Father and son Wim and Herman Ceulemans are the third and fourth generations of the family to work for the company that was founded by Frans Ceulemans in 1953 – when he bought his first truck to transport and deliver building materials. Since then, his son (and Wim’s father) Herman took over in the early 1970s, by which time Ceulemans Fr & Co was also engaged in earthmoving projects.
“I was always interested in working with excavators when I was at school in my early teens,” says Wim. “I sat in a UH081 for the first time when I was 15 and have worked for our family’s business ever since. Sadly, my father passed away at the age of 48 and so I was forced to learn the business at 23 years old.
“Thankfully, my grandfather was able to step in again and help me. I learnt so much from him and we managed to make it work. And as we look forward to celebrating our 70th anniversary next year, I am proud to have my son Herman and stepson Sacha (Geerts) as shareholders in the company.”
Based in Wim’s hometown of Berlaar, south-east of Antwerp, Ceulemans’ headquarters is located on a five-hectare site within an industrial area. The company had 100 employees working across four divisions: building materials, road construction, drainage and earthmoving.
Represented by the slogan, “Strong in quality work”, the contractor’s largest projects have included the construction of the A12 highway and high-speed railway link between Antwerp and Brecht. The main activity today is earthworks, specialising in the excavation of clay from a 30-hectare pit that it owns and operates at Schelle, south-west of Antwerp.
“We purchased ten hectares in 2001 and began working at the clay pit – and this is the most satisfying and successful project in our history,” explains Wim. “In 2008 we acquired another 20 adjoining hectares and the site’s still running to this day! The clay is of the highest quality and we currently sell it to contractors for reinforcing dikes as part of the Dutch Flood Protection Programme. So this project certainly has a future too.”