Van Leeuwen

Combulex: "The foundation and foundation renovation industries are our key areas of focus"

Martijn 't Hart,
Combulex, Vianen, the Netherlands

Combulex was founded in 1967 by Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube based in Zwijndrecht and Excelsior-De Maas from Oosterhout. For years, the sale of these two tube manufacturers’ surplus production, as well as the procurement, sorting and selling of tubes originating from other European mills, was our core business. Since the past two decades, however, we have shifted towards a focus on horizontal and vertical foundation engineering. Now that our new website is live, I would like to introduce Combulex to you and tell you what we do.

I became commercial director at Combulex in September 2017. Before that, I worked as a sales manager. As commercial director, I am responsible for the entire sales organization. Now, fifty years after being founded, Combulex has over twenty-five employees and we have developed into a versatile tube trader and an important supplier of tube and foundation solutions for the civil engineering market. We entirely belong to the Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Group now.

Started as an outlet

Combulex was founded in the sixties as an outlet of sorts. During tube production, a certain percentage of materials does not make it through the quality tests. The size may be slightly off, or some other requirement has not been met. In the past, these products were scrapped and reused in the oven. Piet van Leeuwen, founder of Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube, thought this was a waste. Naturally, the scrap value is much lower than a new tube which has passed quality control, because it now has numerous uses. That is how we started out as a specialist in second choice tubes.

Active in civil engineering

Besides the distribution of tubes, over the years, we have become very active in civil engineering. This specialty will play an increasingly bigger role in our company. Because we have been interested in civil engineering since the eighties, the time was right to pay some special attention to this branch on our website.

Flared tubular piles

In 1988 we already developed the first machines for the deep foundation industry which could, among others, restore foundations during renovations. To this end, we supply steel tubular piles which can be used in limited spaces of existing buildings. Think, for instance, of the canal houses in Amsterdam. Our machines allow piling in these small spaces.

Our tubular piles often have segments measuring two or three meters (it is possible, however, to produce a single segment measuring up to 6 meters), depending on the available crawl space in the basement. The pipes go twenty to thirty meters down into the ground and are then filled with cement. In order to stack the segments properly, we swage them. That way, the tubes easily fit together to be welded. In other words, each element is stacked and piled into the ground.

Renovation branch is main industry

We also supply  harness tubes. Like the tubular piles, these tubes are also swaged and extendable. They are placed underground, for instance, to protect fiber optic cables. We also use them to lay foundations for roads, sound barriers and solar parks built on foundations. It all happens in the same manner: a steel pipe is driven into the ground and filled with concrete to form a foundation for something that’s built on top. It can be applied to a broad array of projects. Therefore, the foundation and foundation renovation industry is our largest market.

Highly flexible

During new construction projects, day-to-day activities are planned months in advance. In the case of existing housing, however, the lead time is much shorter. We can only get to work when the old foundation is visible. Until that happens, it’s hard to make predictions. This means our projects often start on an ad hoc basis and we have to be able to switch between activities quickly. Our flexible delivery and large stock are very useful in these scenarios.

Making preparations for our clients

Combulex offers a wide variety of piles in terms of wall thickness, diameter and length. That means we can adapt quickly to a change in specification requirements. We also deliver on location, which is unique in this industry. The actual work often takes place in old city centers, where only trucks which pass the strictest regulations are allowed. This is what sets us apart. Furthermore, we package our products according to the client’s specifications. These tubes have a special set-up, so by delivering them as composed kits, we already make preparations for the client. This means they don’t have to worry about that.

A clear split

The quality of the products, how and where we deliver them and our quick response times are how we can make a difference. With the launch of our new Combulex website, we have taken our first step in making our two separate specialties more visible: tube distribution and civil engineering. We will kick off a campaign to support our new business model in the near future, so be sure to visit us soon!



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