“When I took over this company, I’d never even had a profile in my hands. The more proud I am of the growth we’ve experienced.” Wim van Rijsingen sounds passionate when he talks about the history of Ripstaal, the company that he personally grew from a national player into a global top player. “Keep innovating, that’s the most important thing!”
Ripstaal develops and produces an extensive range of stucco profiles/mouldings and other smart and innovative construction finishing products. “Such as tile profiles, Indoor Construction Sheet®, Drywall Reveal Plasterboards, and so on. There is not a single house in the Netherlands that does not incorporate any of our products”, is Van Rijsingen’s firm statement.
Ripstaal gained a lot of attention with an innovative product: the Ripstaal KlicK-Board, a foldable corner profile that is attached to variable lengths of sheet material.
“With the KlicK-Board we won the European award for ‘best innovator in construction’. We then came second worldwide, behind America. It’s an ideal solution for plasterers: you don’t have to build and plastering any structures (such as coves, columns, walls and cover structures) yourself. You just click the system open, place your wall, lubricate it and you’re done!’ We deliver a solution to two major challenges in construction’.”
More profit, more fun
“We have calculated that the KlicK-Board provides eighty per cent labour benefits,” says Van Rijsingen. “With this product, we provide a solution for two major challenges in the construction industry: it has to be increasingly faster and cheaper and there is an increasing shortage of professionals. In addition, thanks to its simplicity and efficiency, the KlicK-Board provides more job satisfaction”.
“We once held a contest in Belgium. We challenged plasterers to take on our KlicK board system. Whoever had plastered his wall faster, could win an all-expense-paid vacation. I can tell you: the sleeves were rolled up! But they didn’t stand a chance, I didn’t have to give anything away. It just got me a lot of new customers!”
Deal on the plane
Van Rijsingen took over Ripstaal from the previous owner at the beginning of 2007. That career switch (Van Rijsingen was an entrepreneur in marble and natural stone) came about more or less by chance.
“I was on a plane to Italy, on my way to buy a new batch of stones. Next to me sat a friend of the owner of Ripstaal. He told me that there was no suitable successor. I knew enough. From an early age, I had an affinity with construction and I really wanted to run a company where I could deal with wholesalers instead of directly with consumers. A few months later I took over Ripstaal.”
Across the border
At that time Ripstaal only had Dutch customers, with the exception of one customer from Belgium. Van Rijsingen quickly took the step across the border
“We have doubled our production lines, are now active in fourteen countries with offices in England and Italy. Recently, we extended lines to countries such as America, Canada and Dubai. The price we won with the KlicK-Board is big boost for us. Our other products, made of alu-zinc, stainless steel and PVC, go with the flow”.
Innovation never stops
Van Rijsingen believes that innovation is the most important condition for the growth of his company. He has numerous practical examples that show that it pays to listen to the customer and adapt your business operations accordingly.
“Innovation never stops. A good example is the clickstrip of the KlicK-Board: it was too strong. I flew to Canada for a demonstration for potential customers, but when I wanted to bend the plates to a ninety-degree angle after landing, the system didn’t click. As it turned out, the plastic had become stiff in the plane. “Wait an hour,” I said. When the material returned at room temperature, it worked perfectly.”
“That example got us thinking. What happens when working in the cold or even frost? In the end, we added softeners to our plastic. It is still just as strong, but a few degrees softer and therefore suitable at low temperatures. We continue to work on further improvement and innovation through experience”.
Ripstaal is one of the few companies in Europe to produce the entire range of Construction Finishing Materials and metal stucco profiles in-house.
“We make the best of the best, we produce to the highest European standards. Of course, we can also outsource to China. But where should we go when the product rusts? We exclude that kind of risk by doing everything ourselves”.
Ripstaal continues to grow
Where is the horizon for Ripstaal, where about 50 employees are currently active? The sky is the limit, says Van Rijsingen.
“We strive to have our products used all over the world. A nice step in that direction is the commitment Knauf has shown. Knauf, a global plasterboard manufacturer, has embraced the KlicK-Board. As a result, we are already literally going all over the world. Our market is growing and we are growing along with it. By doing what we are good at and by continuing to innovate”.