European Business: Ms. Kuppens, perhaps you could begin by outlining Van Aarsen's core activities.
Noura Kuppens: Van Aarsen specializes in machinery for animal and aqua feed production - usually an entire automated production line including, if required, the associated software and controls. We undertake the end-to-end process, from design, engineering and production to installation and commissioning, as well as staff training and after-sales service. Carefully selected local partners are sometimes involved, but at the heart of every project are high-quality Van Aarsen machines, customized to meet the exacting requirements of our clients. The main production unit is located in Panheel and we have a smaller location in Slovakia for simple steel work.
European Business: What do your clients particularly value in Van Aarsen's products and service?
Noura Kuppens: Our people, our expertise and our role as a partner all add real value. Relationships are generally nurtured over many years. Clients invest huge amounts of money in machinery, and rather than simply providing what they ask for, we work with them to consider all aspects of their production, and then provide the optimal solution, which takes into account the total cost of ownership and utilization.
European Business: What differentiates Van Aarsen from the competition?
Noura Kuppens: We pride ourselves on innovation, for example, adapting machinery to new safety or energy guidelines. Through our partnership approach, we have gathered extensive expertise, and our customers often ask us to train and educate their staff, not only on the equipment itself, but also on the process of making high-quality, nutritional feed, and even animal welfare. For us, research and development is crucial, and we have close links with Wageningen and other universities, ensuring we are constantly up to date on technical, nutritional and animal welfare developments.
We are a modest, local company with proud and committed employees, yet at the same time, a true global player. Noura KuppensMarketing and Communication Manager
European Business: The company celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2019. What have been the key milestones?
Noura Kuppens: Van Aarsen was founded in Panheel by three brothers with the vision to supply the Dutch market. It quickly expanded sales into Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and beyond; there is actually a Van Aarsen feed mill in the Middle East which is 50 years old. In Sweden in 2014, we completed our biggest project to date; the requirements were so strict that the plant could theoretically be used to produce food for human consumption! Earlier this year, we obtained our second largest order, for an animal and aqua feed plant in Bangladesh. Today, we are active across all over the world. We work with local agents and partners, who are fully trained to our exacting standards.
European Business: What defines Van Aarsen, and how do you see the future?
Noura Kuppens: Based in a small village, we are a modest, local company with proud and committed employees, yet at the same time, a true global player. We are confident that the future will bring more new and exciting projects. Our core aim is to continue to enhance our reputation as a competent partner and remain the 'go-to guys' for any questions or problems.
European Business: And finally, a personal question: You joined Van Aarsen five years ago. What continues to drive and motivate you?
Noura Kuppens: Van Aarsen is a wonderful match for my own interests and values. I love the company, the team, and the link with the food on my table. The international aspect is especially interesting; I find I now listen to the news in a different way, because what happens elsewhere - from natural disasters and disease to political events - influences the company and the opportunities we are presented with.