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The right build


Founded in 1880, Entreprise Générale DHERTE can look back on a very successful 135-year history. “Over the decades, the company has experienced continuous growth,” explains Jean-Pol Tonero, the company’s Site Manager. “This growth was achieved mostly as a result of natural development rather than through acquisition of external businesses.”

Today the company is active at two locations in Belgium. The headquarters are located in Flobecq in the western part of the Belgian Walloon region, the ancestral hometown of Entreprise Générale DHERTE.

A second subsidiary is in Namur, the capital of Wallonia. To this day the company remains a family-owned business. “Currently, we employ about 200 staff across our two locations,” says Mr. Tonero. “And we turn over around 72 million EUR, 60 million through our headquarters and twelve million through Namur.”

At the heart of Entreprise Générale DHERTE’s success lies a strongly diversified portfolio. “We work as a main contractor, mostly in the regions around Namur, Brussels and Hainaut,” says Mr. Tonero. As such, the company serves both the public as well as the private market. “Initially, we had a focus on the public sector. However, today the two areas are almost equal.”

Entreprise Générale DHERTE covers innovative new buildings as well as renovations and restoration projects. In all these areas, the company undertakes projects across a variety of building types.

“We are able to conduct work on all kinds of buildings,” Mr. Tonero emphasizes. “We cover train stations, residential real estate, particularly apartment buildings, and industrial buildings, but also hospitals and old people’s homes, as well as schools and museums, multi-storey car parks and hotels. With our renovation and restoration business, of course, we also handle historical buildings.”

Another area of activity for Entreprise Générale DHERTE is wastewater treatment plants. The company’s long reference list bears proof of its experience and expertise. References for work on public buildings are, for example, the court of justice and the police station in Mons or the administrative center in La Louvière.

The Centre Hospitalier at Jolimont is one of many examples of hospital projects conducted by Entreprise Générale DHERTE, while the Lessines Sports Center is a reference for the company’s sports hall portfolio. There are many examples of residential real estate projects such as the Résidence les XII César in Tournai or the Résidence la Pêcherie in Uccle, a special project where Entreprise Générale DHERTE built 25 low-energy dwellings.

The new Calatrava train station in Mons is a prime example of the company’s innovative capacity and know-how in the field of infrastructure projects. Other impressive work by the company includes the Ath Esplanade car park, the Namur fire station (a public-private partnership), the restoration of the cathedral of Tournai and the renovation of the facade of the Ath music academy.

Last but not least, Godinne and Roeulx are just two of several examples for wastewater treatment plants put in place by Entreprise Générale DHERTE.

“However, today, we are not simply a building company,” Mr. Tonero stresses. “We offer a whole chain of services including, for example, static calculations. We deliver fully turnkey products.”

Furthermore, Entreprise Générale DHERTE itself acts as a constructor and invests in building its own housing estates. “We have already completed several such projects which we then sell,” says Mr. Tonero.

The company’s customers are public authorities as well as private clients. “In the public sector we take part in tenders, and we are also registered with various portals,” Mr. Tonero goes on to explain. “Our private clients are other constructors as well as industrial customers. We do not serve private house builders or build one family houses.”

As one of Entreprise Générale DHERTE’s success factors, Mr. Tonero cites the company’s reactiveness and the fact that it always manages to address its customers’ wishes and concerns with the necessary flexibility.

It was this characteristic that helped the business to get through the difficult time around 2008 when the entire building sector was struggling through the international financial crisis. “Also important is our entrepreneurial spirit, which the company has maintained over all these years,” Mr. Tonero adds. “We are a real business with real contacts and real people to speak to. We are a family business, and this quality is still very much alive.”

Another advantage of the company’s structure is that it allows decisions to be made quickly and optimal solutions to be achieved in a short space of time. Meetings are not long events organized in big halls but rather take place regularly in the corridors, allowing decisions to be made speedily and efficiently.

In order to keep this spirit alive in the future, Entreprise Générale DHERTE conducts team building events, and employees meet up regularly for joint activities. There are also plans to expand the company’s one-stop-shop aspect.

“Nowadays, it is not just about doing the work and counting the projects. In order to win a tender, it is necessary to conduct feasibility surveys, calculations are made and so on,” explains Mr. Tonero. “In our industry this is referred to as DBFM – design, build, finance and maintain. This is a route we intend to develop further.”

The company is also further pursuing the construction of its own housing estates. “What’s important for us in all our activities are environmental regulations,” Mr. Tonero says. “We have been placing great importance on the environmental aspect for quite some time, and it strongly influences our way of thinking every single day.”

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