From a natural cork factory in Brussels to a manufacturer and distributor of closures with an international reach. Eurocap & Eurocork has undergone an exciting and successful growth curve in recent years. At the helm? Bart Geeraert and Catherine Fernandes: entrepreneurs and spouses who run their business with drive, dynamism and an ambitious growth mindset. ‘Our strength lies in how we complement each other. Developing a strategy, hitting targets, managing a team, building customer relationships ... We complement each other perfectly.’ Find out more.
Hello Bart and Catherine. Today, you two run Eurocap & Eurocork with a passionate team in the heart of Rotselaar. How did you get your start?
Bart: ‘My father bought the company in 1986. At that time, it was called Rexach & Cie, located in the centre of Molenbeek. And it specialised in natural cork stoppers, with a focus on wine. My father had no experience in the industry, but he was very keen on business. After taking over the company, he did everything he could to grow the business, with several relocations as a result. He moved from Brussels to Nossegem to Rotselaar, for example, which is still the beating heart of our production. When I turned 25, in 2007, I joined the company.’
Catherine, you entered the picture later?
Catherine: ‘Indeed. After my studies, I worked as a consultant, then I began working as a barrister in Brussels. It was a job I did with all my heart, especially the client contact and the advising! Yet, after awhile, it began to dawn on me ...’
Bart: ‘Catherine had always been interested in going into business for herself.’
Catherine: ‘Especially given that my parents have always worked for themselves. The idea of working on a project together, that also appealed to me. Inspired by Bart’s adventures, I took the plunge in 2015. A switch that today, seven years on, I’ve never regretted for a single moment.’
Running a business as a couple is not always easy. What is the key to your success?
Catherine: ‘Barn and I really complement one another. The things he’s not the greatest fan of give me energy and vice versa.’
Bart: ‘Catherine, for example, is highly customer-oriented. No matter the customers’ questions, she goes to great lengths to find a solution, always. But she’s also super social, friendly and cheerful, both to the customers and other team members. These people skills allow her to make a real difference.’
Catherine: ‘Bart’s good at everything to do with the finance and production side of things. Discussing bookkeeping, suggesting ideas to engineers, sparring about chemical product compositions ... Bart is not some CEO who blindly outsources tasks; he’s very knowledgeable about a wide range of topics. I think that’s his strongest trait. And he doesn’t panic when we’re under stress. That’s a significant plus point. (laughs)
During COVID, for example?
Catherine: ‘Because of Corona, everything closed down. No one knew what to expect. Even now, these are uncertain times with unpredictable raw material prices and delivery times. Bart’s someone who sees opportunities in difficult times. Formulating a strategy and implementing it step by step, that’s really his thing.’
Bart: ‘For me, supervising a team is quite a challenge. It’s my nature to focus on figures and processes. Guiding and coaching people, that’s harder for me. Catherine has more talent and a better feel for that.’
How has the company grown over the years?
Bart: ‘Both in terms of surface area and people. The company started out with four employees. Today, we employ a team of twelve.’
Catherine: ‘The product range has also expanded systematically. Initially, the emphasis was on natural cork. But we noticed our customers needed a wider range.’
Bart: ‘We gradually began offering other products. Shrink and complex capsules, muselets, screw caps, crown caps, etc. Plastic corks and T-corks for spirits were also added to the range. There has also been a trend towards smaller series and more personalisation options. As a company, we focus on that as much as possible.’
Catherine: “What’s more, we prefer to be as close to our customers as possible! After all, producing in-house means you can offer greater flexibility and shorter delivery times.’
So, flexibility and personalisation are an absolute must. As a company, what do you value?
Bart: ‘Technical expertise. For me, that’s essential. Not only that we deliver a product, but also that we advise and guide our customers throughout the process. Our sector is so specific; every product and production process is different. You cannot simply copy-paste solutions, every closure is tailor-made.’
Catherine: ‘And, because we sell different products, we have the advantage of offering objective advice on the various closures. Customers can feel that, that you offer advice with an open mind.’
How would you describe the DNA of Eurocap & Eurocork?
Catherine: ‘Our team is super! Everyone has their own unique aspects and stories. And humour is the glue that holds everything together, anyhow. We do our job carefully and punctually, but we don't take ourselves too seriously." (laughs)
Bart: ‘We have a very informal, horizontal organisation that respects everyone. Production worker, engineer or employee: everyone’s treated the same way. The company’s international character is also special, with employees who hail from Poland, Iraq and Taiwan.’
Catherine: ‘It’s important to me that everyone feels at home here. From the lunchtime chats to the Friday apéro. Or, one of our employees will bring his BBQ and cook pulled pork for eight hours for everyone to enjoy around the table in the evening. Fantastic!’
Finally, what are your ambitions for the future?
Bart: ‘To grow! In terms of production, thus also in space and personnel. Local production and personalisation remain our focus.’
Catherine: ‘I’m also looking forward to exploring even more international markets. We’re ready!’