Norbert Krott is a manager at the sheltered workshop in Eupen, with which we work very closely as a company. Disabled and non-disabled people work there. They have the opportunity to work together on an equal footing and to excel.
Some of our products - including our "Maria & Franz" spreads and dressings - are bottled at the Beschützende Werkstätte and given the proper label. What started out as a business relationship with the sheltered workshop has now become a friendly relationship. Without Norbert and the BW, we would not be where we are today.
It all started four years ago. At that time, Norbert and his team filled and labelled about 1,000 jars a month for us. Now it's almost 70,000 jars a week. "At first we wondered if we could do it on a scale as large as a sheltered workshop," says Norbert. "But that's how it developed and worked - and we work hand in hand with the Renson family and the Conserverie & Moutarderie Belge.
We deliver our products, which are produced in our Raeren factory, to the sheltered workshop in 1000 kilogram containers. There the products are filled into jars, labelled, coded and packed. They are then transported directly to the customer or stored at BW. With "Maria & Franz", the deposit jars are now also filled and labelled for the first time at BW. "Sustainability is important, which is why we are pleased to be able to process the Maria & Franz products here," says Norbert.
At the time, our collaboration was still a project that we didn't know where it would end up. "But what we have built together in recent years is already enormous. In the future, we want to strengthen our cooperation even more, develop further and grow together.
Our reusable jars are collected, sorted, cleaned and sterilised by the Belgian company "Bring back Packaging" in Herstal. We then collect the jars clean and free of glue residue, so that we can refill them with our sauces and dressings - again and again, because this is good for our environment and saves resources.
Laurent Halmes is the director of 'Bring back' and therefore plays a central role for us when it comes to a sustainable reusable deposit system. For us, as a Belgian family business, it is important to have a local partner with 'Bring back', in order to reduce the transport distances between the washing centre and the production site as much as possible.
In addition, Laurent has been concerned about sustainability for a long time: 'Unfortunately, we don't have as good a deposit system in Belgium as in Germany. Many producers do not take back the pots because it is too complicated. Most yoghurt pots end up in the glass container and are then melted down. This generates a lot of CO2, much more than the cleaning and reuse of the reusable pots", explains Laurent. That's why he founded "Bring back", to take the burden of cleaning the value-added jars off the producers and coordinate the logistics for them.
Michael Weynand is our production manager and has been part of our team for a year now. He is a great support in the production and also takes care of our other employees. But he also has another very important task: Michael is a technology professional. He makes sure that our machines work and are repaired if necessary.
With his knowledge, he is also overseeing the construction of our new production hall, which is scheduled for completion in 2024. To ensure that the new building can be built in an optimal way, that it meets our needs and that every square metre is used in the best possible way, he is there to advise us.
We also get along very well on a friendly level: "I really appreciate the family atmosphere and I have a very good contact with the young bosses here," says Michael. "Unlike in very large companies, problems can be discussed and solved directly. Decisions are made quickly and I have a lot to say."
What Michael enjoys most about his job is the variety and the fact that there are new challenges every day. He says that our company is a company of the future, "and I am proud to be part of it".
Laurent Pierre is responsible for our logistics since 2019. He coordinates the incoming and outgoing of our products and makes sure that everything reaches the customer on time. He also checks the delivered goods that we need for the production of our sauces and dressings. What he likes most about our company is the cohesion, the teamwork and the good working atmosphere.
Rudy Bola has been in charge of our internet presence and social media channels since 2020. He has a great talent for planning and graphic design of our websites as well as for online marketing of our products. In addition to the day-to-day work, Rudy is always coming up with new projects which he then implements successfully. He particularly appreciates the fact that he can participate in the development of our company himself.
David Havenith is doing a work-study programme in Public & Business Administration. Since August 2020, he has been coordinating our orders, dealing with our customers and, of course, all incoming e-mails. Together with Rachel, he also goes to many trade fairs to represent our products. He feels at home here because he enjoys the family atmosphere and simply loves being part of our team.
Stephan Duchesne makes a major contribution to the success of our company. As a product developer, he accompanies our sauces and dressings from the idea to the market launch. He has a seventh sense for the composition of the various ingredients - what lands in his pan is usually a master stroke. And if something doesn't quite fit together, Stefan knows exactly which screw he still needs to turn to develop the perfect product.
Osmany Gonzalez has played a very important role in our company for eleven years now. As a mixer, he is responsible for the correct composition of our hot and cold sauce recipes. He is also involved in the production of mustard. He has a gift for weighing, assembling and mixing ingredients with precision. Osmani describes himself as a gourmet and enjoys being surrounded by the delicious smells of our products.
Manu Nkisi-Sakaneno has been involved in our production and our company for 20 years. He is in charge of all the production stages of our "Maria & Franz" products. As the "big boss of our production", Emanuell almost deserves a medal. He feels very comfortable in our company. "This is mainly because I consider myself part of the family," he says.
Bastien Dethier has only recently joined our team. He has a very important task: quality control. Not only does he support the improvement of work processes within the company, but he also monitors the quality of our food and products. "Accuracy and precision are very important to my work here. As a company, we are very proud to have been able to attract him as a former trainee and now as a student of agricultural sciences.
Nermin Ljujkovic works in the production area and is our all-rounder who always has something to do. He makes sure that our products are well packaged, have the right labels and end up on the right pallets. Nermin has been with our company for two and a half years and is very flexible in his work, because: "I like all types of work here. I'm not too picky about a task, I also do little things here and there that come up." So there is never a dull moment.
Ibrahim Bilen has been part of our company since 2019 and is responsible for filling our products. He works at the filling machine and also makes sure that each jar and container is properly sealed. He also checks that the labels are correctly positioned and that they contain all the important information. "It's important that I work very precisely. This is my strength, which I can use here every day.
Zoran Mikulic plays a very important role in our company. As a mixer, he faces the daily challenge of combining, weighing and mixing the ingredients of our products with precision. His strength lies in his meticulousness and great concentration, because at the end of the day, everything has to be perfect to create a perfect product. While he is working, there is always a delicious smell of our spreads and dressings in the air. "It makes you hungry sometimes, especially when you try new flavours.
Cedric Reul has been with the company for many years. He is one of our multi-skilled employees - and that is worth its weight in gold. He sees the work, takes on the tasks he is needed for at the time, prepares the mixes for our products, can operate all the machines and does not hesitate to unload our trucks from time to time. "I like the variety of my job. So I never get bored."
Christian has been working at the sheltered workshop in Eupen since January 2021, with which we work closely as a company. Our "Maria & Franz" products are partially filled and labelled there. Christian is responsible for ensuring that our spreads and dressings are not only properly sealed, but also correctly labelled. This is a particularly rigorous job. From time to time, Christian and his colleagues from the sheltered workshop also come to our company in Raeren and help us on site.