Lutosa is 40 years today !

 

Van den Broeke guy et luc Lutosa 40 years birthday interview memories

Guy Van den Broeke                            Luc Van den Broeke

What are your memories of your first days at Lutosa?

 

What are your memories of your first days at Lutosa?

When I started working in Lutosa (in 1980), the company was still in a start-up phase and the shift from a trading to a potato processing company wasn’t as evident as it may seem. In the first days I even wondered if the decision I made was the right one and if I had gotten myself into a venture whose outcome was uncertain. It soon became apparent to me, however, that my fears were unfounded and that our company had a lot more assets than I thought. We had bought a company that had already went bankrupt twice. It was abandoned. Even though our goal was to make frozen fries, we told ourselves that if it did not work we would use the buildings as potato storage sites, like the ones we already had in Tournai. Our parents instilled in us the love for potatoes, so it was absolutely the way to go for us.

To what do you attribute the success of this wonderful company that keeps on growing? What are the aspects that you value the most?

 

To what do you attribute the success of this wonderful company that keeps on growing? What are the aspects that you value the most?

Among the factors that contributed to our success, I can especially name:
  • family and team spirit in the company;
  • competence and motivation of employees;
  • loyalty of our customers and their trust in Lutosa;
  • reputation that the company has built up thanks to Lutosa’s trademark and slogans such as 'Schatjes van patatjes'( Treasures of Potatoes);
  • long experience in potato processing;
  • various choices that were made from the beginning, such as specialization, differentiation by superior quality and the offering of a wide range of innovative products;
  • firm will to succeed and to overcome all the difficulties that arise.
 
  • Our knowledge of the raw material, inherited from our parents and grandparents;
  • the booming market;
  • the energy of all the staff who did everything to save the ship from sinking after the composition agreement and the bankruptcy of the company "Liéco";
  • a duo formed by Guy and myself. Me and my brother make a good team, each of us possessing specific strong points. Guy has the administrative skills and punctuality, and I have the knowledge of the potato processing, and together of the investment in buildings and equipment.

If you were to do this again, would you do something differently?

 

If you were to do this again, would you do something differently?

If I were to start again, besides paying more attention to quality and safety, our business management would stay the same: a management based on confidence in the talents and creativity of our employees. And also on trust in our customers and suppliers. Everything in the same way, while maintaining the family spirit that defines us.

What was the most ambitious project you had to undertake during these 30 years as head of our company? How did you go about it?

 

What was the most ambitious project you had to undertake during these 30 years as head of our company? How did you go about it?

One of the most ambitious projects was undoubtedly the integration of automation and robotisation. This has certainly presented some employees with the risk of losing their job. Fortunately, the increase in our production volumes and the commitment of our well-trained technicians and computer scientists made it possible to overcome this problem. Every project was ambitious for both of us because there was always a financial risk involved. As an example I can name the construction of the large cold rooms (CIMAT) or the new line fries 3.

You share with our customers this wonderful sense of entrepreneurship, what would you like to say to them and to us today?

 

You share with our customers this wonderful sense of entrepreneurship, what would you like to say to them and to us today?

On the occasion of this 40th anniversary, I would like to thank all our customers for the trust they have placed in Lutosa. I sincerely hope that the commercial relationships can continue and that everybody will benefit from it. The way you communicate with the customer is essential: human interaction solves many problems. Salespeople must keep this same mindset.

Do you have an anecdote to share with our customers about one of your trips or events that happened in your life?

 

Do you have an anecdote to share with our customers about one of your trips or events that happened in your life?

I would never have thought that during the Foodex trade show in Tokyo that I visited with my wife, I would have to sing. This was a surprise made for us by a Japanese customer who invited us to a dinner, and after it, asked us to accompany him to a karaoke bar, in order to drink some sake and ... sing. In January 2005 I flew to China to prospect for a new repackaging unit. Unfortunately, this trip did not work out in the sense that, in that particular area where we planned to establish the factory, the 25 km-long power cable for the workshop would cost more than the entire investment. And it was not guaranteed that we would have electricity 7 days a week. But before we returned to Belgium, we were invited to a huge Chinese restaurant with all you can eat buffet, and as a surprise we were served 3 fries per plate, not enough to fill us up but the grilled ants were great...

Which Lutosa product do you like the most and why?

 

Which Lutosa product do you like the most and why?

Our favorite products are the Shoestring Fries and the frozen Mashed Potatoes. The range of products is so wide that it is difficult to choose. French Fries and Croquettes are a must. And the Pom'Pins, which were created thanks to the creativity of the local staff when a machine was malfunctioning, remain a product we are proud of.

And now, after a busy work career, what do you do?

 

And now, after a busy work career, what do you do?

I continue to fulfill certain functions within the Potato Trading and Manufacturing Federation (Belgapom), such as the role of RUCIP arbitrator (something of a company court organized to settle disputes within the potato sector) and the role of a chairman of the Trade Show Coordination Committee Interpom / Primeurs in Courtrai. In addition, I am a member of a Business Angels organization, whose members provide financial support and management advice to start-up companies. Born in "the potato" I remained active in various agricultural societies. I am also a big pigeon-fancier with a combination of competitiveness and nature; in the summer I take part in competitions and in the winter in dinners and prize-giving ceremonies ... I also try to stay in good shape by exercising once a week, swimming every day and cycling regularly.

 

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