Dominating the office building market in Belgium, Interbuild offers its clients high quality solutions, as Eric Verbeeck reveals
Building relationships

Dominating the office building market in Belgium, Interbuild offers its clients high quality solutions, as Eric Verbeeck reveals

Based in Antwerp, Interbuild is one of the largest construction companies in the Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) region. As part of the Royal BAM Group, the business enjoys the benefits of being closely associated with one of Western Europe’s five largest construction firms.

The BAM Group is a market leader in the Netherlands and has acquired significant market positions in the UK, Ireland, Belgium and Germany. In each of these countries there are separate operating companies, including Interbuild, which is independently accountable for its own profitability.

Eric Verbeeck, a board member at Interbuild comments: “The BAM Group has recently increased its presence in Belgium with the acquisition of a business called Betonac. This company specialises in civil and road works. As a result, the group now has four companies in Belgium. In addition to Interbuild and Betonac, the organisation also owns Galère and CEI – De Meyer. By being part of the larger BAM Group, we can leverage the strengths of the whole business, which allows us to be more flexible and take on more challenging projects.”

Interbuild Issue 1 2008 bInterbuild is a general contractor, which completes mainly nonresidential projects. The company undertakes everything from the renovation of existing buildings to the construction of new office blocks, commercial centres and leisure parks. Approximately 75 per cent of Interbuild’s total work is accounted for by the construction of office blocks.

As a result of this, the company can offer unrivalled expertise in this area of the market. Interbuild has a major project in Leuven for the KBC bank currently under construction. The business is the general contractor for construction of this prestigious office building. The new 43,000 square metres building is located near to the station. With a completely transparent five metre high glass base, supporting the five new buildings, the contemporary structure connects directly to the train station.

Furthermore, a façade of granite and glass will give each building a distinctive look and a different colour, including red, white, green, black and yellow, with a total length of 300 metres and width of 30 metres. Under its glass base, an enormous underground car park is being constructed with floor space large enough to house 700 cars. Other parking floors will house the 5000 bicycles used by the huge numbers of students that take the train every week to the famous student city.

In addition to this project, Interbuild was the main contractor for the renovation of one of Brussels’s most characteristic buildings, the Finance Tower, which has recently had a 200 million euro facelift. Located in the heart of Belgium’s economic and administrative centre, the 145-metre high Finance Tower has 36 storeys and a total floor space of 200,000 metres square.

Eric explains: “The renovation included the removal of all the asbestos and the demolition of everything except the main concrete shaft. As a result of this the overall floor area has nearly doubled in size. The area around the building is also being transformed into a city hotspot for people to meet.”

He continues: “Over the last few years, we have concentrated our efforts on larger office building projects, which allows us to focus our skills and expertise on fewer areas. In addition, like most companies in Europe, we have mobility issues – it is time consuming and costly to move people around. Therefore, by having fewer but larger projects, we can keep employees in one area for longer.”

Eric adds: “Some of the projects we are currently working on include, the new AXA building named ‘JECL’, which is located in the heart of Brussels’ European district, the restoration of a large inner-city shopping centre in Antwerp, and the construction of the new fire engine station and justice court in Antwerp.”

One of the main challenges within the construction industry at the moment is its lack of skilled employees. Although Interbuild has developed a strong and committed workforce over the years, the company is still affected by this issue. Looking at ways to overcome this, Eric comments: “We are currently working with sub-contractors from Poland and Portugal to help us undertake our projects successfully and on-time. One of our main goals is to attract young people to the sectorand provide excellent training opportunities. By keeping a close eye on our human resources, we will be able to get the right people, in the right place, and undertake high quality projects.”

In addition to employing the right people, Interbuild develops close relationships with its clients in order to determine their needs. “If you want to succeed in the construction industry you have to have a strong client network so you know where the next investments will be made. We have our own research and development department, which keeps a close eye on the market and works in relationship with our customers,” Eric comments.

He continues: “In addition, we are continually looking at new niche markets, which we can diversify into. There is still plenty of potential in the residential market and in addition there are a number of school and prison projects, which we are looking to take on. The Belgian construction market is very busy at the moment, and we are well positioned to make the most of it.”

Interbuild is very aware that the market may not remain this strong in the future, therefore the company is continually building on its main strengths. Eric concludes: “One of the key reasons for Interbuild’s success is that we have kept the business alive and aggressive. We do everything we can to make our people happy and to
keep them happy. We also have very direct lines of command with little overhead structure, which makes the distance between the on-site people and management in the company relatively short.”