If you are involved in horses and you need fencing, De Sutter Naturally will come to mind soon enough. The company is ambitious and does not stand still. We are currently in the process of expansion. “Fencing is our biggest pillar, and now we are working hard to make the second and third pillars just as big.”
Managing Director Jeffrey De Sutter and new CEO Alexander van Parijs are happy to explain their ambitious plans.
- Hi Jeffrey and Alexander. You are talking about widening and expanding. Can you tell us more about it?
Alexander:“We have been the specialist in horse fencing for over forty years, and we felt that expansion was necessary. The expansion took place first of all in the types of fencing, such as Post & Rail and wire mesh fencing. Secondly, we have expanded our range to include shelters. These were introduced two years ago in impregnated pine wood.
We really want to be able to offer total solutions for fields, not just for fencing. There’s a saying in Dutch that you can’t stand on one leg, and that is exactly what we thought. The fences are one leg, and the shelters are the second leg. Years ago, people had asked us about this, but we didn’t do anything with it at the time. While, actually, we have everything it takes to make this product as well. And now, since 2021, there is the extension to European Oak.”
Jeffrey: “We also noticed there was a lot of demand for it in the market. Now, our company has grown steadily since the beginning, but in the last five to ten years we really noticed an expansion. By offering more, we also leave a bigger mark on the market. Of course, the fences will remain an important pillar for us. You really have to see it as a complementary story. De Sutter Naturally has already built up a fine reputation, and we notice that we are a trusted partner in the sector. That is why the shelters are also doing great. And, we are also working on a third major pillar...”
- Things have also changed a bit internally, as Alexander is now the CEO of the company...
Jeffrey: “Yes, that’s right. If you want to expand, you have to have the time for it. I was busy every day with the board and everything involved in it, and there was little time left to think about innovations and new projects. Alexander is, of course, no stranger to the company, he has been working here for ten years, so he has seen it all.
Alexander has always been ambitious and he has always told us so. Six months ago, the time was right. And honestly? I am very happy about this development because I was starting to miss entrepreneurship. When you are busy with all the internal affairs on a daily basis, you hardly have time to be really strategic about the growth of your business. Now I do have time for that, and that is why we are taking further steps. So, we are working hard on the shelters, but we are also looking at what we can do for the garden sector in general. We do not want to be limited to the horse world, but are trying to broaden our horizons. This means that I can now deal with innovations, ecology and expansion because I have every confidence in Alexander.”
Alexander: “For me, this step is obviously great, we have also worked towards it for two years. I’m mainly concerned with the De Sutter Naturally brand - and everything covered by it - and Jeffrey is really taking care of the company itself. I think it is very nice to be able to witness the evolution of this company from close by. It is already a very different company than it was ten or even five years ago. When I first started, there were less than 15 employees; now there are 40. I have been through every step and so I know how the business works. To be the general manager now is really the icing on the cake.”
- You spoke earlier of a third pillar. What exactly is it about?
Alexander: “Well, we have also established a third pillar - Wood Solutions - which will allow us to translate our product knowledge to new markets. We are very much involved in the extraction, production and import of our own products. This allows us to supply wood as a raw material, but also as a finished product for industry or the public sector. We have the knowledge, we know the market and we have the right partners. We can offer customers even more and at the same time we have more security and more weight in the market.”
Jeffrey: “We do not advertise this under the De Sutter Naturally brand, and for many of these products nobody even knows that we supplied the raw materials.
These may include vineyard posts or wooden playground equipment in a park. Or how about all those thousands of signposts indicating routes, which can be found everywhere in public forests? You can call on us for that too. If I’m not mistaken, all the nature posts in East-Flanders were supplied by us. And some of these projects are really prestigious. For example, we supplied the wood for the oak terraces and stairs for the world-famous Tomorrowland festival. As you can see, we do so much more than just fences and shelters. And that’s our goal. We only sell materials of the highest quality and, as always, customers can count on our trusted top service.”
- That all sounds very promising! How do you look to the future?
Alexander: “Firstly, we hope that the shelters will become a pillar in their own right, on a par with our fences. Today, we are known mainly for fencing, but one day we hope to be known for both. But again: one will never be at the expense of the other. We now have the opportunity to expand and we seizing it with both hands. We are strong in everything related to wood, but we also strive for sustainability and sustainable developments. We see De Sutter Naturally as a project with an endless vision. As far as I am concerned, we’re adding another forty years.”
Jeffrey: “There are so many opportunities... If you keep your eyes open, the possibilities are endless. Now that I have more time to think about the future, I also come across more and more things. But our core standards will always remain the same. We stand for quality, durability and safety, and that will never change. And as Alexander said, we look to the future with optimism. We have plans to build an additional production hall here next year and we are continuing to work hard on our three main pillars.”