Group Machiels was founded in 1941 by Louis Machiels Sr as a Limburg construction company.
His son, Jef Machiels, transformed the business in the 1980s, turning it into a pioneer in environmental technology, specialising in waste management, energy and real estate, both in Belgium and in Chile.
The family-run Machiels company gradually positioned itself as an experienced and reliable industrial partner and was often asked by the government, both during and after the closure of the mining industry in Limburg, to help with the necessary regeneration of the region. The Machiels family stepped up with its legendary discretion.
Up to the end of the 1990s, Machiels mainly operated locally. Since then, the knowledge built up by Group Machiels has also been used on other continents – the start of ‘think global, act local’.
Today, Group Machiels is in the hands of the third generation. Louis Machiels Jr. – chairman of the Group since 2004 – immediately shifted the focus and resolutely opted for a business strategy geared towards sustainability, innovation and clear internationalisation.
The Machiels Building Solutions(MBS) business unit is a good example of this innovative vision. MBS is the largest Belgian industrial manufacturer of wooden construction components and offers architects, engineering offices, local authorities and project developers (B2B) in Benelux the ideal solution for renovating or constructing façades, offices, (holiday) homes and public buildings.
The introduction of the “Closing the Circle” concept in 2008 firmly rooted the principle of sustainability in the corporate philosophy. From now on, all projects in the Group’s various divisions would have to pass the test of sustainability and the focus would only be placed on those projects where the environment and business go hand in hand.
This ongoing commitment solidified Machiels’ reputation as a pioneer of sustainability and consolidated the company’s profile as a modern and innovative player in green energy generation, industrial and residential real estate, timber-frame construction and sustainable waste management.
In the latter of these fields, a consortium was founded (ELFM – enhanced landfill mining) with the Catholic University of Louvain and the VITO, among others, the objective of which is sustainable mining of existing landfill sites as part of an innovative concept of waste management; the guiding principles are to close the circle of materials and maximum energy recovery.
Driven by the strength of its social engagement, Group Machiels has also committed to playing a significant role in the regional government’s strategic development plans (Limburg Strategic Action Plan – following the closure of the Ford factories). This is the context within which Group Machiels is becoming one of the key companies involved in the revitalisation and repurposing of the former Ford site in Genk, which will be developed into a new industrial area geared towards e-commerce. With its investments in wind and solar farms, Group Machiels is also helping to shore up Limburg province’s climate-related ambitions to grow into a CO2-neutral region.
“Trust and co-operation” are key values for Machiels as a family firm. The stable family-run management structure, a flexible management team and the short decision-making processes provide a solid foundation on which the strategic direction of the business, known as “sustainability in business”, can be further developed. After all, for the family, it is not just the financial and economic returns that must be right; the environmental and social aspects also have a crucial position in the corporate policy.