One day, you'll find the job of a lifetime at Decospan. Both Joost and Niels will definitely agree. Both men joined Decospan about ten years ago. What they didn't know then was that their careers were about to take off. “I was studying at the VTI and smoothly rolled into Decospan by chance, as a trainee. About a year ago, I was promoted to quality manager,” says 31-year-old Niels Vanhoutte. Decospan was also an instant success for truck driver Joost Jacques. For the past three years, he has been a team leader in the varnish department. Decospan does not let your talents go to waste. Literally.
After 20 years of loyal service as a truck driver, Joost Jacques decided to make a change and try his luck at Decospan. “Although I came from a completely different industry, I applied for a job as a machine operator in the varnish department,” says Joost. “I could start immediately on a trial basis and a little later I got my permanent contract.” Joost showed what he had to offer right from the start. He soon completed a training as a machine operator, but a few years ago he was given a great opportunity to grow. “The first five years, I really gave it my all as an operator. When the volumes continued to rise, the team was expanded and we increasingly worked in shifts. Thanks to my great commitment, I was given the opportunity to become a team leader. Of course, I seized the opportunuity with both hands,” he says.
Niels Vanhoutte also gained the necessary trust right from the start: “After my first, instructive VTI internship at Decospan, where I got to know just about every aspect of veneer production, I took a bachelor's course in Wood Technology at the Hogent. This also included an internship assignment. Once again, Decospan welcomed me with open arms. In that period I wrote an extensive manual for the Decoflex department for new employees. After my internship, I was brought on board as a real employee, initially to write a similar manual for each work station,” Niels says. “But it was the start of a very nice career path.” Niels worked at almost every workstation in the chain, from production development and quality control to the grouting department and the presses. Two years later, he was managing a team of 30 people as production manager. “Thanks to the many training courses I received, things really started to happen fast. A little over a year ago, I was promoted to quality manager.
Good training is half the job
Both Joost and Niels were given the opportunities they deserved at Decospan, but they were also expected to show commitment and dedication. They went through an extensive learning process, not only internally but also externally. Joost: “When I became a team leader, I was expected to learn the ropes. For this, I checked out many different production environments at other companies, such as Daikin, to see and learn from their team leaders. I was also trained in people skills by various keynote speakers.” Niels also received a broad training package during his trajectory. Via Voka, as a production manager, he visited numerous companies to gain insights and made many valuable contacts. In addition, he attended many sessions on people management, quality management and working methods training. “On the one hand, these courses give you a fantastic footing and, on the other, it is valuable knowledge for life,” Niels says.
Remarkable: both Joost and Niels do not only talk about training, but also about different mentors who guided them during their career. Overall team leader Pieterjan Lernout, plant manager Silke Desmet, COO Maarten Van Vooren ... All of them people who shared their specific know-how in the technical field, in the field of entrepreneurship or in reporting with Niels and Joost. “My mentors taught me so much,” says Niels. “Their attitude was inspiring and they still act as my sounding board. Although they are not holding your hand all the time. They provide you with the necessary knowledge, but then it's up to you to show that you can do something with it.”