Jaco van der Jagt en Marinus de Bruijn take a glance back into the past and look towards the future

They were once colleagues and in 2006, when on their way to a client, Marinus asked Jaco if he wanted to take over his father’s company in due course. “I’d like to run my own business someday, but I’m not interested in any small-scale business like my dad’s oyster basket business,” was Jaco’s reaction. It was these words which lead Marinus to think of Jaco when he was in need of a business partner.

In the years that followed, Marinus’s desire to become his own boss became increasingly clear. He explored various options and then went straight ahead and took the bull by the horns. “That’s Marinus in a nutshell. If he believes in something, he goes for it. His wife Claudie told me he had been contemplating starting his own business for years and eventually she had to tell him either to do it, or to stop going on about it! In 2009 he took on the challenge and look what happened!”

“We were on our way to Peka Kroef at the time. Now one of FoodeQ’s biggest customers,” laughs Marinus, who earned his spurs as an engineer, project and sales manager at Numafa and at Tummers Machinebouw. He had overseen several major international projects and had built up an entire network. “I always had my own ideas about certain matters and had to deal with a director-owner, which meant that I could never totally follow my own preferred path. The desire to go it alone had been an unscratched itch for many years, because I was convinced a whole array of affairs could be improved upon and I saw opportunities because I believed in myself and had the self-confidence of an army.”

Small beginnings, but huge ambitions

It was January 1, 2009, in the middle of the credit crunch, but Marinus was ready to make his move. “I had my plans worked out and I just got on with it. Reckless? Maybe a little, but what did I have to lose? I had so much experience and my nearest and dearest were all behind me. The worst-case scenario would be having to look for another job after a year of two, but at least I would have tried. You don’t know if you can do anything until you try. It wasn’t all plain sailing, but I didn’t regret it for a second.”

FoodeQ geschiedenis

An office located on the Dutch dike, and one hell of a Dutch success story

He started out in a converted barn next to his house on the dike in Dinteloord. “It was great to be able to work from home with two small children, and I didn’t have to rent an expensive office building. That was a blessing, because I had to earn a living first. My former employer Tummers gave me a flying start, because the first few months he continued to hire me for two days a week and Ecotax – my brother-in-law, Henk Moerland’s company – had engineering work for me from the start. In any case I had some regular income coming in and in the remaining time I drove all over the Netherlands and Belgium informing all who would listen about our fledgling company and what we were able to offer potential clients. I was a one-man band, but always spoke in the plural form because that sounded far more credible. It didn’t take long before I found out about VDL Systems. They delivered industrial vibrators predominantly to one large client, whilst this market was actually far more extensive. VDL Systems were looking for someone to sell their machines, and that’s the market I feel most at home in. I know the customers and their needs and from that moment on I not only had a great story, but also a great product.”

That Jaco would be there by my side was always my intention

“2009 was fantastic in terms of acquisition. I was able to make the market sit up and take notice, however it soon became obvious that it was impossible to continue doing everything myself. Even when we finally managed to book a holiday, I was constantly working, and we came home earlier than planned. Hans Vermeeren came to do his internship with us, and we had to work on an assignment. I understood that I had to find reinforcements, and it was clear to me that I had to have Jaco with me. He’s the best engineer I know and a very nice guy to work with. I called him in December 2010 and by the end of 2011 we had struck a deal. He was interested, but only on an equal footing and not on an employee/employer basis. That was understandable and we have been partners since January 2012, after which point things took off really quickly. It’s easier to build if you have someone next to you who you can trust blindly.” Jaco responds: “We’re not total opposites, but Marinus is a little more impulsive and I’m a little more conservative. I am, so to speak, Marinus’s critical reflection and as such we complement each other perfectly and keep each other focussed. The division of roles suits us, I am responsible for the operational matters and Marinus takes care of the sales and if necessary, we are each others backup.”

Take off …

The number of clients grew. “In the meantime, we were also developing our own products and people were joining us, which meant that everything was gaining momentum.” The office on the dike soon became too small and in September 2014 it was moved to the Zilverhoek 10 in Steenbergen. “An existing building, an empty shell really and therefore adaptable to our requirements. A lot of property and little land, which was ideal in those early years, as we didn’t have much spare cash.”

The warehouse space was a particular godsend. Up to this point we had used Jaco’s father’s barn, who had an oyster farm in Yerseke, to experiment and test our inventions. “It was great to be able to use the barn,” explains Jaco, “but it wasn’t really practical. From now on we had everything under one roof, which greatly improved efficiency and effectiveness.”

“Where is your factory? I only see barking dog!”

They now owned a building located on a real business estate and for the first time their name also appeared on the facade. Marinus comments: “We were always proud of what we did, but the barn on the dike had little allure, and from the outside you had no clue about what kind of innovative thinking was going on inside. I remember we once had Japanese visitors and the guy called to say he couldn’t find our premises on the dike. ‘Where is your factory? I only see barking dog!’ He was standing at the door, but he couldn’t believe that this was the home of the big FoodeQ Engineering! Afterwards we had a laugh about it, and he has since visited us often, so he has been able to see the progress we have made.”

FoodeQ geschiedenis

Positive vibes

The new building on the Zilverhoek offered plenty of space for growth and its professional image had an enormous positive appeal.
“For the first time, we were able to receive clients in an appropriate setting. Until then, we usually took new clients with us to VDL,” adds Jaco. “This was a turning point. More and more often we were directly approached by customers, a total change around from the days when Marinus had to explain who we were and what we could do.” Marinus remembers it like yesterday. “I remember the first time I sat round the table with McCain Foods Holland. I had only recently started for myself and had only turned a few K in turnover, so used the fact that I had the reputable VDL backing me, a company with billions of sales. The very first order I received from Oerlemans Foods was even administered via VDL in terms of invoicing, but little by little we gained the trust of the market and secured our place at the table. Today, FoodeQ is a global name and a synonym for world-class vibration technology and food processing equipment, but it took time.”

From initial draughts to complete turnkey projects

The complexity of the assignments increased over the years. It all started with draughtsmanship, a first industrial vibrator and just a small project. Nowadays it involves multidisciplinary turn-key projects in which the customer can be sure that everything is taken care of from start to finish. “Customers appreciate our knowledge of the sector and the interests at stake, our personal attention, our delivery reliability and the quality of the products we supply. A deal is a deal, always. We are a sparring partner who is able to turn ideas into workable outcomes. Engineering, building and commissioning, the entire package from a single source. We have been supplying machines of all shapes and sizes for 10 years and these machines need to be maintained, which has led to the expansion of our service team. More people will join us in the near future, because it’s obvious that service and maintenance are becoming more and more important.”

Focus on sustainability and new products

FoodeQ has a reputation to uphold when it comes to delivering high quality products. “Machines must run. A halt in production costs money, so quality and reliability must never be called into question. Furthermore, ease of maintenance – also in the context of food safety – is extremely important, and sustainability is becoming an increasingly serious issue. We take that into account in the design and try to come up with smarter and more energy-efficient machines.”

“Service, maintenance and sustainability are becoming increasingly important”

FoodeQ machines operate all around the world. “These are often prototypes that have been built according to the customer’s specifications. More and more often, however, there is also a demand for products we have already developed. In other words, standard products to which we only need to make minimal adjustments so that they exactly meet the customer’s requirements. This allows for speedier delivery and further increases our market share. The demand for industrial vibrators is still growing, but we also focus on the development of machines for product treatment such as steaming and blanching. This is where part of the growth in turnover will derive from in the coming years.”

Talented people are the basis for success

“The time of doing everything by ourselves has long since passed. That’s good for us, because it also means that you have a private life and can go on holiday with peace of mind, but it also provides a level of assurance to our customers. They can rest assured that everything will continue to run smoothly and that every department will always be staffed and accessible.”

Today, the FoodeQ team consists of some twenty-five specialists who have been carefully selected over the years. “It’s a healthy mix of seniority and young talent. We outsource all production, so in addition to our own staff, we also provide employment for 30 to 40 people at our suppliers. We have formed a management team and, in all positions, we have people who dare to and are able to take responsibility for their own actions. There’s no typical profile, it’s a personal issue. Good technicians may be scarce, but we think it’s just as important that they also fit in well with the team. As an accredited apprenticeship company, we always provide a workplace for trainees and graduates, which affords us the opportunity to spot young talent and a number of these talents have since joined the company. Additional manpower also means that you have the room to specialize and learn from each other. Some are more creative than others, others are better at making strength calculations or writing user manuals, so we learn from each other and continue to grow.”

FoodeQ team

“If they need an industrial vibrator, then FoodeQ must be seared on the brain”

Marinus: “In 2009, we fought our way into the market. Self-promotion was required in spades, and then we needed to explain in detail why we were the party they should be working with. It has since become a lot easier and before long we expect anyone in need of an industrial vibrator will automatically come to us. From this point on, you don’t just have to supply excellent products, but also organise service and warranty properly. That is why we have strengthened our service team and are keeping spare parts in stock so that we can further tailor the type of maintenance contracts to the individual customer’s wishes.”

Growth is unstoppable

“Growth is unstoppable and you shouldn’t want to, because then your customers will have to turn down sales. In 2017 we bought the land for the new building. Multiple plans have been reviewed. How big a premises did we want to have and were able to build? After much thinking, we finally came up with a design fit for the future. Construction started in mid-2018 and it was wonderful to be able to move here in October 2019. A building which incorporates sustainable energy without a gas connection and one with plenty of natural light. A perfect working environment for our staff. From this magnificent home base, we aim to continue building cordial and profitable business relationships with you in the coming years.”

Neem contact op met Marinus de Bruijn

FURTHER DETAILS?WE WOULD LOVE TO HELP YOU!