The future of business from the eyes of our CEO Johan Paul

25 March 2022

How does the working day of Managing Director Johan Paul look like? What bottle necks is he experiencing in the market and where is HUPICO heading in the coming years?

Johan Paul - Managing Director HUPICO

How do you look back on the past year? It has been a year full of challenges in the industry with the corona troubles. A baptism of fire for you as Managing Director at HUPICO.

"A takeover in full Covid pandemic is indeed not easy. But I have not regretted this decision for a second.

At the first meeting with Pierre Huyghebaert, the then Managing Director, it was immediately clear that we were on the same page. An important point if you want to create added value within an organisation.

We did the necessary work in advance to make the transfer as smooth as possible. Not an easy challenge, certainly not with the general uncertainty that prevailed during the pandemic. Challenging times, looking back on them now.

Together with Pierre, we now form a solid tandem, working together with the entire HUPICO team on an exciting growth story.

We're in good shape. HUPICO has achieved a nice turnover growth the last two years. These are figures to be proud of. We plan to further strengthen this growth in the coming years.

Besides the financial figures, there is also the human aspect. During the last year, the biggest challenge was to maintain sufficient contact with the employees, because of, among other things, compulsory homework and other measures. But we came through that period well. Certainly, when you look at the latest reactions from our recent team building. The fun was palpable.

I am pleased to see that we and our employees have come through this period well. I look back on this period as a learning experience, which also forced me as an individual to further develop my management style." - Johan Paul

What appealed to you to get on board in the company?

"Before the acquisition, I saw within HUPICO a lot of interesting expertise around industrial automation. A sector I have been following closely for 15 years. HUPICO's expertise and after sales service makes us unique compared to distributors of similar products. Many organisations talk about a 'customer and service oriented' vision but at HUPICO we can really live up to that. The size of our organisation allows us to react agile to situations and our employees have enough experience to take on problems hands-on.

Based on this strong foundation, I saw several opportunities for additional value creation. The sum was therefore quickly made." - Johan Paul

What do you attach great importance to within the company, both externally (towards customers) and internally (towards employees, subcontractors, etc.)?

"I can answer this question briefly. Keeping an open and honest communication is key. Both internally and externally, I find this extremely important. By communicating clearly, trust is created and long-term relationships can be built." - Johan Paul

What are you still dreaming of? What direction do you want to take with HUPICO? Where do you expect future growth to be achieved?

"We are in a world of pandemics where workers are not allowed to enter factories, raw material rates rise overnight, trade wars create investment uncertainty, travel disruptions slow everything down, etc. I strongly believe that new modular automation solutions, AI and IoT can provide an answer.

Shortly after the acquisition, we conducted a comprehensive strategic exercise with the team internally. One of the things that came out of it was that HUPICO should best focus on Industry 4.0 solutions. The plastic joining techniques division was sold to Bart Verbauwhede, who continues these activities under the name SALDICO. However, the ties have not been cut completely; we will continue to support SALDICO.

In terms of products, we have added complementary products to our portfolio in recent months. We have started a partnership with BeeWaTec on Autonomous Mobile Robots and Intralogistics. In addition, we have added AR assisted smart glasses for remote service to our product range to provide our customers with even better and faster service.

In the last year, we have also started a development project with the support of VLAIO. In addition, we are affiliated with Flanders' Make. The ambition is to use this to focus even more on innovation.

In the short term, everyone at HUPICO is looking forward to moving to our new location in Eke (at the De Pinte exit). By the end of May 2022, we will enter a building that is almost three times larger than our current building in Gentbrugge. At this new location, HUPICO will set up a highly equipped demo room for proof-of-concept tests. The brand new offices are adapted to the workplace of the future and we have a well-equipped warehouse and workshop. A real must, because we have the ambition to further strengthen our team." - Johan Paul

HQ Hupico


Finally, why should an entrepreneur choose HUPICO? What are the challenges of manufacturing environments in the coming years and how can we at HUPICO tackle them?

"When robotics, computer vision and Artificial Intelligence all come together, industrial transformation is not far behind. This is certainly true in the manufacturing industry.

HUPICO is much more than a classic distributor. As a solution provider, HUPICO strives to fully unburden its customers in their automation projects." - Johan Paul

This interview was conducted on 21/03/2022.