• Nieuws item
  • Nieuws item
  • Nieuws item
  • Nieuws item
  • Nieuws item
  • Nieuws item

Zeeland PortNews is een magazine over de Zeeuwse havens. Voor de nieuwste editie sprak de redactie met Sagro.

At a stone’s throw from the port of Zeeland, Sagro’s offices are situated in the village of ’s-Heerenhoek.

The company was founded in 1965 as a demolition and general contracting company. Over the years, the activities have expanded considerably. In short, Sagro is now a multidisciplinary company in the fields of infrastructure, demolition, space and the environment, logistics and recycling. Even though, over the years, Sagro has been built up from several subsidiaries, it is and remains a true family business.

In the meantime, the second generation has taken over the running of the business. Natalie Verhoef - de Jonge, joined the company in 2011. She talks with passion about her work, the company and their ambitions. She is responsible in particular for the internal organisation, including personnel, marketing, ICT and salary administration. Her two brothers have been active in the company for a long time and together they form the management. “It’s really fun to work with my brothers,” she says. “I recommend it to anyone. They do something different in the company; we complement each other well. The three of us are a good team.”

Bulk Material as the Basis
Sagro was founded as a demolition and contracting company. Over the years, several companies have been added. Natalie: “The list of activities we carry out has become really varied, but everything we do is connected, with each of our activities adding value to the other. It is a whole chain that has been built around bulk goods. My father started a demolition and contracting company in 1965. At that time, any surplus demolition materials were just seen as waste. We, the second generation, view demolition in a different way. We now live in a more sustainable and innovative world where there is no such thing as waste. All surplus materials can be re-used. One of our companies, Innovarec, is particularly involved, for example, in the re-use of concrete. In the village of Westdorpe, we have built our own concrete plant, which makes new concrete from concrete and masonry rubble. We have developed a recipe that makes concrete articles from rubble. We use it for such things as blocks that you can easily stack. We use it, for example, to build hangars or retaining walls and we have built partition walls in our depots from it. But we also use it to make benches and chairs.”

Rubble is just one of the many materials which results from the demolition process. “Of course we also come across wood or glass. And if we demolish a complete apartment complex, there are also kitchens or stairs. In the industry sector, we demolish complete factories. You actually come across everything. Once, we even found parts of carnival-floats in a barn. That was very special.” Sagro sorts all materials separately, either for re-use, for processing into new products or for the second-hand market. “We have a location for bulk storage and transhipment in the port of Vlissingen. When carrying out a demolition, we can choose to make use of either road or water transport. In the depots in ’s-Heerenhoek, Vlissingen and Schiedam, goods and products are temporarily stored until they are re-used. They are sold through our own building market and our webshop, soutlet.nl. Factory materials, electrical appliances, heavy equipment, wood, everything you can possibly imagine is on offer.” The website is actually meant for companies, but we are also getting an increasing number of orders from individuals through the webshop. It’s logical; the world is becoming digital. That is why we are present on various online platforms. We have an extensive website, we make videos, and put them on Facebook and LinkedIn.”

Transport
The materials that become available through demolition are transported by Sagro themselves. The rubble is ground down on the spot by a mobile crusher. The materials are removed by Sagro’s own transport company. “Because our company has its own transportation facility, we can also do other kinds of work; we can ultimately use our equipment for more purposes than just bulk cargo transportation,” explains Natalie. “We are also involved in container transportation, for example, and asphalt. We provide emergency services for road authorities. If an accident has occurred, we clean up the road and repair damage if necessary. We also take care of ice-control in the winter in many parts of Zeeland and in the harbour. We have special vehicles for this, and the road-salt is always ready, in the warehouse. In this way, we are expanding our fleet to be able to offer more services that just those concerned with bulk freight transport.”

Demolition is Construction in Reverse
Nevertheless, demolition remains the bread and butter of the company. “Demolition is actually construction in reverse. Whereas most people want construction to end up as a beautiful house and garden, we want it to end up as a piece of cleared land, paved or planted with greenery.” Certain facets of the company tie in well with this. Sagro Milieu Advies (Sagro Environmental Consultancy) is the consulting agency that specialises in research, advice and design in the field of space and the environment. The engineers carry out soil research, an asbestos inventory and archaeological research, and they draw up construction plans. “We have the facilities to completely re-design an area. We can draw up the blueprints and demolish buildings where necessary. It’s a seamless transition to earthmoving and ground-decontamination. In addition, we are also specialised in the construction of infrastructure, both below and above ground. The Maintenance Valuepark in Terneuzen is a nice example of this. So we can completely re-design an area until it’s in line with what’s on the drawing board.”

A Real Family Business
According to Natalie, Sagro is a true family business with all the associated values and standards. Nowadays, the company has about 200 people in permanent employmentand eighty on flexitime. “Permanent or flexible, they all belong,” she says. “We are loyal to our employees and they to us. We regularly celebrate twenty-five year work anniversaries. People stay with us for a long time and absenteeism is low. They have security here. Everyone can walk in and talk to us if there is something bothering them and we also know what’s going on outside. The feeling here is that we are working together to make Sagro what it is. Our employees are proud to work here. We are always working on the development of our people. In that regard, it is an advantage that there are so many disciplines within our company. Employees therefore have the opportunity to do a variety of different things and to find those that suit them. This advantage works both ways. Everyone has opportunities for self-development with us, and because people are flexible, we can better handle the peaks and falls in our business. Now it seems that the economy is improving, but if we suddenly experience a setback in one of our industries, we will be able to employ our personnel in another one. Let’s take a couple of examples: people who carry out the sprinkling services in winter provide general transportation during the summer and there are also drivers who we train as a mechanics so that they can work in our own garage during the quiet periods.” This garage is located directly behind the office in ’s-Heerenhoek. This is where Sagro maintains it complete fleet of vehicles.

Involved in Society
For more than fifty years, Sagro has been operating from ’s-Heerenhoek. The location is good, very central. “We are an hour from the port of Rotterdam, an hour from Antwerp and really close to Ghent.” But although the company operates nationally and internationally, it never forgets its Zeeland roots. “We consciously support initiatives in the region: the Zeeland support centre for loss and mourning and the Alzheimer’s cafe in Middelburg, for example. These are small foundations that are run completely by volunteers and do not have access to large funds. “By sponsoring local events, Sagro also hopes to reach young people.” Even though many employees remain committed to the company for a long time, the company is always looking for new, young talent. “We work extensively with schools to allow children and young people to get acquainted with the type of work and with our company. As a training company, we also educate people internally. Not only in technical subjects; we also have students in the marketing department. At our company, they can learn everything. At school they get specialised training; we make them multidisciplinary by also introducing them to other disciplines.”

Always Looking for Something New
Young people also bring a new boost to the company, a different view on business. That has advantages. “We are always looking for innovation, for new ways to use our materials, for better methods of processing. We keep a keen eye on developments in the market. There are always new opportunities, new ideas. This is why we closely monitor developments around drilling platforms. Many of these platforms will be taken out of production in the coming years. We have all the knowledge and expertise to dismantle them. So, when this becomes an option, we are ready.”