Ménart (Dour), a company specialised in the manufacture of organic waste processing and composting machines, achieves 85% of its turnover abroad. With its machines and systems - entirely produced in Belgium - it helps many companies, municipalities and regions harness added value from their agricultural waste or effluent.
Together, constant innovation, open-mindedness, a customer-oriented attitude and adaptability have contributed to the success of this family business for more than 50 years. Founded in 1961 by Bérengère’s great-grandparents and grandparents, Ménart was originally a local importer of farm machinery and equipment for the maintenance of green areas and roadsides. Gradually, a taste for innovation and above all the desire to offer “more” prompted the company to transform and adapt these machines to the specific needs of its customers. In the 1980s, with the development of composting and the emergence of the first waste treatment sites, Ménart decided to develop and make its first crusher... and the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, the SME is exporting organic waste separating, processing and composting machines and installations to more than 40 countries worldwide. Manufactured entirely in Belgium, the machines are intended for a wide variety of fields, ranging from sugar cane, palm, fruit and vegetable growing, wine-making to the production of olive oil or essential oils. In some emerging countries, Ménart is also active in the urban waste sector.
Bérengère Ménart (here with her father): “In Belgium, many consider that, without fail, the German industry will manufacture superior quality products. Even though inaccurate, this preconception is hard to dispel.”
Ménart employs 38 people at its Dour site. The sales team works with independent agents abroad who are familiar with the local mentality and way of working and who provide after-sales service. On-site involvement may range from sales to the installation of a complete composting solution, and even include training and sometimes also the management of the sites and composts downstream of waste processing. “Ménart contributes to a better environment by helping professionals and cities separate and compost waste, regardless of the sector, and add value to it,” concludes Bérengère Ménart.
The day we stand still will be the end of us
“In our field, research and development never stop. New opportunities are constantly emerging: generally, the problems encountered by our customers or prospects in the field lead us to innovate, by adapting our machines or imagining new ones. We focus all our efforts on this innovation as well as on the quality and performance of our products. As everyone knows, the cost of production is very high in Belgium. China certainly offers cheaper machines but of a much lesser quality. We therefore need to be always one step ahead: it’s simple, the day we stand still will be the end of us. Our other strength is our after-sales service and our flexibility. We can customise our machines to specific requirements and offer tailor-made solutions, something our German competitors, for instance, do not do.”
Some technical profiles, always sought after…
If Bérengère Ménart had a request for politicians, it would be to put more focus on vocational programmes in education: “We need more young people to learn those trades. Recruiting an all-rounder technician is still quite a challenge. Especially since soft skills (language, team or project management, etc.) are becoming more and more important for these functions. At Ménart, there are positions I am constantly trying to fill...” The work-linked training courses for these profiles remain a real opportunity for companies. Indeed, through this training (part of which takes place in a company), students acquire technical skills but also these soft skills.
Belgian people are not patriotic enough
“Our French, Asian, South American or Canadian customers won’t question the quality of our products. I sometimes get invited to conferences abroad as an expert because Ménart is considered a reference in its field. Amazingly, however, we’ve noticed how little known we are in our own country,” comments Bérengère. “The French attach great importance to buying “French”. Conversely, in Belgium, many consider that, without fail, German industry will manufacture superior quality products. This preconception is very hard to dispel. Yet, Ménart generates 85% of its turnover abroad. We supply major international groups and we have taken almost all of the South American market from our German competitors... All the same, this type of thing does not happen by chance, does it?” wonders Bérengère.
The remark made by Bérengère Ménart is not something new; we have repeatedly heard other Belgian industrialists express the same feelings. Even though our small national market is generally not sufficient to ensure the sustainability of these companies, showcasing here in Belgium the excellence, success and quality of the products of these innovative companies is the goal that Agoria has set itself through the www.makeitinbelgium.be website.
More info: http://www.menart.eu/en