A NEW DAY WITH Herman De Cleene




When I graduated as a tropical agricultural engineer back in 1983, my first idea was to go into development work far away. But I met my future wife and we got married before she finished her studies, so I had to earn some money… My father asked me to join him in his business and after quite a lot of “no thank you”, I finally agreed to do it. And now – 32 years later – I am still in the same business.

My father passed away much too young. My colleague Luc and I had just bought my father’s company. It was a hard time, but we managed to pursue my father’s business and even expand it a lot.

In 2002 we were acquired by a much larger company and things really changed. We were not independent anymore, but employees with a salary and extra duties like 5 year plans and tremendous amounts of meetings on how to sell more instead of actual meetings with the customers. We went through two more owners before we finally became a CellMark office.

Being at CellMark is more like we used to know it when we were self-employed: we are encouraged to take initiative, have more freedom to develop new opportunities and can focus on the business part.

We are only 6 people in our office. I have known most of them for more than 10 years and we are a real team, more a kind of family. There are no sirs or madams in our office; everybody is at the same level, which for me seems to be quite general at CellMark.

Our office specializes in the iron foundry business, which is a niche industry. We offer almost all consumables and equipment a foundry could possibly need, promoting ourselves as a one stop shop where the customers can buy not only material, but solutions as well. Hearing a customer saying on the phone ”I have a problem, can you help me?” is a call we like.

But besides work there is private life. Nobody can be happy at work or performing well if he or she is not feeling good in their private life. I went through quite a turbulent time myself: lost both my parents and other family members in a short period, and got divorced. But now it is OK again. The relationship with my children is (and has always been) great, I met a new girlfriend 6 years ago and found a new hobby that keeps me in good physical shape: 2–3 times a week I do long jogging tours and running in the nature is one of the most relaxing activities I know. When I go on a business trip I always try to take my running shoes with me. And humor – I think humor is maybe one of the most underestimated ways of getting out of difficult times.