How did we get to where we are today?
Our history goes back to 1977, when Arnold van Geenen asked his sons Nico and Gerrit to join him in setting up a new company. And “Slijperij Van Geenen”, a specialised grinding company, was born. The starting capital was virtually zero. The fledgling business was set up in a building formerly used as a café, which went under the name of “De Verfpot” (“the Paint Tin”). The new entrepreneurs had to sell their own cars to raise at least some of the funds required to invest in tools and equipment.
They worked long days, and the work was often tough. Their initial customers numbered several foundries and the men also did some deburring for specialised chroming companies. After a number of years, the work dried up. New foundries were set up in what was then the Eastern Bloc, and margins came under pressure. Meanwhile, Nico had become managing director. He decided that Van Geenen should move into a different business direction. This was not only a good move, it was also essential to the survival of this family enterprise.
The year was 1982. The ancient café had just been swapped for new business premises at the Rijssen industrial estate. It was then that the crisis hit. The family had made investments to the tune of 240,000 guilders, a huge sum at the time, but work was thin on the ground.
And so, Nico started his search for a new product that could be made on the same premises. Something different from cast iron made in a foundry. Stainless steel, also known as Inox steel, was to give the company a new lease of life. Stainless steel was becoming increasingly popular, but nobody really knew how to work it. Neither did Van Geenen. However, Nico decided to specialise in the processing of stainless steel. This product had only just been discovered but was to eliminate the process of chrome-plating almost completely in the coming years. In the start-up phase, it turned out that stainless steel processing was a pioneering process of trial and error. In the mid-1980s, Van Geenen was one of very few Dutch companies that specialised in stainless steel processing. The new company direction paid off, and thanks to the know-how and experience that Van Geenen was quick to accumulate, it was able to attract renowned companies from high-quality industries. These included tank manufacturing, equipment building, the semiconductor industry, yacht building, interior construction and so on.
Throughout the years, Van Geenen was to enjoy a steady growth in size, with machinery and number of staff steadily increasing. In 1995 the decision was taken to build new premises, and the size of the building housing the company more than doubled in size, reaching 2,500 square metres. Beforehand, Van Geenen’s main business was manual grinding and polishing, but after the expansion the company started taking serious steps into machine grinding and polishing. The new hall saw the installation of (semi-)automated grinding and polishing machines for the processing of sheet metal, tubes and cutting parts. Van Geenen’s fame spread across the Netherlands, but also beyond its borders, in Germany and Belgium for example.
Around 2005 the company started investing in clean-room cleaning and packaging of a range of products. It acquired the necessary installations, and the premises were once again expanded. The high-tech and semiconductor industry in particular wishes to have its products returned in a sparkling clean state. Now, this can be done under the same roof after mechanical grinding and/or polishing treatment. This is ideal for these two industries, and to this day ensures a constant stream of orders from this business area.
Most recent expansion and the advent of the third generation in 2012, Van Geenen inaugurates a new production hall. Van Geenen has now made huge inroads into the world of machine grinding and polishing. The premises now occupy 5,000 m2, and the company has invested in top-of-the-range machinery. Every day, Van Geenen is involved in the machine processing of tonnes of panels, tubes and other basic materials. Even so, the department where it all began – manual grinding and polishing – is still flourishing. The staff now numbers to 30, with an approximate 50/50 split. In the meantime, the third Van Geenen generation has joined the company. Bart van Geenen, the son of Nico, started work here in 2011. In 2015 he officially took over the baton from his father Nico as Managing Director.