First steps towards internationalisation
VPK took its first steps abroad in 1977. The choice fell on the Netherlands for logical reasons: the local market offered interesting growth prospects, with a common language and a familiar culture.
The first phase took place via a sales office. At that time, all deliveries were made from the site in Oudegem, Belgium. The first local production started in Gorinchem in 1985, with a sheet plant exclusively dedicated to the converting process of corrugated cardboard.
When VPK decided a few years later to switch to integrated production, with its own corrugator, a brand new site had to be found in the nearby region. This would enable the easy transfer of personnel, which eventually brought VPK to Raamsdonksveer, 25 years ago.
The most important milestones in 25 years of VPK Raamsdonksveer
Over this period, VPK has continuously invested in optimisation and sustainable growth. The first expansion of the building took place in 1998. But 2016 in particular marked a milestone. In that year we expanded the capacity by no less than 50%
: an extra floor was added to the WIP field, we renewed the corrugator and added extra converting capacity... and all this while the plant remained fully operational.
Two years later, to optimise transport and logistics following this capacity expansion, we invested in extra storage space at the opposite side of the street
. To go one step further in operational excellence, we are currently considering the construction of a bridge between the production site and the warehouse.
The result of all these investments? Production increased tenfold.
Jean-Paul Macharis was one of the founders of the Dutch site and explains the success of Raamsdonksveer as follows: “Our family character allows us to attract great colleagues, on whom we were able to count throughout the several site changes in Raamsdonksveer. And because of our long-term vision, we always invest in advanced technologies and techniques. This combination gives us a competitive advantage.”
Celebration of the 25th anniversary
The festivities were spread over two days. On 7 November, we invited customers and external relations to our new warehouse, which was festively decorated for the occasion. The following weekend it was the turn of all employees to come and party with their families. In total, the 500 attendees enjoyed a range of food trucks, entertainment for the youngest, a tour of the factory, a musical performance... and the honouring of the silver jubilarians.
Henk Eilander, team leader of the internal sales department, moved from Gorinchem to Raamsdonksveer 25 years ago and describes the working atmosphere as follows: “Even after 25 years, no day is the same! We have the opportunity to continue to grow as a company and as employees at the same time. The word boredom does not appear in our dictionary.” And that's how he sums up Raamsdonksveer’s 25 years perfectly.
...and for charity!
The festive event also supported a good cause. The external guests were invited to make a donation to Villa Pardoes, a local organisation that offers free holiday accommodation to seriously ill children and their families. Thanks to all the guests, VPK collected a total of 10,500 euros!