The late 1980s were exciting times in Belgium. An intense industrialization took place that made the Belgian market extremely vibrant and prosperous. Business opportunities were everywhere and you could see progress in all different areas. During these turbulent days, the foundation was laid for a success story that continues today. For 25 years, Pepperl+Fuchs has been active in Belgium.
A hot spot of the industrialization of Belgium was the tradition-steeped harbor of Antwerp. Then as now, it was the second-largest chemical center in the world (after Houston, Texas). It was also the home port for General Motors. Several other significant car manufacturers such as Ford, Volkswagen, Renault, and Volvo were spread across Belgium as well. This promising local situation and the overall global internationalization led to the decision by Pepperl+Fuchs to found a Belgian subsidiary.
Guy Crets and Marc Van Pelt were the men who established this subsidiary from square one. In the early years, they were working in a true startup environment, using the private residence of Guy Crets as an office. By 1992, their growth was so succesful that they bought an office of their own. In 1999, it was time to take another step forward and they moved their business to an even bigger office block in Schoten, near Antwerp. This is where Pepperl+Fuchs Belgium is still located today.
The continuous growth did not stop. To improve collaboration between the different subsidiaries, Pepperl+Fuchs started to bundle them during a regionalization in 2005. Marc Van Pelt explains the underlying motivation for this step:
“Together with the corporate management, we tried to figure out the best way to subdivide the subsidiaries into regions. We based our decisions on two important factors; culture and language. It was obvious that Belgian multilingualism formed a connection between the Netherlands, France, and Luxembourg. As a result, Belgium became the headquarters of the region for the Process Automation Division. The link to Africa was the next logical step; French is the mother tongue in many African countries and the Dutch language is similar to the African language which is spoken in South Africa. And so, the region of Western Europe and Africa was born. The activities in Africa are firming up and will play an important role in the development of the region.”
Although the economic situation in the Belgian industry tended to be challenging at times, Pepperl+Fuchs stood its ground. Guy Crets gives an insight on what has been a key factor in overcoming those economic obstacles: “Our mission is to deliver the highest possible standard in quality, safety, and reliability in everything we do. We never stop innovating and we put our focus on the client. This kind of dedication always pays off and allows you to endure difficult times.”
The Systems and Solutions group demonstrates an ongoing quest for innovation. This engineering organization was created to respond to client demand for complete solutions instead of separate components. “We always wanted to make individual client applications as simple, efficient, and safe as possible. That’s what everyone at Pepperl+Fuchs strives for each and every day. For that reason, we can conclude that the staff members, with their devotion to this mission, are the key to the success with which Pepperl+Fuchs Belgium has been blessed for the past 25 years”, Guy Crets adds.
Based on this remark, it should not come as a surprise that Marc Van Pelt (Managing Director Belgium) and Guys Crets (Global Industry Manager Process Equipment) are still with the company to this day. Satisfying customer needs is not a short-term mission for the men that started out their business activities from square one in the 1980s.