EW Magazine – Family businesses are the backbone of the Dutch economy

Anyone who hears that roughly 80 per cent of their current raw materials will eventually disappear will be shocked. You could hardly get Marlies van Wijhe any more ambitious. The CEO of 105-year-old Van Wijhe Verf – known for Wijzonol, among other things – loves to pioneer. “It invokes our innovative power.”

Europe’s Green Deal is changing the paint industry in a big way. However, she finds the enforced sustainability very welcome. “It opens everyone’s eyes. The family business itself introduced a bio-based wall paint back in 2012, recently updated with a third version. And it was the first chemical company to receive a B-corp quality mark. “Such choices secure our right to exist.”

The consequences of the green measures are not yet exactly clear. That is precisely why she wants to put the subject at the top of the agenda. “Not waiting for suppliers, but staying in the lead. We try to present the new world as well as possible.”

A major role in this is reserved for the company’s R&D department. Last year, a new innovation lab was already opened in Groningen. “The lesson is that you have to make time and space where specialists are not taken away by the hectic pace of the day.”

It resulted, for example, in Solidlux’s new UV lacquer. “Not ‘Green Deal’-ready yet,” she says. “But by not using solvents, the CO2 impact has been reduced considerably compared to competing products. It’s a step towards the end goal.”

The number three paint manufacturer in the Netherlands can afford it. “As a family business with a long-term horizon, we are more sustainable by nature. We see profit as a means, not an end in itself.” Luxury? “No, a choice. Innovation is the most important way to continue entrepreneurship.”


Source: Elsevier Weekblad

17 april 2021