[Interview] Three questions for Chris Van Der Schueren, country manager benelux for Generix Group
Published on 10 February 2017
Chris Van der Schueren has 27 years of experience working in software solutions. After an education in commercial engineering at the University of Louvain, he worked for several US start-ups in Europe before working as a consultant specializing in new company launches in the European market. Generix Group came knocking on his door around the summer of 2015, where he eventually started in October of 2015, as they needed someone to help give their subsidiary a boost.
Can you provide us with more information on the background of the subsidiary?
Generix Group Benelux employs just under a dozen employees and there are plans to recruit more in the very near future.
At this stage, our clients are mainly EDI clients, with lots of large Belgian and French names in manufacturing, retail, and 3PL, such as Agristo, Bekaert, Chanel, l’Oréal, and retailers Delhaize and Colruyt.
Can you describe your position in the market, as well as the Benelux market in general?
With a customer base of over 300 clients, we can proudly state that we are one of the leading EDI-providers in Belgium. In a next step, we want to gain the same EDI market share in The Netherlands, and become a substantial solution provider in the supply chain market throughout the Benelux. So my first step with the subsidiary was to introduce a lead generation program bringing in interesting new opportunities.
The EDI market is pretty stable right now, as reflected by our respectable user base of over 300 clients, however it has become a commodity. In addition, heavy competition puts pressure on pricing. Hence our new business development effort which focuses strongly on establishing our supply chain solutions, and moving into the Dutch market.
Geographically, we are situated right on the Ghent – Antwerp – Rotterdam route, which can be seen as a big harbor, and one of the doors to Europe. So we do find that there are quite a few opportunities in the Supply Chain market. Thanks to the globalization and digitalization of the complete supply chain there are many areas that are still developing, creating in its turn opportunities for Generix Group.
One of the distinct features of the Benelux market is languages. In Belgium, we have three official languages (Dutch or Flemish, French and German) and everyone has to learn four languages at school (Flemish, French, English and German). In addition, due to the small size of our country, the cultural differences, and our business dependency on other countries, we are used to recognizing and accepting the existence of these cultural differences. This makes Belgians often used to bridging the gap between the Latin culture of France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, on the one hand, and the more German culture of The Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia. Sometimes quite an exciting challenge, and often not really understood by citizens of larger countries like the US, France and Germany.
The goal for Generix Group Benelux is to work on becoming autonomous in pre-sales, sales and project delivery. This in order to be able to cope more seamlessly with those linguistic and cultural differences naturally within the strategy and vision of the entire group, as we are a global provider of Collaborative Supply Chain Solutions in the cloud. As the total Generix Group offering is very broad and multidisciplinary, requiring from our consultants and sales multiple skill sets and experiences, this autonomy can only be built over time and through further expansion of the team, which is aligned with the planned growth.
What are your goals for 2017?
As mentioned before, I joined Generix with the explicit goal to revamp and boost the business within the region. Our main objective for the first trimester is to confirm the legitimacy of the subsidiary by closing on some great deals, basically proving that our sales and delivery approach is working for this subsidiary and region. At this stage we are really at the tipping point. Once we have done this, we plan on a controlled but accelerated expansion within the market. It is very important for us to expand our presence in the Northern European market via our Belgian subsidiary. My experience working with startups and accompanying businesses is that when companies restart their businesses, customer intimacy is very important throughout the revamping process. This way the customer tells you where to go, how to improve and where the challenges are.
The subsidiary is going to continue to develop, focusing on:
- Recruiting high level and professional pre-sales and business managers for The Netherlands
- Recruiting pro-actively but at a business rhythm in order to deliver the correct resources, supported by our experienced international team
- Acquiring some initial market share within the Benelux with our Supply Chain solution, part of the total product suite
- Acquiring initial market share in The Netherlands
I am convinced that if we continue along this path, within 3 to 5 years the size of the Benelux subsidiary should be at least doubled in terms of revenue and margin.