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Focus on West Flanders branch office - Luyckx Izegem


Focus on West Flanders branch office - Luyckx Izegem

When you hear the name Luyckx, you immediately think of the head office in Brecht and perhaps also the Luyckx division in far-off Dubai. But customers in West Flanders know better; they can call on the staff in Izegem. We felt it was high time we placed the focus on the West Flanders branch office, so we arranged to talk to (almost) the entire Izegem team.

Laurens and Brent are the on-the-road technicians and Elias is the brand new branch manager. Together the three of them make up the young guard. Elias is taking over from Eddy, the “ever ready” (general laughter), which is how he introduces himself. And with that the tone is set. Eddy has only just retired, as has Erik who is passing on the torch as representative to Christophe, who unfortunately could not be on hand for this interview. Chantal Luyckx also pulled up a chair for a chat in which two luscious dialects harmoniously coalesce. They’re a merry bunch, of that there’s no doubt. You can sense straight away that these are people who get on famously together.

Eddy and Erik, the two of you have only just been demobbed?

Erik: That’s right. I retired a few weeks ago, along with my mate Eddy. I’m missing him already. That’s going to be a problem, Eddy...

Eddy: Yeah, it might well be. You’re going off travelling shortly, and you haven’t asked me along (general laughter).

When did the two of you begin at Luyckx?

Eddy: In 1998. In fact it was quite odd the way it started. At the time I was working for another firm. When I attended the truck and van trade fair I met a Luyckx representative. He asked me whether I knew of anyone who might be interested in the position of branch manager for Luyckx in Izegem. I said “no”, but immediately added “perhaps we should talk about it”. And that’s what got the ball rolling.

Erik: I joined the team two years later, as a salesman. Back then I’d been working for a competitor firm. And I always used to say “I’ll never change job, except if Luyckx ring me”. And that was precisely what happened. I was also aware of the company’s mentality, the family side of it, and the good service. If you got into “de Luyckx” you knew you were sitting pretty. They had, and still have, a very good reputation in the industry. That appealed to me hugely and I never regretted my decision for one moment.

Eddy: Me neither. The simplicity, the total lack of haughtiness here – that’s to the Luyckx family’s credit. It was also striking how no distinction was made between a large and a small customer. I wholly backed that approach.

Why was the Izegem branch office set up?

Eddy: I’ve always been an on-the-road technician. When I carried out my first assignments for Luyckx in the region, our customers would say: “At last someone who speaks our language” (laughter). But that was how it was. That immediately created a relationship of trust. Of course an Izegem branch office also had a whole host of other advantages, such as efficiency and a better and faster service for the customers.

Chantal: And obviously there were a lot of customers established in that region: farmers and particularly building contractors.

Eddy: There was a very real need for a branch office to be set up there.

Chantal: Absolutely. The timing was perfect.

Luyckx Izegem

“We struck it lucky”

Were you completely on your own, Eddy?

Eddy: There were two of us! I went out on the road and Christophe was the technician in the workshop. We did it as though it were for ourselves. We were always ready. Even at weekends we were available, so we made a really good team. But I’d already known him for some time. I even repaired his motorbike!

The same culture as the head office in Brecht, you could say?

Eddy: Yes, I think so. We’ve always been geared to that notion of “customer first”.

Chantal: That’s smart, you know. I like to say that back then we struck it lucky.

What exactly do you do in Izegem?

Elias: We do all the servicing and maintenance of Hitachi, Kubota, Ammann, Kennis and Effer. New Holland is the only make we don’t handle. We also take on new build sometimes, while design is only done in Brecht. So we focus mainly on service.

There are far fewer of you here than there are in Brecht. Does that also make for a dynamic all of its own?

Eddy: Yes, it most certainly does. We’re like a little family, you could almost say.

Erik: There’s been a lot of laughter over these last 22 years.

Eddy: That’s right. There have never been angry words bandied between us. In my previous job I used to work for a boss who always grumbled and snapped at you. At the time I resolved never to do that. You treat your fellow workers with respect.

Erik: There was indeed a great deal of respect for each other. We were always there for each other.

Chantal: Yes, and it should also be said that you were not averse to sharing your knowledge. On the contrary, you were happy to be able to share your experience with the new generation.

Laurens: That’s absolutely right. From the first day I came here it was striking what a good atmosphere there was. If I didn’t know something I could always ask Eddy. Even when I was on the road, I could always ring him when I wasn’t able to solve the matter myself. He’s a bundle of knowledge and experience.

How did you come to start here, Laurens?

Laurens: I did my work placement here. It was strange the way it started. We had a Kubota at home and a pump was broken, so I brought it into Luyckx and they more or less kept me here. They were looking for trainees and the idea appealed to me. I worked here for a while and after that period Eddy was OK with the idea of me starting for real. So I talked to Chantal again and that was it. We hit it off.

Eddy: I knew from the word go that he was one we ought to keep on.

Chantal: I remember that Laurens was always laughing. I’ve never seen him in any other mood. He’s a really positive guy.

And how about you, Brent?

Brent: It’s a similar story, really. In my case it began with a holiday job. And I was able to stay on. I actually wanted to be a crane driver from an early age but things haven’t turned out that way. I studied electromechanical engineering and then I ended up in engineering instead of construction. These days I’m not operating cranes but pulling them apart.

“Big shoes to fill”

Elias, you became branch manager a few weeks ago and yet you’re still relatively young. How did that come about?

Elias: I also studied electromechanical engineering. I then started working for my parents’ garden and construction machinery company. So I was genuinely brought up in the trade there. Our Hitachi excavators came from Luyckx. That’s how we got to know each other.


You’re now following in Eddy’s footsteps. Those are big shoes to fill, aren’t they?

Elias: Yes, they certainly are. There’s no underestimating the challenge. All kinds of things enter into this. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m very well supported. It’s really great that Luyckx are placing so much trust in me. There’s also plenty of communication with Brecht all the time. I consult with them and here I’ve got Laurens and Brent, too, who are very supportive. The main aim is always for the customer to be satisfied. Everyone here thinks along those lines. That was also apparent back when we ourselves were Luyckx customers. When we asked for something, it was never impossible. The service here has be first-rate and that’s the way I see it, too.

Laurens: Elias is doing very well.

Chantal: That’s right. Elias also feels very strongly about those values. In all our branches that’s the main aim, to keep our customer satisfied. That’s why there are also plans to give Luyckx Izegem a facelift.

What was Eddy like as branch manager?

Elias: I learnt a great deal from him.

Laurens: He’s a very sociable guy and is always cracking jokes.

Elias: And he always stays as cool as a cucumber, even under stress.

Laurens: And he sure likes his food! Or at least he’s always talking about food (laughter). Wholesome eating, fresh produce!

What was your secret, Eddy?

Eddy: I don’t know. I don’t think there are any big secrets. I’ve always said what I thought, but in a respectful way. Being straightforward and fair and square. And being at the customer’s service.

Erik: He never imposed anything. It was always done in consultation. It was never a question of something having to be done; he always asked whether it could be done. There really were never any angry words bandied about, and that is one of Eddy’s virtues. We played a lot of jokes and had a lot of fun. It’s been a wonderful time.

Eddy in his early days

What are you most proud of, Erik?

Erik: That after all these years all doors are open for me; that not a single customer has been left with a bad taste in the mouth or anything like that. On a personal level I regard that as very important.

Erik in his early days

Do you guys sometimes feel like the firm’s younger brother?

Elias: In terms of physical resources we’re obviously a smaller-scale outfit, but we’re very well supported by and involved in the firm. There’s a lot of knowledge sharing and we regularly go to Brecht for courses or for example when a new model comes out.

Chantal: And when there’s a party! (laughter)

In Brecht the company has been given a facelift and a brand new building is also to be added. Shorty it’ll be your turn. Are you looking forward to that?

Eddy: And just when I’ve retired! (general laughter)

Elias: We’ll be getting a new overhead crane. That’s the thing I’m most looking forward to. We’ll be able to work even more comfortably. Yes, I can see that really working well.

Chantal: The existing premises are to be completely modernised and enlarged. More workshops, new fellow workers, better facilities, new tools, etc. That will enable us to continue to meet the customers’ requirements.

“We speak the same language”

Is the mentality in Brecht (De Kempen) and Izegem (West Flanders) the same?

Erik: Well, how shall I put it? We speak the same language.

Eddy: We’re really on the same wavelength, perfectly attuned to each other. You might not think so when you hear us talk, but West Flemings and Kempenaars aren’t that different, you know.

Chantal: I think we’re all down-to-earth people and hard workers. To be completely fair I have to say that at the beginning things weren’t always that easy when it came to communication. They have a different word for “sandwiches”, and things like that, you know (laughter).

Elias: You notice that some customers prefer to call us rather than the head office. So that proximity aspect of our establishment is important, too.

A question for the young guard. Why did you choose Luyckx?

Elias: I’ve been crazy about machines all my life. I’ve worked on and with them ever since I could walk. I’d come home from school, leave my satchel in the corner, and go and help in the shed. So for me working at Luyckx is a dream job.

Erik: He’s also got something in the cupboard at home...

Elias: Cupboards! They’re full of miniature models of machines. Yes, I think there must be oil running through my veins.

Brent: It’s been in my blood since childhood, too. I always felt really good here during my holiday job. In my trainee post, on the other hand, I was looked down on rather, but here at Luyckx that wasn’t the case at all. The atmosphere here was just right.

Laurens: Same story here. Here you’re also given plenty of opportunities and responsibility.

A dream scenario

A question for the retirees. Will you miss it?

Erik: I will miss the atmosphere, but I wasn’t getting any younger and felt that it was time to stop. Things change extremely quickly in the world of machinery. I think it’s time for the next generation. Over the last three months I’ve immersed Christophe in the profession of salesman. I’ve really enjoyed doing that, I must say. I’m pleased he will be continuing my work. He really is ideally suited to the job.

Eddy: Quite right. He has the right attitude and the customers love him. The coffee’s already poured for him. And Elias will also do a fine job as the new branch manager. Intrinsically he’s really got what it takes.

Erik: Brent and Laurens can always fall back on Christophe’s technical know-how, too, since he’s always been an on-the-road technician prior to this and has tons of experience. It’s a luxury to have that baggage at your disposal.

Eddy: In fact it’s really a perfect transition.

Erik: You couldn’t conceive of a better scenario for the future of Luyckx Izegem, and it’s pleasing to be able to say that.

Erik, Brent and Eddy

And now? What are you going to do with all that free time?

Erik: On Sunday I’m off to Tenerife for six weeks!

Eddy: I’m in the process of refurbishing a house at the moment and I’ll no doubt be popping in here quite a bit.

Laurens: You’ll always be more than welcome! It’ll be rather strange without them. But we can always ring Eddy and Erik if need be.

Erik and Eddy: That’s quite right! It’ll be our pleasure.

What does the future hold for Luyckx Izegem?

Laurens: Continuing and building on what they started.

Erik: Things will be just great. We’re leaving behind a young, dynamic team that’s well prepared.

Elias: Prepared for progress and for further consolidation in West Flanders. And prepared to outstrip Brecht, eh! (laughter)

Chantal: In the meantime we’re beginning with the enlargement and modernisation of the premises, and that’s a step in the right direction!

Team Izegem