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History of Intersig

This is a story about people with vision and a relentless drive, for whom no mountain is too high and no ocean too deep.
This is a story about entrepreneurs, convinced of their ingenuity and their abilities.
This is a true story about generations of family entrepreneurs in the steel processing industry.
This is the story of Intersig and tells how a modest Flemish company worked its way up to the top of the world.

All starts with Bevisol

In the nineteen sixties, Alfons Jansegers incorporates the company Bevisol in Wieze in East-Flanders. Bevisol stands for Béton Vibre Solide, i.e. solid vibrated concrete. This vibrated concrete, which forms the basis of the current Intersig, has a remarkable historical origin.
Almost one hundred years ago, a Dutch contractor, Gerrit Lieve, casted concrete floors in barns. When on a given day the wheel of his wheelbarrow broke down, he repaired it with a rope full of knots. Of course, this made the wheelbarrow shock enormously, which in turn led to the immediate compaction of the mortar within the wheelbarrow. Result: the concrete came out stronger than before. In 1932, Gerrit Lieve applied for a patent for this concrete compaction idea. For the avoidance of doubt: he patented “the vibrated concrete”, not the wheel repair method! This vibrated concrete is still being protected by patent 36029.

It started with prefab slabs

Bevisol soon acquires a solid reputation in the region as contractor and concrete plant and turns into a pioneer in developing a prefab slab and corresponding lattice girder. Such prefab slab is composed of a thick, precast concrete panel with visible lattice girders (1) all across the panel. On the prefab slab floor, a reinforcement mat (2) and concrete slab is cast, thus obtaining a monolithic concrete floor. So, the prefab slab is the bottom layer of the floor, which was already fitted with base reinforcement. This way, one can work fast because less formwork is required and larger surfaces can be covered in one single operation. To manufacture its own Sigma girder, the company then developed the lattice girder machine. Bevisol also had its own Sigma license.
The company focused above all on concrete production and machine construction (for girders). In 1979, the company acquired a patent for a lattice girder for concrete pavements.

Focus on steel

In 1983, Intersig is incorporated as manufacturer of lattice girders (construction girders and spacers) (3).
If you wonder where the name Intersig comes from, this really is quite simple and straightforward. The name had to express a vision for the future as well as respect for the past; result: Inter from international and Sig from Sigma.
The Jansegers family retains 50 percent of the Intersig shares, the other half goes to Roeland Van Maercke. The roots of Van Maercke, with its home base in Kluisbergen in the Flemish Ardennes, go way back to 1850 when the family business was still active as home builder. In 1960, Roeland Van Maercke started as entrepreneur of the fourth generation with the construction of apartments and shopping malls. As from 1970, he shifted the focus to industrial engineering. Intersig had a head start. In the first year, 1983, no less than 951 tonnes of lattice girders were produced.

Starting small

Intersig’s story has always been one of looking for new opportunities, a dynamic approach for a company under permanent development.
In 1988, five years after its incorporation, the company invests in its first draw-benches in view of manufacturing, out of rod wire, cold-drawn, A-quality coils. The rod wire is purchased in Wales. Initially, the sales market is predominantly local. The total annual production amounted at the time to 3133 tonnes. In this period, the concrete steel market is developing rapidly. Companies switch more and more to automated cutting and bending machines so as to avoid having to drag loose bars.

In search of added value

The nineteen nineties continue to be years of expansion. Intersig does well. As today, the company is highly export-oriented. Over 65% of its production is exported. Since the early nineteen nineties, coils and bars are cut to size and exported to France and Germany.
The company also continues to invest in the construction of new machines: lattice girder machines, unwinding reels, wire reel clamps… At the end of 1992, the sales volume amounts to ca. 14,000 tonnes. The daily management is entrusted to Rudy and Dirk Jansegers, sons of Alfons Jansegers. In this period, the first professional salesperson is engaged.
Intersig continues to search zealously for products with a higher added value. The development of its own wall reinforcement (Sigmafor) is the first step. In 1995, commodity products such as concrete reinforcing bars and concrete reinforcement mesh are added to the offer.
As such, Intersig becomes both manufacturer of and trader in concrete reinforcing steel, bringing all products in one cargo to customers.

The factory becomes too small

The factory in Wieze, measuring 17.8 acres, was bursting at its seams. In 1995, Roeland Van Maercke acquires 24.30 acres of land in Dendermonde, at Hoogveld, and erects a brand new building of 60,000m² on it.
1996 marks the decease of Alfons Jansegers, the visionary man who thirty years earlier had set up the company. Together with Roeland Van Maercke, his sons continue their father’s work with firm determination.
In 1998, they decide to manufacture their own mesh in Dendermonde.
The years 2000 start well for Intersig, manufacturing KOMO-certified (4) A-spacers and introducing longer lengths, all resulting in less on-site labour. In 2003, CKT is developed as road girder (construction girder) and is applied, among others, for the Antwerp ring road, the E17, the E411 and the E40. In that same year, the Dendermonde project is rounded so that, after 20 years, Intersig moves yet another time into new offices.

International cooperation results in expansion

Both Intersig in Belgium and Van Merksteijn in the Netherlands manufacture the whole product range, with little volume-driven optimisation in either company as a result. In 2004, both companies decide to start working together.  Van Merksteijn acquires 50% of the shares, the other 50% remains in the hands of Roeland Van Maercke. This immediately creates economies of scale when purchasing raw materials and leads to the optimisation of both plants by allocating the production of mats to Almelo and the production of girders and spacers to Dendermonde.
In 2006, the new flat Sigmafor is developed and Intersig becomes a Bekaert licensee. Hardly one year later, Dibat-France is bought, a company from Metz that is specialised in the production of small concrete bars for the French market.
In 2010, a new and lighter type of triangular spacer is developed to continue expanding the sales market.
In 2011, the company starts with the construction of the Intersig France plant in Saint-Pourçain. This will be a stand-alone production unit for mats and coils for the French market.
In 2012, a new ZZ snake spacer without protruding wires is developed on a high-tech production line. This snake spacer is easier to move laterally and thus safer.  Thanks to the more compact packaging, trucks can be optimally loaded. These spacers are delivered across Europe, from Latvia to Italy. Besides, these girders are the first patented Intersig product and will launch new investments in even more products with added value.
In 2015, Intersig develops a new wire: the cold-drawn indented wire in B-quality. This offers the benefit that it can be perfectly processed by customers and that these customers become less dependent of wire from rolling mills. As such, they can afford to keep only one quality in stock.

The future

Together with Van Merksteijn, Intersig forms one strong group, with three production plants in Belgium, the Netherlands and France and fifteen other establishments spread across Europe.
Intersig’s vision and long-term objectives are clear:

  • Professionalism in all business domains, up to the smallest detail.
  • Building and actively maintaining good relationships with customers, which Intersig rather sees as partners, without opportunism and with transparency and open communication, having as only purpose creating a win-win relationship for all stakeholders.
  • Permanent investments in continuous innovation so that Intersig can continue to play its part day after day, week after week, month after month.
  • Efficiency in everything Intersig does.
  • Ambitious, yet controlled long-term growth, with respect for employees and environment.

For Intersig, the future looks solid as steel.

Footnotes

  1. Lattice girders are three-dimensional truss girders made of concrete reinforcing steel. These truss girders, in turn, are girders or supporting beams composed of truss parts so as to increase the rigidity of the construction.  And a truss is a construction with beams and bars forming a system of rectangles or triangles and connected to one immovable whole.
  2. A reinforcement mesh is a grid of steel wire, which is placed in a foundation as concrete reinforcement.
  3. A spacer is a kind of small block ensuring that the reinforcement in a concrete construction is given the correct concrete cover by installing the reinforcement at a defined distance to the formwork. Spacers can also have the shape of a bar, strip or ring.
  4. KOMO is a collective certification mark used within the Dutch construction industry, both for building factories, in hydraulic and civil engineering, for earth structures and in road construction works.

 

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