Dutch Manufacturer Vadain Breathes New Life Into Australia's Textile Industry

11.09.2017 Tim Michael
Dutch Manufacturer Vadain Breathes New Life Into Australia's Textile Industry

In the past 40 years Vadain has grown from a small workroom servicing one store to an international player in the highly competitive window coverings market. The company specialises in mass customisation in window covering products and as a full service supplier is able to deliver high volumes of custom made window coverings in a short, pre-agreed time frame.

The privately-owned Dutch company has earned a global reputation for innovation and ground breaking technology in the market for window coverings. 

With a strong presence in Europe, the company has set its sights on new international markets.

Creating Jobs

Australia – a country with similar work standards to the Netherlands and an abundance of suppliers and skilled workers – was considered an ideal location to set up shop.

One of the directors of Vadain, Arjen Hoekman, paid several visits to Australia to get a better understanding of the market structure, labour and the availability of skilled people and the work ethics.

“We had been working closely with our major account in Australia and had noticed a movement in the window coverings industry towards manufacturing in Asia.” Mr Hoekman explains.

“We jointly identified the opportunity for an Australian made custom product with a short time to market, as the business conditions in Australia were similar to the market in Europe. With the experience we have collected over the past 40 years we were convinced we could set up a sustainable business in Australia.”

Therefore, in 2014 the company made the momentous decision to invest $1 million to establish a manufacturing facility in Logan City, south of Brisbane.

That investment has been crucial to the local economy, creating 40 new jobs which were much needed given the closure of a significant textile manufacturing company and giving jobseekers opportunities to find a similarly skilled role with Vadain. 

Why Logan City?

“After having done extensive market research and working closely with Austrade, Trade and Investment Queensland (TIQ) & Logan City Council we were able to build a sustainable business case which supported our decision to make a long term investment,” said Mr Hoekman.

“The availability of well skilled workers with good working ethics made the choice of Logan City perfect for our company.”

Logan City is benefiting from Vadain’s decision to source as much local product as possible, using fabric from Australian suppliers and engaging a Brisbane-based business to service and maintain machines in the facility.

Our people, Our success

The key to the company’s success has been its people.

“As an organization we have always valued our employees, many of whom have been with us for more than 25 years,” says Mr Hoekman.

“This level of appreciation and the social responsibility towards our people has been a major reason for our success. In the past 40 years the company has been both tempted and challenged by options for producing in countries with substantially lower wages than we faced in the Netherlands.

“However, the company believed in the existing production facility and was triggered to find innovative ways to be able to compete with these influences.”

His company is very pleased with the short term results in Australia and is looking confidently to expand the business – and its employees.

Share and learn

Vadain is working closely with several educational institutions in the region to assist students to gain a career in textiles.

“We have happily accepted the requests from local schools to show their students about working in the window covering industry.

“This has been a mutually beneficial situation for both the students, who experience a working environment in the manufacturing industry. The company gains from staying open to the fresh ideas of the students. It has even resulted in us hiring some of the students once they had finished their courses, which is wonderful.”

In recognition of its contribution to the local economy Vadain was nominated for an investment award at the Australian Export Awards last year.

“We are extremely proud to have been nominated for the Awards,” said Mr Hoekman. We never expected this, however we appreciate that our investment in Logan City has been noticed and appreciated.”

And while Vadain is currently focussed on delivering an Australian made product to the Australian market, it has already received requests from other countries in the Asia- Pacific region, including Singapore and Malaysia.

“We will be exploring these expansion opportunities over the next few years.

*This article was first published on pages 16-17 of Winter 2017 International Business Today Magazine.

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