Transparency a definite asset with Jean-Charles Wibo’s companies

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Jean-Charles Wibo is owner of the Vlassenroot Group, a market leader in XXL steel processing, with the Antwerp Courthouse and Charles de Gaulle International Airport as two recent projects they were involved in. Wibo is also involved in the Dekeukelaere laundry business, which handles linen rental and maintenance for the hotel sector. Wibo is a customer of Odot for both companies; we had the opportunity to talk to him about his companies and about energy.

From manager to entrepreneur

"I started my career in banking. Later I took over my first company and that’s how I came across Vlassenroot, which I acquired just before it went into bankruptcy and which I developed over the years into a European company with three branches: in Belgium, Germany and Poland,” Jean-Charles commenced his narrative.

In 2008 they were hit hard by the financial crisis. Wibo: “Within three weeks we lost 70% of our turnover because our customers put their projects on hold. That’s when I started to analyze how I could diversify and developed from being a manager to being an entrepreneur. I still feel comfortable with that."


Energy challenges

Both Vlassenroot and Dekeukelaere are high energy consumers. “Vlassenroot produces large metal structures and our three laundry facilities also use a lot of energy. In the laundry business the rise in energy prices is actually having a direct impact on our customers. If energy costs go up for us, we have to pass them on to our customers. The challenge is to always buy gas and electricity at the lowest possible tariff and hedge as successfully as possible," Wibo continued. Something they are not able to achieve on their own.

Transparency is the greatest asset

“Odot has been like a gift from the gods," Wibo says without exaggeration. “First they analyzed all our energy contracts and then identified where savings could be made. Odot handled this very methodically and involved us at every stage of the process to ensure that we were always aware of what was about to happen."

“Everything is done in a highly transparent manner. Many purchasing companies charge a commission on profits. What I like about Odot is that they work with a flat fee and do not charge a commission or percentage on the profits they obtain. Moreover, it should be said that the flat fee they charge is very reasonable for what they do and the targets they aim for with us,” Wibo added.

3 significant advantages

According to Wibo, the partnership with Odot is delivering three major benefits. “First and foremost, an understanding of the sector. Having worked with Odot I have learned how the sector operates. What is the actual energy cost and what is everything else on my bill? What about distribution and rights? I received answers to all these questions,” Wibo explained.

“The second benefit is that we have been able to reduce certain costs with help from Odot,” he continued. With assistance from Odot we managed to reduce the margins for Vlassenroot and Dekeukelaere. Savings with which they will recoup 2.5 times our cost. Working with Odot we were also able to lock in the gas price at the bottom of the market for 2020 for both Vlassenroot and Dekeukelaere.

Moreover, Vlassenroot operates solar installations that sell energy back to the grid. Before that, we could let the price increase with the variable price in 2018, to lock in the price for 2019 at the peak time in October. This means that with Odot we not only achieve a reduction in costs, but also help them return their own energy to the market in the most efficient way possible.

A third benefit, according to Wibo, is ‘trust’: “I don’t have to worry about whether there is a catch. They are honest and transparent, not chasing commissions. I am particularly happy with this kind of collaboration, based on regular contact before decisions are made.


Targeting the hotel sector together

Jean-Charles Wibo is so pleased with the partnership and its benefits that he is working in conjunction with Thomas Van Eeckhout, CEO of the Dekeukelaere laundry business, and Chris Elbers, CEO of Odot, to establish whether the three of them could achieve something on a larger scale in the hotel and laundry sector.

More on this in due course in our next interview with Thomas Van Eeckhout, CEO of Dekeukelaere!


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