Elert van der Werf was born in Sneek (Friesland) in 1874. He worked between 1891 and 1895 for the Tichelaar ceramics factory in Makkum, also in Friesland. In June 1895 he moved to Utrecht, possibly to work for one of the ceramics factories there. From there he moved to Gouda in December 1897 as one of the first employees of PZH. It is likely that he already had started there while commuting, as his 25th-year jubilee with the company was on November 1st 1923. When W Hoyng took over as General Manager in 1908 Elert was made (or already was) factory manager. From interviews with ex-employees from 1982, we know that despite their differences (Hoyng from a Roman Catholic entrepreneurs family, Elert a Dutch Reformed socialist) they got on really well. Elert was a socially caring man who for years was a socialist councilman in the Gouda city council. He is known to have created many designs for PZH. In a magazine article from 1910, he is mentioned as the main designer of the Gouda décors. In some publications, it is mentioned he was the drawing instructor at the Purmerend art school (where Egbert Estié could have met him) but this seems unlikely. Elert died on 11 June 1924 in Leiden, age 49. At the time he still was living in Gouda and working as the factory manager at PZH.
Considering his long career at PZH we did not find many pieces from his hand as a decorator. This might confirm his work as a designer as well as his increasing role in management.