New as Old

Interview with Roel van Malcote, CEO of HISTO DACH BV

Histo Dach Castle Walbrunn
For Castle Walbrunn in the Palatinate, historical roof windows from HISTO DACH were selected

Old buildings, possibly monument-protected, often have a unique charm. When windows of such a building need to be replaced, a delicate touch is required to preserve this charm. HISTO DACH BV from Ranst Oelegem in Belgium is exactly the right partner for this. The company manufactures windows that look like they did 100 years ago but stand for the latest technology and comfort.

HISTO DACH has been manufacturing historically inspired roof windows for over 20 years in a forge, which are unique in the market. The success story began with classic blacksmith work like grates or fittings; roof windows were added later. "Since there is a preference for building in the old style in Belgium, we gradually received more and more inquiries for roof windows," says CEO Roel van Malcote. "Velux windows are not an alternative for old houses, so we adjusted to this development, initially making custom windows, and later developed standard models that we could pre-produce more cheaply and deliver very quickly."

Historical Look, Modern Technology

With the roof windows, HISTO DACH set standards – in Belgium and Germany. The roof windows are made entirely of steel, and the interior is insulated. "The windows look authentic, exactly like 100 years ago, and not like modern windows that are made to look old," emphasizes Roel van Malcote. "Since 2016, we have also been active in Germany and, despite initial skepticism, have been very successful in this demanding market with its very specific norms and standards. For example, we have integrated special brackets for the chimney sweep for the German market, so that windows can be opened to a 90-degree angle and remain in this position. The chimney sweep can then comfortably enter and exit. This is unique to Germany."

HISTO DACH Arched Roof Window
Typical HISTO DACH – historically appearing arched roof window made of steel
Historical Roofs of Lübeck's City Center
Lübeck's city center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, many skylights come from Belgium

Rediscovering the Old

HISTO DACH has systematically and thoughtfully built up the business around the demanding steel roof windows since 2016, continuously optimized and developed products. Characteristic of the windows are round arches, which are hard to find on the market. Glass, seals, and insulation have been improved over time. The quality is so good that the monument authority frequently recommends HISTO Dach – and more and more German customers are turning to Belgian know-how.

"Our focus remains on the Belgian market, where the potential is greater than in Germany," says Roel van Malcote. "However, we feel that traditional craftsmanship in Germany is at risk of being lost; we can fill this gap. For this, we need to further increase our visibility, expand our network of dealers, visit even more trade fairs, and intensify online marketing."

Ideas for Tomorrow

Some figures illustrate how well the historic windows are being received today. In 2016, HISTO DACH sold 47 windows in Germany, in 2022 it was 1,200, this year it will be 1,100. A weak construction economy and uncertain consumers are the reason for the slight decline. Nevertheless, HISTO Dach remains optimistic. "Unlike in Germany, new buildings in Belgium are often constructed in the old style," says Roel van Malcote. "Gradually, this trend is also taking hold in Germany, where more and more old building materials are being used. Currently, we are in the process of setting up a small platform for Belgian building materials, specifically targeting the German market. Interesting are selected manufacturers, family businesses that focus on quality."