From the very first measurement with electrical current to 80-GHz radar: VEGA Belgium’s 50-year success story
VEGA Belux, the subsidiary responsible for Belgium and Luxembourg, has existed now for exactly half a century. It is currently located in Zellik, a small but rapidly growing community just outside Brussels. In late autumn, the employees celebrated their anniversary together with many customers and the three-member management team of the German headquarters, and also used the opportunity to thank their long-standing partners and associates.
Belgium's feel for trends
Managing Director Peter Leemans took advantage of the festive ambience, with nearly 250 guests in attendance, to recall some of the company’s most important milestones. During his talk, two factors for success emerged: first, the high degree of personnel continuity, which has characterized corporate culture in Belgium for more than 50 years. And second, Belgium's feel for the right kind of trends. Both have contributed to long-term success.
During the early years of this international subsidiary, VEGA invented the first measuring instrument that operated with electrical current. The patented design principle quickly became a worldwide standard. Leemans' remarks covered further innovations, patents and developments, finally leading up to the most recent highlight in VEGA's history. Exactly 50 years later, VEGA sets standards again by launching the first radar level sensor that measures with the high frequency of 80 GHz. Leemans didn’t miss the opportunity to present VEGA managing directors Isabel Grieshaber, Günter Kech and Rainer Waltersbacher with a special trophy: the "Best Product of the Decade" award. Thus officially named, the still-young radar sensor VEGAPULS 64, with sales figures meanwhile reaching 6 digits, can now set out even more confidently to snatch further sales records.
Only one change of leadership
Over the decades, only two managing directors held the reins of the Belgian subsidiary in their hands. André Koldrasinski had occupied the leadership position since 1973 and only handed it over to a successor when he retired in 2010. One of his great achievements was the sale of 900 of the then new ultrasonic sensor VEGASON 186 within just one year of the market launch. Of all the subsidiaries worldwide, Belgium sold the most instruments that year. And to top it off, Koldrasinski used the occasion to send a Belgian trophy to the VEGA headquarters in Schiltach. VEGASON became the "Best Innovation of the Year" – and its trophy secured a firm place in the memory of its recipients. Peter Leemans was obviously the right choice as Koldrasinski’s successor. Since he took over, Leemans has led the subsidiary to ever greater sales growth. In 2017, VEGA Belux concluded the year with a record turnover of 7 million euros, bringing the two "small countries" to almost two percent of the worldwide total.
A synonym for simplicity
Anyone who is this well positioned certainly knows his markets. Most likely, he recognizes trends earlier – that crucial, tiny bit earlier – than others do. Peter Leemans pointed out in his speech that the VEGA philosophy of "simplicity" had already been implemented in 1985 with the VEGATOR Series 500 module. The point level switches were based on a modular design through and through. This created flexible application possibilities on a previously unknown scale. Following through with this strategy, VEGA has been building all sensors since 2003 on the basis of a modular instrument platform called plics®. "plics®," says Leemans,"has become a synonym for simplicity in the industry." Thanks to this, later technical developments such as wireless Bluetooth communication are all downward compatible, i.e. they can be retrofitted on instruments going all the way back to 2003. "VEGA has thus created a unique advantage for itself. It’s not only in Belgium where we will continue to profit from it in the future!"