After 34 years of service, Michel De Clercq will be stepping down as Managing Director of Petersime at the end of 2018. He will pass the torch to Stef Vanneste, who will take over the lead of Petersime as new CEO.
The end of a challenging journey
We can say that Michel De Clercq has been a true one-company man. “After a short first experience in audit work, I joined Petersime in 1984 and covered different positions over the years: I started in Sales, moved to Finance and then became part of the General Management. This job was at the intersection of what I did before, so I could combine my commercial and financial skills. A perfect fit for me”, Michel points out. In fact, he will be leaving the company he has seen changing and growing throughout the years.
“Petersime has evolved a lot over the years. For instance, the market has expanded significantly: whereas we only served the Middle-East, Europe and Africa back then, we now have activities worldwide – except of Northern America. This also had its consequences. Petersime no longer operates from its headquarters in Olsene alone but has different sales and service subsidiaries worldwide to be closer to the customer. This is important more than ever, because the core of the economy has shifted from Western Europe and the Middle East to the emerging markets in Asia and Latin America.”
He continues: “But not only the market has changed. The customers Petersime serves nowadays are different too. Whereas we supplied mainly smaller family businesses before, we now also deal with ‘the big fishes’: giant investors and global players that are often vertically integrated and very powerful. Petersime is only a small business in comparison to them, but we have always managed to stand our ground. We don’t have a one-size-fits-all solution, but we know our customers and offer them a tailor-made solution.”
Looking back on his journey, he is very fond of Petersime. “I will always remember Petersime as a fascinating company that lives on the pulse of the global economy. The demand of investment goods is very volatile and sensitive for economic fluctuations; so, the volume of business is quite difficult to forecast. That’s why Petersime must be agile to be able to survive in this fluctuating market. It has been an honour to lead a company with so many challenges. It has always been very interesting to work in a company in such a challenging international envrironment.”
Michel’s leave also marks the end of his duo job with Paul Degraeve, who is now CEO of International Hatchery Holdings. “Sharing the job of Managing Director with Paul went very smoothly, because we had different but complementary skills. Paul’s expertise in research & development, production and general management and my commercial and financial background proved to be a solid combination that has always worked very well for both us and for Petersime.”
Stef Vanneste started on November 12th and will gradually take over the lead as Michel’s departure approaches. He will oversee the executive committee, namely Olav Boel (Chief Commercial Officer), Dirk Vermeersch (Chief Financial Officer), and Jan Elsmoortel (Chief Operations Officer). Although Stef Vanneste is a newcomer in the poultry industry, he has experience in various positions. After getting his master’s degree in Biomedical Science in 1998, he fulfilled various positions at companies such as KBC, Asia Brown Bovery and B. Braun. He obtained an MBA at the Vlerick Management School in 2007 and then joined Terumo Medical Products. Over the last 10 years, he grew from Product Manager to the position of Vice-President Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Now, he is ready to take on a new challenge as CEO of Petersime: “Being newly introduced into the poultry industry makes taking the lead of Petersime, a global leader in the development of incubators, hatchery equipment and turnkey hatcheries, an exciting opportunity. A great challenge that I am embracing with full confidence”, Stef Vanneste states.
“Being on the job, I already could see and feel the strong drive and engagement of Petersime’s employees. Such human capital is an asset that provided Petersime with a solid base and will generate an even stronger future”.