May Member Spotlight: VDL Industries Gainesville

What is your business industry category or specialty?
VDL Industries Gainesville specializes in sheet metal manufacturing (80% stainless steel), TIG  and MIG welding, Robotic welding, CNC machining and assembly of modules. We supply multiple industries like modules for poultry equipment, complete bus chassis, cabinets for trains, scaffolds, design street furniture and parts and modules for conveyor belts. 
How do you describe your job to people outside the industry?
I feel that I don’t have a job but a privilege to manage a greenfield start-up which offers jobs to 150 Americans in 5 years.
Who are your main competitors and what differentiates you from the competition? What makes you unique? 
What makes us unique is that we can benefit from the knowledge from VDL Groep.  VDL Groep has over 100 operations throughout the world and there is almost no production technique that is not available to us.  If we have requests in new areas we can always benefit from the knowledge/expertise or even a technology transfer. That’s also our credo “strength through Co-operation”.
How was the business started?
In Europe we had customers where we manufactured components and assemblies for the American market.  Many of these customers requested VDL Groep to set-up local business as they needed us to support them to meet or exceed American Buy act.  This was the start to investigate the US production facility.
How many employees does the business have?  
We started with 3 expats in September 2018 and we currently have 48 employees on staff.  We also employe Sales/Engineering staff in multiple states; Milpitas (CA), Richmond (VA), and Troy (MI).  In total we employ over 80 people in the USA.
How did you end up in Atlanta?  
Initially our thoughts were to start in Richmond (VA) however, we were requested by a customer in the Poultry Equipment industry to supply them both in Europe and the USA.  Their offices in the USA are in Gainesville, GA and that is the reason we decided to start manufacturing in this area.  The Georgia Department of Economic Development did an awesome job to convince us to set-up in Georgia.  
Once we decided for Hall County, where we occupy a brand new state of the art 145.000 sq ft facility, we had the support of a great team at the Chamber of Commerce helping us with questions and assist us with the start-up of our business.  I would thank Nico Wijnberg (Georgia Department of Economic Development), commissioners Pat Wilson and Christopher Nunn and Tim Evans (VP Economic Development hall County) for their ongoing support.
What is your number one business goal over the next year?   
The number one business goal is to be profitable.  If we can achieve that within 2 years after establishment that would be a great achievement for our team.
What is the best advice you have received regarding doing business with Americans/Dutch? 
The most valuable asset in our company are our employees and their skillsets and knowledge.  I would advise every new startup business to set-up HR in the early stages as laws related to employment in the US requires a specialist.  Furthermore as the unemployment rates are very low you want to be able to attract professionals to work for you. Therefore we’ve set-up a good package of benefits while remaining competitive.
Any other personal information you would like to share, e.g. hobbies, special interests, family etc… 
I was managing director over 12 years for a VDL Groep plant in the Netherlands that specialized in Plastic Injection Molding. I lived in the City of Oss and I had a commute of an hour.  The traffic was really bad.  One day I came home and told my wife Mireille I’m going to work much closer to home. Of course she wanted to know where and I told her it will be Gainesville, GA but you can choose where you want to live within a 30 minute commute.
In Holland we had a horse farm.  Mireille is dressage rider and trainer so in 2018 we relocated to Alpharetta close to the equestrian area of Milton.  Our complete relocation consists of my wife, my teenage daughter Esmé, 2 dogs and a young Frisian horse plus a 40 foot container full of household items.
My family & I enjoy living in this community and look forward to a prosperous future.

Contact Details:

Rick van Haren  I Managing Director  
VDL Industries Gainesville LLC 
5459 Aloha Way, Flowery Branch, 30542 GA | USA
Tel: +1 470 778 5189
 Rick’s LinkedIn profile

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