Interview with Thierry Verreet

Thierry Verreet has been the managing director of verope AG for a year, but he has known the work with and around special wire ropes since childhood. Despite his young age, he runs the company with a lot of calm and experience and of course deals with sustainability on a daily basis! We had the chance to conduct an interview with him and thus gain insights into verope's sustainable future planning.

Mr Verreet, what is your professional background at verope?

I already sorted files with my father during my school days and then after graduation I learned the assembly of special wire ropes at one of our dealers for 6 months. I then put these skills to the test again and again during the semester breaks during my time at university. My first station as a “permanent part” of verope was then the project management of verope Service Center GmbH (VSC). In September 2018, I took over the management of KV R&D Center GmbH and since November last year, I have been both Managing Director at verope Service Center and, together with Mr Elig, Managing Director at KV R&D.

Pretty big tasks!

It’s a lot to do and a lot of responsibility, but I really enjoy it, I have to say.

Very good! Sustainability is an important topic at the moment – what does sustainability mean to you personally?

For me, sustainability means responsible use of resources. However, sustainability must also be compatible with economic goals in our company. We want to place the issue of sustainability very high up in the company, but of course we have to consider all the measures we implement in the context of competitiveness.

In other words, we want to increase our awareness of how we use our resources.

So it is also a question of thinking every day about how we can change certain things on the smallest and largest scale that are good for the environment – or how we can reduce our consumption of certain resources. It starts with every employee drinking all the water they get for free, instead of leaving the rest in the bottle or throwing it away. It continues with the responsible use of company vehicles, travel activities, but also in production and packaging. Because we work with very large electricity- and gas-consuming machines here, we want to pay special attention to becoming more sustainable in this area and use these machines accordingly.

What do you think verope is already doing quite well in this area? I know you get electricity from a photovoltaic system – what else does verope do?

Yes, we have photovoltaic systems, that’s one thing. We have agreed with many suppliers that our wooden reels will be returned whenever possible and thus reused as often as possible. In addition, we already do without packaging materials for many retailers and customers and want to expand this even more in the future. In the past, it was common to wrap the reels in black foil to protect the ropes from external influences, especially water. This caused a lot of packaging waste. This has now been abolished for most of our customers, and we have received positive feedback throughout and have been very well supported in the implementation. We are choosing hybrid or electric vehicles for future company vehicles.

For the new building, we want to install a large-scale Photo-voltaic systems on the roof and expand the existing system.

For our new building here at the Service Centre, we want to find an alternative heating and electricity system. We want to plant the many unused grass areas around the VSC as flower meadows. In the future, we don’t want to use diesel forklifts in the company, but electric forklifts. With the exception of one, we have already completely implemented this. On the sales side, we have pushed the issue of “direct shipments” a lot. This reduces the carbon footprint of our products enormously; we don’t send the ropes to the VSC first, but directly from the production site to the customers. By installing new water taps in the company, the beverage supplier no longer has to deliver water bottles, but each employee gets two bottles of their own from us to fill up. At the moment, we are also reviewing our paper consumption and would like to reduce it even further, and in the best case scenario, even go completely paperless.

It sounds to me as if verope wants to intervene at every point where there is room to maneuver.

Absolutely. For example, we have tested a number of biodegradable lubricants that we offer to our customers. But because of the higher price compared to conventional lubricants, this is also difficult; there is only a conditional willingness in some cases.

I remember the meeting in January about ISO certification. It was about the question of where verope actually has room for maneuver. As far as I remember, it was mainly in the area of transport.

We are also in talks with our partners about setting up another factory in Europe and thus extremely shortening the transport routes for the European market.

Do you feel that the issue of sustainability is playing an increasingly important role in the industry, or is that not something you can say in general terms?

I certainly feel that way, especially in Europe, but also worldwide. For many of our customers, this topic plays a central role. For several of them, sustainability is also an important topic at Bauma 2022. Many of our customers have told me that the topic is also becoming more and more present in their everyday work – one customer told me that they were evaluated by their customers on the topic of sustainability for the first time in their company’s history and now want to deal with the topic even more intensively because they have admitted to themselves that there is a lot of need for action in this area. My general impression is that the topic is becoming more and more present – worldwide. Of course, the topic first comes up with the larger ones in the industry. In my opinion, it is already more present and dealt with more intensively by large crane manufacturers than by smaller distributors who operate locally. You notice the differences. In general, however, it has arrived in the industry. Even our direct competitors are already doing a lot in this area.

Yes, fortunately it’s a big topic, and unfortunately it’s also very important now. Can you imagine that verope will have a special team for this? For example, a sustainability officer?

We have initially made this a management matter, as the management staff of the individual subsidiaries can of course operate the levers much more effectively than other employees. But in the future, we can imagine being active in this direction in terms of personnel and expanding this area over time.

Finally, do you have any examples of verope in figures? Or any concluding remarks?

I know off the top of my head that we feed about 33{a889db705b9dbdba2a8d0dbcfc2b631547dc85af52ef75a70f044d2486ae0f02} of our electricity needs with the photovoltaic system here at the VSC. We are creating 5300sqm of roof space with the new plant, on which we plan to have full photovoltaic systems. For these we want to acquire additional energy storage units to store the energy generated.

Our goal is to become completely self-sufficient there.

At the moment we still have the problem that during the day the systems feed all the electricity into our system, but after the main operating hours, when the employees who do not work in shifts have finished work, we feed the electricity into the public grid for little money and have to buy it back the next day for a lot of money. We want to prevent this in the course of the new construction with energy storage systems and thus become completely self-sufficient as far as electricity is concerned.

Then thank you very much for the nice and informative interview!

Thank you very much from my side as well.

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