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Can you dig it?


“Spades are our most important product group,” says Paul De Neve, CEO of Polet Quality Products nv. The company’s broad product portfolio contains a large variety of spades and shovels for different purposes, as well as gardening tools, such as hoes and lawn rakes, construction tools and even brightly-coloured junior tools for its youngest customers.

Mr. De Neve joined Polet four years ago and has already left his mark. “The company was founded 150 years ago, developing garden and construction tools. It grew steadily, a stable company until about seven years ago. Then it became all about increasing turnover for the sake of increased turnover, and so it moved away from its core business. That may work well for a year, but then you’re out,” he sums up the company’s eventful history.

Mr. De Neve, who has a reputation for his ability to rescue weak companies, and who admits that he has a personal love of difficult challenges, was called to the rescue. “Fortunately, I have the ability to see underlying problems – and it always comes down to the people. I have a very distinct management style, which I call ‘management of happiness’. It coincides with what research has found out to be the universal, ideal management culture.” With his belief in authenticity, the CEO, who is planning to write a book about his particular style of management soon, reversed all previous changes and managed to turn the company around within just one month.

“We got the kind of machines back in that worked here 150 years ago, side by side with modern and automated production lines,” Mr. De Neve goes on to explain. “We are very flexible concerning our clients’ needs: They do ask us to develop tools for special soil types, such as swamps, or for different tasks – emptying sewers with special tools for example – and we do all of it, whether it is just the one tool or 10,000 items.” Production remains in Belgium, as the CEO emphasizes, and thanks to the increased value of the dollar, the company can even beat Chinese imports – not only in quality but also in price.

Recently, Polet, which itself was acquired by the Belgian Devos and Ampe families, bought the company DeNolf. At its headquarters in Borsbeke and its production facilities, it employs 43 members of staff turning over nine million EUR annually – and it is growing fast.

“We are market leader in Belgium, and the Netherlands and France are growing markets, too. Now we are turning to the UK,” the CEO states. “I delivered the company into the hands of an investment family with the same genetic production mentality. This secures the future. The performance is going up, the quality is great – we produce the Rolls Royce of spades.”

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