Gentle Handling of Sensitive Products

Interview with Jeroen Deprez, Managing Partner and Mattias Mergaert, Head of Sales Agro at DEPREZ CONSTRUCT NV

DEPREZ CONSTRUCT NV Jeroen Deprez and Mattias Mergaert
Jeroen Deprez and Mattias Mergaert

Belgian know-how that is in demand all over the world? When it comes to the automatic handling of products, especially potatoes, onions, carrots, and other vegetables, DEPREZ CONSTRUCT NV is a top address. Four decades of experience, the highest quality standards, and a trusting close cooperation with customers make this family-owned company from Kortemark a sought-after contact worldwide.

"Sustainable customer relationships are very important to us," emphasizes Jeroen Deprez, Managing Partner of DEPREZ CONSTRUCT NV. "We listen to our customers and address their concerns and needs. This also includes providing them with very good advice." However, sustainability is not the only aspect the Belgian family business focuses on in relation to customers.

Company building of DEPREZ CONSTRUCT NV
Company building of DEPREZ CONSTRUCT NV

The same high standards also apply to the products. Jeroen Deprez: "Sustainability is always at the forefront of our devices and systems. We build them as efficiently as possible and with as little maintenance as possible." Every product that leaves the factory in Kortemark is unique. With the corporate values of the DEPREZ Care principle (Creative, Ambitious, Respectful, Excellence-Oriented), the high standards are put into practice every day.

Founders from Agriculture

As children of farmers, Johan Deprez and his wife Germaine were very familiar with agriculture when they founded the company about 40 years ago, focusing on transport handling. "The first device that was manufactured was built for handling potatoes," explains Jeroen Deprez. "It was about handling the potatoes as gently as possible to avoid damaging them." The business developed well, and with a system for the automatic handling of transport crates introduced in 1999, the young company was a pioneer in this field.

New products expanded the portfolio in the following years, so that the capacities at the former company headquarters in Ichtegem were no longer sufficient, and in 2017 the move to the current location in Kortemark took place.

Jeroen Deprez has been active in the company for about ten years, since 2022 as the operations manager and now as the sole managing partner. Of the 61,000 m² total area at the company headquarters in Kortemark, 20,000 m² are currently developed. Around 80 employees generate an annual turnover of 22 million EUR.

Accurate Design: Through 3D representation, the customer gets an early impression of what their facility will look like later
Accurate Design: Through 3D representation, the customer gets an early impression of what their facility will look like later

Globally Active

Today, the activities of DEPREZ CONSTRUCT extend to three areas: Food, Bulk Goods & Recycling, and Warehousing. 'With a share of 85%, the food sector remains our most important pillar to this day,' explains Jeroen Deprez. 'Here, the focus is primarily on the fully automatic acceptance, storage, washing, and sorting of potatoes for packaging and industrial processors. For bulk goods, our solutions enable the transportation of up to 1,000 tons of sand or gravel per hour, and for the recycling sector, we develop our own concepts that cover the complete recycling cycle.' With the self-developed 'Giraf' system, DEPREZ offers fully automated high-bay warehouses for oversized parts.

Wherever potatoes and other vegetables are cultivated, the solutions from DEPREZ CONSTRUCT are in demand. Important markets include Western Europe, Canada, and California, with exports accounting for between 60 and 70%. The Belgian company provides systems for both fresh and frozen products. Currently, a facility is being constructed for the world's largest customer in Edmonton, Canada, and the French fries producer Aviko is also among the clients.


Perfect Execution: What was presented to the client as a three-dimensional draft looks like this in reality
Perfect Execution: What was presented to the client as a three-dimensional draft looks like this in reality

Strong at Trade Fairs

"We often approach market leaders," describes Matthias Mergaert, Head of Sales Agro, a distribution method. "In addition, we often collaborate with other companies on projects." An important marketing tool is also participating in major industry trade fairs. For example, DEPREZ CONSTRUCT is represented with a booth at Interpom in Kortrijk, Belgium, at the Potatoe Expo in Austin, USA, and at Potatoe Europe, which takes place alternately in Belgium, the Netherlands, and France. Another trade fair for the Belgian company is Fruit Logistica in Berlin.

Highly Digital

As far as the digitization of internal processes and also of the facilities is concerned, DEPREZ CONSTRUCT is at a very high level. "We are very advanced," reaffirms Matthias Mergaert. "Our entire production is connected through an ERP system. All parties always know exactly where each part is within the production chain. Therefore, we can retrieve detailed information at any time. We have just invested EUR 250,000 in a new drawing program. All our designs are created in 3-D, allowing us to present the architecture of a facility to the customer during the sales phase." The facilities themselves are also highly digital, as Matthias Mergaert explains: "Our devices are digitally controlled, and the software supports our customers in their processes. If needed, we can also remotely access the facilities."

Growing with the Customers

At DEPREZ CONSTRUCT, not only are the products and customer relationships sustainable, but the entire structures are oriented towards responsible management of resources. "By using Smart Motors, we reduce energy consumption as much as possible," clarifies Jeroen Deprez. "Two years ago, we commissioned an environmentally friendly and low-emission powder coating plant that is state of the art. We generate our own energy 100% from photovoltaics and are increasingly focusing on electromobility." In the coming years, Jeroen Deprez aims to further develop the company and grow together with the customers: "We know all the players in the industry and want to increasingly address the industry leaders. Moreover, we want to offer new solutions for additional handling products."

CEO Jeroen Deprez and Head of Sales Agro Matthias Mergaert are equally motivated by the endeavor to provide customers with added value and to convince them with innovative solutions in the future. DEPREZ is a company that achieves strong growth through automation. Those who choose DEPREZ opt for innovation, sustainability, intelligent solutions, and safety.