Van Leeuwen
A modern spin on the classic steel business

A modern spin on the classic steel business

Nadia Chhiti,
Jean Wauters, Bruxelles, Belgium

Jean Wauters is a specialist in stocking and distributing a wide assortment of bar steel. The company started in 1924 and we are part of the Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Group since 2012. My name is Nadia Chhiti, Commercial director of Jean Wauters in Bruxelles.

You probably know Wauters as a traditional steel company, but nowadays we are much more than that. To become a worldwide steel service provider is quite a challenge. Saying goodbye to existing patterns and turning into new paths is often an intense process. Especially if we want to be innovative, without losing sight of our core values.

Reinventing ourselves

At Wauters we have an eye for the processes in need of innovation. While steel is a constant, the world around it is always moving.

At this moment we work hard to further digitalize our company. For instance, our webshop - active since 2016 - is still growing every week. It’s a modern spin on the classic steel business.

Reinventing ourselves also means operating from one location instead of the two we are currently working from. At that point, it will be crucial to automate our warehouse processes. This will improve our logistic performance drastically.

From traditional to agile management

When I started as a manager, all my references in management style followed a traditional approach. I believe in the development of the members of my teams, from skilled people to experts in their fields.

At first, I began putting the right people at the right place. That way I could create a successful team in which the different competencies complement each other.

To give these talented people the room to develop their initiatives and ideas, they  need support of their manager.

I believe that the culture of a company is defined by the habits of its managers. Being an example as a leader,  also means supporting people, and not being afraid of accepting mistakes and learning from them. Being vulnerable, in this case, becomes a strength. We are flexible and can adapt at any time.

Being flexible in a constantly moving market

In the steel business, we tend to follow market demand. Traditionally steel distributors submit to the requirement of customers, economic growth, and market dynamics. At Wauters, we decided to use our flexibility, our skillset and our sense for innovation to create opportunities. We set out to explore markets we previously did not dare go to. We used to submit to the ups and downs of the market. This is something we do not want anymore. We integrate the fluctuations of the steel business in our model, and that has become a part of our success.



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