge and a residential building. His intention was to start a grocery and hairdresser's business, since none of his sons aspired to these professions, Harm jr. was appointed, despite the fact he actually wanted to become a teacher.
At that time Harm sr. started the towing agency and acted for an Amsterdam towage company, the so-called "Groenbanders". He brokered many ships with the well-known Groningen tug “Anna Frater”.
As a result of the Second World War and the motorization of inland shipping, the supply of work was declining. Thus son Harm came up with the idea to specialize the towing agency in dredging and contracting work. The number of clients grew steadily, operating throughout the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany. This was a labor-intensive job, especially in the 1980s, as the contacts were mainly maintained through locks, bridges, harbor masters and cafés.
When the third generation Harm Touwslager finished high school, he started working full-time in the company and soon an adjoining building (no. 67) was purchased on the ‘Handelskade’. The barber shop was closed and an additional employee Gerard Ketelaar was hired to support the company. In 1981 the office moved to a new location with a view of the river ‘Lek’. Eventually ‘Touwslager’ was taken over by Gerard, supported by his wife Ans. The work from Nieuwegein (and later in the old Vreeswijk) continued under the well-known and reliable name ‘Touwslager’.
After many intensive and rewarding years Gerard and Ans decided to retire. Coincidentally, they came in contact with Sylvia van den Hout - Jansen, who previously had ‘Sleepdienst G.J. Jansen’ and ‘St. Nederlandse Binnensleepvaart’ under her wings. At that time she was working at the ‘Coöperatieve Duwbakken Centrale’ (push barges/storage and transportation of dry bulk products) and showed interest, resulting in Sylvia and team taking over the helm and continuing the tradition of ‘Touwslager’.