The high regard that Eric and Remco Tournier hold for the wellbeing of their employees shows in the interior of – and the facilities in their company ICL, which manufactures gaskets and insulation for residential boilers. It was bound to happen that the brothers from Rotterdam would become entrepreneurs. Their great-grandfather had a pub in Crooswijk and their father owned a furnace construction company.
Only their grandfather was not an entrepreneur, but he was very active in sports for decades at end. Joop Tournier Senior remains a legendary name in the Rotterdam sports scene. He was one of the founders of the athletics course Nenijto, a trainer and the administrator of several sports fraternities.
Wherever fire is
Remco (53) is responsible for sales and innovation, Eric (51) for purchasing and finance.
They started ICL in 1987 in an old (and cold) shed in Moordrecht. Nowadays the company is located at the industrial complex Rotterdam Noordwest.
“We started working in the company of our father and at a certain point, both Eric and myself dedicated ourselves to the production of heat resistant gaskets and insulation. We still manufacture this type of products for boiler manufacturers. We also produce parts for manufacturers of gas powered stoves, air heaters and saunas. Wherever fire is. Our insulation withstands temperatures up to 1000°C (1832°F).”
Poor quality annoyed us
“Right now we export our products to 25 countries”, Eric explains. “We produce everything ourselves in our facility”. His brother adds: “We have our own R&D department and develop unique products, several of them patented. Take Kerasil for example. That brand name has more exposure world wide than ICL”.
“Last autumn we also started a lab in the Innovation Dock at the RDM, the old docks. This way our engineers have a quiet place for themselves to develop the unique machinery needed for production of our unique products.”
“We want to keep improving our processes and products. This is also how we started off. The quality of conventional refractory and gasket materials annoyed us, so we started developing better ones. Tailor made: a unique solution for each individual appliance and manufacturer.”
Approximately 70 people work at ICL. The turnover grows 10-15 percent annually. Remco: “I used to kid: someday we’ll have a hundred colleagues. Now I think it is actually going to happen. As long as we can find the right people.”
“Motivated people, whom are fun to work with”, Eric adds. “People with a technical background, of all levels: Technical University graduates for R&D positions, process operators for the factory. Nowadays factory workers require a whole new skill set to operate the technically advanced and computer controlled machinery.”
Employees at ICL lack nothing. `You must take good care of your people”, Eric says. “For example, we have a masseur whom offers chair massages at ICL on a weekly basis. And a physiotherapist. Colleagues can make use of these services during working hours. It is better to prevent injuries, rather than treat them afterwards. Your health remains the most importance thing that you own.”
Remco: “We also have air humidification in the factory, floor heating in the sweatshop, led lighting in the entire building and plants and trees everywhere. During breaks everyone can make use of our large, sheltered garden which we share with a colony of 20.000 bees.”
“In our garden we often spot a kingfisher. Right here at the edge of the city”, Eric tells. “We incorporated it in our logo. We deemed it a good fit, as we manufacture parts for the heating industry. While the kingfisher, despite its name, cannot withstand harsh winters very well (laughs). When there’s ice, he’d unable to catch any fish.”
Orginally published by Friends in Business, 22 January 2018. Read the original (Dutch) article here.