PIANT in Waalwijk heeft een missie. Het bedrijf gespecialiseerd in stansen, laseren, snijden en stikken wil de markt van lederwaren terug. Het bedrijf bouwde een nieuw pand en ontwikkelde een nieuwe machine. ,,Wij kunnen één keer zo groot worden.”
Sylvia van de Ven – Molendijk 18-11-20, 09:49 Source: BD
Robert Brekelmans will not forget 2020 soon. Just before the owner of the Waalwijk company Piant got the keys of his newly constructed building on industry site Haven Acht, the coronavirus broke out. A large part of the revenue fell away at once. “My three largest customers all called me on the same day. We were allowed to finish the orders we were working on. After that, everything was at a standstill.”
“It was an exciting time”, Brekelmans says. The company simultaneously moved to a new location and had to say goodbye to around 40 employees. The entrepreneur had envisioned this differently. He was going to move because he wanted to expand. But the crisis also offered new opportunities. Piant, specializing in cutting plastics and other materials, had been developing a machine for cutting leather more efficiently for years. “Over the last months of the crisis, we have had the possibility to develop this machine fully”.
Over the last months of the crisis, we have had the possibility to develop this machine fully”.
Robert Brekelmans, Piant Waalwijk
Brekelmans is confident. In the building at the Mechie Trommelenweg, directly next to bol.com, there will be enough space to expand. And that is what he is going to do, he says. Including the work that Piant once lost, that is the intention.
Shoe and leather industry
The family company Piant was founded in 1963 by father Piet Brekelmans. Starting the business at the Dick Flemmingstraat in Sprang-Capelle, the main activities of Piant were the modelling and punching of designs for the shoe and leather industry. Until the rise of low-wage countries happened, and the shoe industry slowly disappeared towards China and Portugal. “In just three years, we lost 400 clients”, Brekelmans says. “Companies would no longer have their products made in Waalwijk or even went bankrupt”. Piant made a shift towards the plastics industry, and this was a wise choice. “But we also want the leather industry back”.
How can it be that we lose against countries like Portugal and China, I asked myself?
Robert Brekelmans, Piant Waalwijk
Brekelmans set this course years ago. “How can it be that we lose against countries like Portugal and China, I asked myself? And how awesome would it be if we could get back the leather industry?” Brekelmans started to focus on efficiency and, according to him, has managed to get it done. “We have developed a machine that can gain between 12 and 15 per cent more leather from a single hide.”
Brekelmans shows what he means. “Each hide of leather has imperfections. It depends on what kind of life a cow has had.” A spot with a scar from an operation, a collision with barbed wire, lice bites. Those are all pieces of leather that cannot be used. “The more waste, the more expensive the shoe, belt, bag or wallet. We now have a machine that can automatically detect the unusable leather pieces and determine how it can cut around these most efficiently”.
The calculation is easy, Brekelmans says. “The leather is the most expensive part of a product. That means that if we save on material, it does no longer add up to employ people in low-wage countries to cut the leather.” The labour can come back to Waalwijk, Brekelmans says. “You also do not have high costs for logistics, and if there is a problem, you can contact each other immediately.”
150.000 hides per year
Entrepreneurs in the leather and shoe business have already found their way to Piant. “We currently process 150.000 hides per year”. But Brekelmans wants more.
With his new building, Brekelmans is ready for the future. “We have made a bet on growth. Next to all the machines we have installed here, there is still plenty of space to place extra machines. The connections and plugs are already there.”
The coronavirus will not ruin this plan, the owner of the production company ensures.
“During the first wave of corona, we have searched for new clients and found them; also, old clients are coming back again”. They are also looking for new employees. “Soon, we will again have 80 people working here”.