We had a chat with Koen Vandersmissen, one of the two managing directors of Limeparts - Drooghmans.
Can you introduce yourself and your company briefly?
“I am Koen Vandersmissen and together with Sven Drooghmans we are managing director of our company. Limeparts is the abbreviation of "Limburg Metal Parts". There are two business units within Limeparts: facade cladding and supply products. In terms of cladding, we have realised some great projects such as the NATO headquarters in Brussels and the Courthouse in Hasselt. Our other business unit focuses on the production of aluminum supply products for the broad industry. For example, we produce the aluminum casing for Atlas Copco compressors.”
“Last year we merged with Drooghmans because we wanted to broaden our product range. Previously, Limeparts was primarily a metalworking company. Drooghmans specialised in the non-metal segment of cladding. By joining forces, we are now the most complete supplier of ventilated cladding on the market.”
How long have you been working with the Provincial Secondary School in Bilzen (PSSB)?
“We have been working with the PSSB for a long time and through them also with Mobile School. The collaboration with the PSSB started in the early years of Limeparts, with internships and support for the projects that the PSSB submitted for the Peter Heller prize. Gradually we started to support Mobile School, since the mobile schools were made in Bilzen. It all began with the sponsorship of some aluminum plates. The need gradually increased and the process became more complex. We then decided to supply a number of finished products, both for the upper and the lower structure of the schools.”
“We recently purchased a new composite milling machine. This enabled us to increase the accuracy of the aluminum products, so that these can also be produced more efficiently. This means that we can now also process the chalkboards in a way that they are easier to assemble. This means we gradually take on more work for Mobile School, but that is not a problem.”
“We supply a lot of basic material, we ‘donate’ some production capacity and stay in contact with the PSSB several times a year.”
Why do you support Mobile School?
“Searching for what can pull people out of poverty, we end up with education and knowledge. That is a basic right for everyone. We must try to educate people in a good way. Where Mobile School works, there is not always a good infrastructure. The gap between rich and poor is very large in those countries. It is very difficult for the population to get out of poverty. Projects that focus on education are therefore very important.”
“I also had a number of conversations with Arnoud Raskin who visited us a few times, an inspiring man. I think that as a company we have to invest energy in this project, this is important to us. Moreover, the efforts we invest do not put a huge burden on our company. I think that as a company you have to be socially committed.”
“We not only support Mobile School but also Lego League, a VOKA (Flemish business network) project to inspire children to study technology through Lego. It is about programming, building and presenting. We generally focus on educational activities.”
What motivates you to do this and what is the added value for you?
“Financially there is nothing in it for us because we do invest some time and energy into it, but I think that as a company we should do that. Of course, you cannot support a hundred charities. You have to make a choice and then focus.”
“By doing this we are always in contact with the PSSB and it is very useful for us to create an influx of graduates. What’s more; it is through a very noble goal: Mobile School. In the meantime, there are some PSSB alumni working with us, such as the head of the Engineering department.”
"We do it mainly from social commitment and to maintain relationships with the PSSB."
How do you see the collaboration in the future?
“Given our history, I think we want to continue to support Mobile School. I can only listen to your needs and I don't see them diminishing. We also try to convince other suppliers to support your projects. We try to convince them that there should not always be an invoice when doing something for a good cause.”