Dewulf, a leading name in the landscape of machinery for the cultivation of potatoes and root crops, was nominated and just missed out on the Exporter of the Year 2023 Award at the Flanders International Business Awards in the Sky Hall of Brussels Airport. Organiser Flanders Investment and Trade (FIT) introduced redesigned awards this year, which featured the Exporter of the Year prize in addition to the Start-up and Foreign Investor categories. The Exporter of the Year Award is a contemporary successor to the widely known and coveted Export Lion Award.
Dewulf = just not the perfect fit
In early July, FIT announced Dewulf, Globachem and IndigoCare as the three nominees for the Exporter of the Year Award 2023. The nomination was based on excellent export performance. Parameters such as innovation, corporate social responsibility and a solid overall company management were taken into account. The final assessment - in addition to a contest dossier submitted earlier - was based on the verdict of a prestigious jury panel that invited each nominee for a pitch presentation. As a result, Globachem emerged as the winner and Dewulf unfortunately pulled one of the two short ends. "Of course, we are disappointed that we could not take home the grand prize, but above all, we are proud of the track record we have built in recent years, especially in terms of exports. This nomination was a learning experience that has only strengthened our international ambitions," says Peter Muyssen, Group Sales and Marketing Manager at the Roeselare-based machine manufacturer.
Dewulf likes to emphasise a great winner has taken the export prize, and will act as an excellent ambassador for Flanders at an international level. Dewulf-CEO Hendrik Decramer: "Congratulations to the people of Globachem, it is a well-deserved award for the journey the company has completed. A relatively small Flemish player knowing how to profile the company globally in such a way and thus making a nice contribution to the Flemish economy deserves tons of respect!"
The road of enjoyable growth is the right one
The family business Dewulf, founded in 1946 by Robert Dewulf, grandfather of current CEO Hendrik Decramer, has grown into a leading global actor. The machine manufacturer did so by building up expertise in potato and carrot harvesters and later - with the takeover of Dutch company Miedema in 2014 - also added planting and storing machines to its range. Meanwhile, the tagline has also evolved from 'The harvester specialist' to 'Enjoy Growing', with Dewulf enjoying growth stories on a corporate, machine, and personal level. “We considered the nomination in any case as a reward for the work accomplished over the years and the common milestones we have achieved, with the help of an incredibly close-knit team. Our down-to-earth Flemish approach catches on abroad and ensures a pleasant connection with our various partners. As a family business, we can continue to build on the recognition this award nomination has brought internationally," adds Hendrik Decramer.
For each challenge an opportunity
Today, the (Flemish) agricultural sector undeniably faces the most diverse challenges, including ecology and circularity. Policymakers, together with the various stakeholders, are looking for a harmonious balance between sustainability and liveability, allowing farmers, growers, and the environment to thrive. Furthermore, we notice the ecosystem in the agro and food business is giving wings to the sector, also bringing machine manufacturers such as Dewulf into the growth potential. The expansions of Clarebout Potatoes in Dunkirk and Agristo in Escaudoeuvres, for example, mean there is still a lot of stretch on the future of the potato as a sustainable vegetable, especially in terms of exporting. Consequently, thanks to their varied machine park, Dewulf hopes to be able to offer reliable and user-friendly machines in every corner of the world permanently and innovatively, tailored to the desired quality of the end product.
Export balance through global (dealer) network
"By constantly improving our production process in recent years, our team is nowadays capable of producing more reliable and innovative machines than ever. In doing so, we want to conquer the world," dixit COO Thomas Decan, brother-in-law of Hendrik Decramer and co-shareholder. That’s exactly what Dewulf does, with an export share of 88% compared to the total turnover in 2023. Selling requires service, which is another area where Dewulf indicates making a difference with tailor-made advice and optimal assistance. Its global dealer network receives periodic off- and online training, enabling service people to work on a machine anywhere in the world and at any time with expertise. This approach is combined with coordinating accounts and local anchoring of the Dewulf brand, the company having its dealership in the UK, for example. Hendrik Decramer: "We can cite numerous examples of successful collaborations and continue to look for sustainable partners. We hope this nomination can give an extra nudge in the right direction."
The direction the Roeselare-based machine builder will be taking in the next few years is definitely one that shows its ambition to grow further, and in which the company will spread the export message worldwide as an ambassador for Flanders. Who knows, maybe Dewulf will become Exporter of the Year in the immediate future.