For more than two centuries, the Bruges family business Slabinck has had an unwavering love for metal. Where the story began in the distant past as smithy car builders, grew into Carrosserie Gebroeders company Slabinck, and came into the hands of the fifth generation under the name of current owner Luc Slabinck, today Slabinck is internationally known as a supplier of sheet material and metal products for the industry. Since 2020 Slabinck has also set foot in the tile world with its own produced range of high-quality tile displays and cabinets at rock-solid prices…
Manager Luc Slabinck is confident: “As an established value, Slabinck has mastered all metalworking techniques: from lasering, punching, welding, turning and milling, to the final finish such as powder coating, wet painting, pearl blasting, insertion, as well as installation on the move. Slabinck has all quality certificates, laser certificates, the most modern measuring equipment, inspection of our paint shop, etc. If not, you simply won’t get a job in this sector.” The proof of the pudding is in the eating: with top customers such as Daikin, CNH, Bombardier, Dana or Caterpillar, Slabinck proves that it is used to playing in the highest category.
What does a metal company have to do with the tile sector, you might think? Well, the answer comes from the new technical commercial employee Yves Dhoore, who has been giving free rein to his ideas within Slabinck for a number of months. “Slabinck has been a supplier of sheet metal and lacquer work for many years to the display company Redec, where I worked for 15 years. After the company entered difficult waters at the end of 2019, I could not let go of the sector and the idea that there were successful opportunities within the industry. I sat down with Luc and he very quickly took to the idea of starting building tile displays himself. With this Slabinck is putting its own finished product on the market for the first time.
The fact that Luc Slabinck didn’t have to think long about the idea is the result of an unbreakable business model that the Bruges entrepreneur has in reserve. And he is very transparent about this: “As a supplier to a variety of industrial companies, we are not dependent on one sector and we can purchase metal in large quantities, so at very attractive prices. In addition, in 2014 Slabinck established a second branch in Skopje, Macedonia, in addition to Bruges. We have 72 employees there, 93 in Bruges. If you know that the wage cost in Macedonia is 1/4th compared to Belgium, and that we have all the necessary metal and woodworking machines, you understand that we can offer high-quality finished products to a special competitive price.
Since 2018, the transport between Macedonia and Belgium has also been 100% in-house with Macedonian drivers. We have five of our own tractor units with a trailer, a truck with a tail lift and three delivery vans for the installation. In this way, we control every link in the process ourselves. This allows us to position ourselves very competitively on the display market within the Benelux and Germany
For large groups and volumes
Luc Slabinck had been looking for their own industrial product for quite some time, which they could market themselves thanks to their very varied machinery and low labor cost solution. “I didn’t hesitate for a second and brought Yves on board. We invested in the purchase of a CNC wood milling machine, the only machine we still lacked to realize everything under one roof for the tile display market. This allows us to fully fulfill our mission, which is to supply high-quality tile displays at a very competitive price. We target customers who wish to purchase tile cabinets and tile displays for indoor and outdoor use in large volumes. I am thinking of hardware stores and do-it-yourself stores, large showrooms, groups and chains. We don’t focus on the ‘specials’. And despite being new to the market, we already have some great tile display projects running in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. In addition, we have always kept in close contact with Bart De Witte, owner of the former Redec. This has already led to new joint projects”, says Luc Slabinck.
New product, new business plan
Brand new but experncied employee Yves Dhoore has been responsible for the development of its own product range ‘Slabinck showroom & displays’ since his arrival at Slabinck. The current corona period provides him with the necessary lead-in time to integrate his entire business development into the company and to fine-tune the internal operation. From product development and managing the production team, consulting with the in-house cad cam programmers, performing quality control and optimisation, assisting with on-site assembly and inputting all materials and processing into the software package, … everything is covered.
“Slabinck showroom & displays will be far from a one-hit wonder, because it has a large and strong company behind it. As a group, Slabinck achieved a turnover of 19.5 million euros in 2019,” says Yves proudly. Moreover, I myself have 15 years of experience in the tile sector and I have built up a solid customer portfolio. We are starting with a huge lead because we know the sector, the materials, the market needs and the customers.”
Like father, like son
Anthony Slabinck also joined the company of his ancestors in 2014 as the sixth generation. Among other things, he is responsible for the Macedonian branch in Skopje, for the transport and he bears the final responsibility for the sales of the company. With this, Slabinck not only bites into current opportunities, but also ensures a strong future for the company.