An excellent nose for business
Ten years ago, Bram Mutsaers and Luuk Schormans made a couple of smart deals on marktplaats.nl. Today, the two men have an assortment of 46,000 products in their own webshop gereedschapscentrum.nl and they are tapping into the Belgian, French and Spanish market. This is not some out-of-control hobby; it is having an excellent nose for business.
Bram Mutsaers was designing cranes when he became successful on marktplaats.nl. Pretty soon, business was going so well that it became difficult to combine it with his job: “I ran into Luuk. We already knew each from the city district de Blaak in Tilburg and we had attended the same elementary school. I told him: “If you focus on sales, I will focus on the financing and we will split the profits.” Luuk is a bit younger and he had just started college. This seemed like a better side job than stocking shelves at the supermarket.” The men were able to get started thanks to start-up capital from Luuk’s father. Three years later, Bram quit his job, Luuk had finished school and they hired their first employee.
Early adopters of the Internet inside the industry
Soon after, business was booming. Bram: “One of the reasons was that we were early adopters of the Internet inside the industry. Usually, builders are rather old-fashioned when it comes to these things, you know.” They tapped into the foreign market, where they are known as Fixami via the parent company HBL Online. “In Spanish, gereedschapscentrum.nl doesn’t have the same ring.” Over the years, Bram and Luuk have become more professional. “We both think in terms of our products instead of the name. This allows us to do a lot of research and we are able to find out what people need. As a result, our staff, technology and automation keeps increasing”, Bram explains passionately.
A lot of students and good employees
Luuk went straight from school to working in the company. The same happens to many of Bram and Luuk’s employees. “We employ a lot of students, many young people. We don’t have any problems finding good employees. That is a big plus. Moreover, many people in Tilburg like to contribute and want to help us. Also, the relationship with the municipality is excellent. I can imagine there are places where that isn’t the case,” Bram ponders.
Bram and Luuk are proud of what they have achieved as a team. Bram: “Last year, we won the Gazellen Award. That was an honour. It gives us energy.” Currently, HBL Online/gereedschapscentrum.nl once again bulges at the seams which is why the company is moving to the business park next to Vossenberg II this autumn. Bram and Luuk are already busy making new plans: “It would be wonderful if we could not only conquer the market, but also shift it. After all, the online focus keeps growing.”
The product can be seen as part of the exhibition 'Tilburg and its makers' at Hotel Mercure, Heuvelpoort 300, Tilburg.