Interview: “We develop products that combine functionality with design”


25 percent growth per year: year after year, Probo, the Dutch large format specialist, manages what other companies often only dream of. Yet the Dutch company produces exclusively for resellers. So what makes Probo different – and how do “probots” and old jeans play a role? Bernd Zipper asked CEO René de Heij.

Read a slightly shortened version of the podcast interview here or listen to the conversation in full and in German on ZIPPERS INSIGHTS or on Spotify.

Bernd Zipper: It’s hard to believe I’m in North Holland, in Dokkum. Not only because it’s such a beautiful town, but also because there is an incredibly good guy doing his “mischief” here, which is René de Heij, CEO of the company Probo. If you hang around at trade fairs from time to time, especially in the large format sector, you’ve been seen around quite a bit. What exactly is Probo?

René de Heij: Probo is aimed at resellers. We produce in digital printing, every day on a good 300 different materials. We supply large-format products to business customers.

Bernd Zipper: Your focus is on resellers. Why?

René de Heij: I think because they understand us and we understand them. They do sales and marketing. We do production and fulfilment. That’s our DNA. And our customers sell to their end customers. You see in B2B that there’s still a lot of face-to-face business. And that’s difficult for an online business to do.

Bernd Zipper: That means you connect normal online or other printers to your system?

René de Heij: We are an online print shop ourselves, but only for resellers. That’s also what makes Probo special. There are now a lot of service providers. But they often work for consumers, for businesses and also for resellers. And then there’s online sales. Working with all of them, that was perfectly possible eight years ago, but now it’s more difficult.

Bernd Zipper: You’ve been on the road with your own online store since 2012, right?

René de Heij: Yes, that’s right.

Bernd Zipper: And why has it changed so much in the last eight years?

René de Heij: In 2005/2006 there were the first online companies. That was when you could still make a big difference in price. That has changed in the last few years. Eight years ago, you could easily give a reseller a 20 percent discount. So they could stand out to the end customer and still make their own profit. But now it’s different, because a lot of online companies only had one pricing strategy, a price as low as possible. With that, I can also grow at a double-digit rate. That was equally important. But of course, you can’t keep prices low permanently and believe that your producers will always make everything a little bit cheaper. In recent years, that has no longer been possible. You’ve seen that a lot of producers who worked for the online print shops have had a hard time. They’re no longer innovative either, because they simply don’t make enough profit. That has really changed. 20 percent, that’s no longer possible, and yes, of course that changes business.

You can’t just make products; you have to be innovative. You have to make a difference for the end customer and not just offer 15 products that sell well. If you really only sell online, then of course it’s often the case that 15 or 20 products account for 85 percent of sales. It’s true that they say you can sell everything online. But in the end, it’s often only 20 products.

Bernd Zipper: Your customers are not only other printers, but also, for example, interior designers or the like, who then in turn sell to their end customers…

René de Heij: Yes, of course this also includes printers. But we also serve advertising technicians, agencies, or even smaller web stores that are connected for example via API. And you can see that in the last few years, certainly also through Corona, a lot has happened in terms of furnishings and textiles.

Bernd Zipper: Let’s come back to the topic of interior in a moment. I was with you three years ago. Meanwhile, there are robots driving around to bring the material from A to B, almost like a little train pulling a wagon. In total, you have an area of 27,000 square meters, or what was it?

René de Heij: 37,000 square meters.

Bernd Zipper: And you have 400 employees here in Dokkum and almost 400 part-time employees?

René de Heij: Yes.

Bernd Zipper: That’s gigantic for such a small town. How many inhabitants does Dokkum have? 12,000 or something like that?

René de Heij: Yes, 12,000 or 14,000.

Bernd Zipper: You have industrialized large format in such a way that hardly anyone walks around manually with anything anymore; instead, you use conveyor belts. You have optimized transport routes, optimized material routes. The halls are divided into different areas, one for textile printing, one for plate printing. You also do your own milling and sewing. What was the biggest thing you ever did for a banner or something like that?

René de Heij: Oh, I think it was 300 by 50 meters.

Bernd Zipper: That means you could also have covered the Reichstag in Berlin…

René de Heij: Yes, we can do that.

Bernd Zipper: When you come into the hall where these large covers are sewn, there is also a large table. A colleague crawled over it to straighten it accordingly. It looks funny, I must say. But it’s highly interesting how extensively you’ve automated it. But it all starts with the software, of course, doesn’t it?

René de Heij: Yes, we develop our own software. That has a lot of advantages. We’ve been working on a lot of things over the last few years: Make the store simpler, develop an API. What we develop and use on, we can also make available in the API, so that our customers can also work with it in their own web shops. Therefore, it’s not just that we say we have an API and our products can be sold. We think that the service is also increasingly something that our customers can use. And I think that’s what makes the difference. We really need to strengthen our customers’ business. If we do that, it’s good for the customers and good for us. It’s as simple as that. We need to help our customers make a profit. Because when they succeed and innovate, together we make a difference. And this also means that we don’t develop anything that we just sell.

Bernd Zipper: I don’t quite understand that. What do you mean by that?

René de Heij: If it doesn’t help our customers and improve their performance, then we’re not doing the right thing. Because our customers are talking to end customers. That’s the difficult thing about Probo. Advertising technicians, agencies, they’re all people who talk to end customers. I think that’s a strength. During Covid, you saw when you work with companies, they always make a deal. Even if it’s difficult, then they start doing new things.

Bernd Zipper: Yes, they have to do new things.

René de Heij: And we try to offer as many alternatives as possible.

Bernd Zipper: In other words, to provide new ideas as well. What I find interesting is the product range you have. On the tour yesterday, a beanbag “drove” past me, and then various displays. It was a bit like “Am laufenden Band” with Rudi Carrell. And: You go from hall to hall to hall and every time you see new large-format machines in front of you. I think you’re the biggest Durst user north of the Alps, aren’t you?

René de Heij: Durst has to answer that, but it can be. It has advantages because we have people here permanently. If there are problems, they can be solved really quickly. We have to, because we have a lot of orders that have to be delivered to the customer within one, two, three days.

Bernd Zipper: You don’t just print on paper or awnings, but also on boards, insulating materials, and you are even active in the textile sector. This means that, in theory, I can also print decors with you and then sew something with the fabric afterwards.

René de Heij: Yes.

Bernd Zipper: How many materials do you process every day?

René de Heij: There are almost 300 different materials. But the important thing is, the production always starts with a run of one. The difficult part is that there are so many different materials and then there is still a run of one – you have to be highly automated. And you have to have automated packaging, otherwise you can’t make a profit.

Bernd Zipper: One thing is production. The next is the logistics behind it. And I’m not just talking about someone coming and picking up the products and taking them to the customer. It starts with the packaging. This cushion that drove past me went into a machine, and in no time at all the cardboard box was around it. Wham, it was out the back. That works great with a cushion, of course. But how does it work with a panel, three by two meters? And lo and behold, you have solutions for that, too. You also have individual packaging that is assembled by a machine. When it comes to robotic packaging, you’re way ahead, I must say.

René de Heij: There will be more and more packaging in the coming years. If you do your own logistics, then sometimes you can do without. But of course, if you use DHL or the other service providers, then you have to pack. We also do our own logistics. Packaging is important, of course, but when you talk about logistics, it’s also about what do you sell and when? And when do I get it to the customer? Because if you have a print run, then you have to be efficient in logistics.

Bernd Zipper: You have found a way to work really effectively and be close to the customer. You have rediscovered the good old delivery service.

René de Heij: Yes, we have. And I think in a year and a half, two years, we will also say in the store, for example, “okay, we’ll be in Bamberg on Tuesday.” Then, of course, it’s important to deliver as much as possible in this region. If you look at the issue of sustainability, it’s about making logistics simpler and more efficient. Of course, that’s possible if you do it yourself. It’s not just about delivering to a customer. It’s also about considering whether we’re printing efficiently or doing logistics efficiently. And that’s becoming more important. We’re really starting to develop logistics-to-shop.

Bernd Zipper: Okay. But you won’t see a car with Probo on it appearing in front of the customer, will you?

René de Heij: No.

Bernd Zipper: You have founded your own company. What is its name?

René de Heij: ONB. And yes, there is no talk about Probo. Our customers get many orders themselves, but we also deliver more and more to our customers’ customers. And then, of course, it should be completely white label. That also means, for example, that track and trace and all the things you know from other logistics service providers are completely white label or have our customers’ logo on them.

Bernd Zipper: It used to be that the print shop that printed also delivered. Very much in the past. Today, we also have to talk about packaging. You can imagine that if you have a plate, two by three meters, you need at least six square meters of material to pack it.

René de Heij: Yes.

Bernd Zipper: And that’s where I think the approach with the delivery service is clever, because you have big folders that can be reused. That means the product is unpacked and placed with the customer and there is no packaging waste.

René de Heij: Yes. We can use it several times. In the last few years, we have strengthened the topic of packaging, because there were a lot of problems with it. If you don’t have your own logistics, you have to. But if we do have our own logistics, do we have to pack at all? That can be changed. In the Netherlands and Belgium, we are now in a position where we take about 70 percent of the orders to the customers ourselves. In Germany, at the end of the year we’ll start with the first depot in North Rhine-Westphalia, and we’ll also do that ourselves. After all, with the large panels, for example, things happen very quickly. That’s annoying for our customers. Since even if you make it new, there’s trouble.

Bernd Zipper: Yes, of course, and the time delay.

René de Heij: Of course.

Bernd Zipper: You are already something of a top dog in BeNeLux when it comes to large format. How is your clientele divided up? Which percentage comes from Germany, how much from the Netherlands, Belgium?

René de Heij: We only started in Germany two years ago. We are still growing in the Netherlands and Belgium by about 25 to 30 percent.

Bernd Zipper: Per year?

René de Heij: Yes. During Corona it was a little bit less, it was difficult, and a lot has changed. I think we made 60, 70 percent different products in 2020 than we would have otherwise. Of course, it was good that that was possible, but at the same time it’s difficult for the production company to change something so fast. Now we’re back to the normal products that we made before Covid. That’s easier, but 25, 30 percent, that’s also such a growth that you say, okay we have to do that as well.

Bernd Zipper: Let’s put it this way: others dream of it.

René de Heij: Yes, you know. But when you really grow like that, it’s not a dream every day either. There are also difficult days.

Bernd Zipper: I can well imagine that. After all, we are here in Dokkum. Dokkum is not Amsterdam, and you have to consider where you can get the people.

René de Heij: Yes. I must say that getting people is actually still going well. I think we have hired almost 80 people in the last four months. The difficult thing is rather that there are no people who say, “now I’m going to be a digital print operator.” Because people have no idea what that is. That makes it difficult. A lot of people who start here, discover themselves and realize what they like to do. And a lot of them want to do that for the next few years.

Bernd Zipper: You guys are certainly doing something. You have a fancy canteen, also an area where you can sit outside. In the various halls there are social rooms for the colleagues, so that they can also withdraw from time to time. And there’s music in every hall. There’s something familiar about it, even though the company is large. Is that something you consciously emphasize?

René de Heij: Yes, that is very important. Finding people is perhaps difficult. But keeping people, that is and will be increasingly difficult in the coming years. We have an average age of 29 here, and you see that young people who are 25, for example, do something for one or two years – but then they get bored. Then they want to do something else. You really have to think differently when it comes to the workplace, working hours. That’s going to be a big issue for a lot of companies in the next few years. We’re already on it because we’re growing continuously, and we have a lot of young people in the team. We’ve seen in the last two years what changes there are. I’m 48 now, for me it’s sometimes annoying, because of course I want to have people who have been here for three, four, five, ten years. But the young people, sometimes they just want to do something else. So, we at Probo have to think about what we can do together in the next five years. You really have to work together so that there can be new things for the employees. If we don’t do that, then especially the young employees will leave again.

Bernd Zipper: How did you manage during Corona? Did you have to do short-time work?

René de Heij: We kept almost all of our people. There was work in production, and as far as office work is concerned, many worked from home. But at least in the Netherlands we worked through the night, so that was an advantage. During Corona, of course, it was quieter for us as well. Normally we have about 1,500/2,000 people a year visiting us. Naturally, that was no longer possible. That’s why we optimized a lot internally. The changes in the last two years have been big.

Bernd Zipper: How is it in the administrative area? Can people choose whether they do home office or whether they are here on site?

René de Heij: Of course, there are options to work at home. But many young employees also wanted to work on site at Probo. Because working alone at home is hardly fun either. And Probo is more than just a workplace. It’s also about socializing and meeting each other. We’ve noticed that many people need that.

Bernd Zipper: When I walk through companies, people look at the floor or rush past you. And here: People are talking to each other. You almost have the feeling that everything is going on. And yet everyone is working.

René de Heij: Yes.

Bernd Zipper: What I also like is that I see products from you everywhere. Not just a picture in a frame, but it always has to do with art. Behind you, for example, a motif that looks like a Japanese tapestry. That was developed for you by a designer, right?

René de Heij: Yes.

Bernd Zipper: That means you have motifs that you in turn make available to resellers?

René de Heij: Yes. We have “Motiflow.” There are around 25,000 different motifs in “Motiflow”. Designers can develop motifs and place them there. Every time a customer uses the design for a product, the designer gets an amount. Because when it comes to a production run of one, you don’t always make your own design. You don’t have time for that, it costs too much. So, we organize it differently. “Motiflow” is also a good solution for interior and textile customers.

Also, it’s important to us that people are proud of what we do. Our customers are busy with deadlines, with complaints. But we try to convey to them that you can be proud. And we also have to showcase that. That’s why we will also show in our building what is possible with our materials. We will also start inviting our customers here again in October and inspire them with the many new possibilities. Because with 300 different materials, an incredible number of products are possible.

Bernd Zipper: 300 materials in large format print are an infinite number. I do hear one or two offset printers thinking, “I have 20,000 papers”. But there is a big difference because we start from completely different properties. One is insulating, the other is flexible. One material is thicker, the other thinner. Plexiglas, for example, requires enormous skill. But it also opens up a new world, right down to furniture, which is feasible.

René de Heij: Yes, it really is a world without borders. We talk a lot about paper. But every month, every year, there are new techniques for new materials that allow us to bring functionality and design together. It’s important in our industry to ask ourselves what’s possible and how we can make a difference for our customers so they can strengthen their own brand. There are an incredible number of possibilities.

Bernd Zipper: Three years ago, I already saw something on your site that excited me. It was a sound-absorbing picture. You have a machine that compresses the material – I think it’s recycled jeans – and coats it so it can be printed on all over again. Then that’s put into an aluminium frame. There’s the simple version, which is three millimetres deep, and then there’s another one, which is six millimetres deep with an additional soundproofing layer in between. Of course, you could say that no one needs acoustic pictures. But does it work?

René de Heij: Yes, it works well. Architects are increasingly using hard materials, which makes it louder in the rooms. That means you have to counteract it inside. Traditional acoustic operations, however, are expensive and often complicated. But now we have products that are less expensive – that gives our customers a lot of new options. Of course, there are suppliers who have been in the acoustics business for years. But often they only talk about white, black and grey and not about design. But that’s exactly what we can do.

Bernd Zipper: But you’re not only innovative in this area – you also have a wallpaper with fleece behind it that can compensate for wall unevenness. Right?

René de Heij: Yes, we worked with a company that renovates a lot of apartments. When they have to level walls, for example, levelling and drying takes a lot of time. So, we teamed up. If you don’t have to level the wall in the traditional way, you can save a lot of time. And so, we keep developing new products that bring functionality and design together.

Bernd Zipper: You don’t just talk about wanting to do something – you are really innovative. You think about how you can implement something with the materials, the machines that you have. Nice example: You showed me a painting that also produces heat.

René de Heij: Yes, but that’s not live yet. We will present that officially in the next few months. Against the backdrop of the gas and energy crisis, the question arises whether you always have to heat an entire apartment or just the four or five square meters you spend time in. And that’s where we have developed some solutions in terms of flooring and wallpaper, which brings together a new functionality with design. In addition, it’s also important for our business customers that we develop innovations that allow them to have new narratives towards their customers.

Not every reseller will sell the products the same way. But there’s always a new narrative. And that’s marketing that our customers can do with our innovations. That’s quite important. About six years ago at Probo, we defined three things that were important to us: More logistics and fulfilment, connectivity and product innovation.

Bernd Zipper: And the topic of sustainability is not just something you pin to your door, but you also think about recycling printed materials. What is the name of this concept for you?

René de Heij: Sign again. We make beautiful things together with our customers. But it’s also a threat to our industry if end customers only use their products for one, two or maybe ten days and then the product goes to waste and is incinerated. In a few years, the end customer will no longer accept that.

Bernd Zipper: So, for you, end customers are basically brand owners who are served by a reseller?

René de Heij: Yes, that’s right. For example, a festival where you use the products for maybe ten days and then they get thrown away. What we do now is: we have our own logistics, and we can take the stuff back. We started with products that are short-lived, like banners and textiles. If we collect those again, then we can make new panels out of them that we can print on again and recycle later. We have patented that. For the panels, for example, we use PVC and PVC-free and polyester materials. A lot of people talk about how everything should be PVC-free. But PVC is not the problem. PVC or PVC-free – both are burned. The problem is that we burn everything.

But we say whether it’s PVC-free or PVC, if we can make new products out of the materials and recycle them, then we don’t have to burn anything.

Bernd Zipper: How do I imagine that? You take the material, you shred it, you make a new panel out of it? When the plate is finished, is it re-coated? Or how do you proceed?

René de Heij: The plate will be printed again – and hopefully it will be returned afterwards. That will change a lot. Actually, we’ve just started, we’ll get the first professional machine at the end of August. Then we will be able to make bigger plates. We can already see that we will have to make the next investments, because there is a lot of demand.

What is also important: Subscription-based business models are already successful in other industries. And that, I think, will also happen in our industry.

Bernd Zipper: So that means the customer goes to a reseller and subscribes to their printed signage for the next few years and the reseller then basically recycles the material through you and can of course save a lot of material costs as a result?

René de Heij: Yes, I think in four or five years we will sell 25 to 40 percent of our materials not just once, because it can be recycled. That not only brings new opportunities in terms of sustainability. It also provides a good opportunity to develop new business models. Because if we agree with a retail store, for example, that we will also pick up the products again every month and recycle them later, then you really make a profit.

Bernd Zipper: And we’re not talking, to make that clear again, about material that can be easily damaged, that is already very, very resistant and stable.

René de Heij: Yes. I think it’s important to think about what waste means. Because for us, waste is a way to develop new products. And we are learning and have learned a lot in the last two years. A lot of manufacturers are happy to have a recycling company pick up the waste and maybe they pay a little bit for it. You can really make a profit with waste because there are more and more ways to reuse waste in new products.

Bernd Zipper: So, you explicitly mean wastepaper. Let’s not misunderstand each other. Are you talking about waste from production?

René de Heij: Yes. It’s not just about being happy that the waste is gone. No, you should think about what new things can come out of it.

Bernd Zipper: It’s a consistent idea: A) the delivery service, where you deliver neutral products as a drop shipper. Then a possible deposit system with the recycled materials or even a subscription system.

René de Heij: Yes.

Bernd Zipper: Plus, the new ideas of what you can do with it. For example, these insulating or acoustic pictures, which are recycled from old jeans. In other words, we are consistently thinking about sustainability. Now Probo is a huge company. How are the energy costs with you and what does that do to you when you think about what’s coming up now?

René de Heij: Well, we have 5,500 solar panels here, so that helps a bit. We generate about 70 percent of what we consume ourselves with that. That fluctuates, of course, but you can see that something has to be done, because it’s not getting any cheaper. That’s why it’s certainly an issue.

Bernd Zipper: We’re talking about the company, but we’re also talking a little bit about you. You were first at Smurfit Kappa, where you were responsible for the whole issue of packaging cartons. Then you were at an offset printing company, Ten Brink. There you worked in the books sector. Then you worked for a classic online print shop. In this case, Drukwerkdeal. You were General Manager there, right? And then you came here to Probo in 2016. Right?

René de Heij: Yes, that’s right. But in 2015.

Bernd Zipper: Was it a big step for you to go from all the mass production topics into the topic of mass customization?

René de Heij: No, I think it’s an advantage. Because you understand, for example, how difficult it is to change something in traditional companies. You can’t compare that with online companies, or with improving a website and then doing volume. The important thing is, what is the DNA? Drukwerkdeal was really a marketing company that started with a website.

Probo, on the other hand, is a production company. We understand the materials. We understand what we can do with the materials and what our customers can do with them. So, with Probo, it’s important to understand: We are producers. A lot of online printing companies started with a website. Materials and producing, that played a different role for them. I also did books and magazines before; they were more traditional companies. But of course, you saw that the print runs were getting smaller. It was always about price in the end. But I liked to develop new things, because if it’s all about price every day, I can’t stand out in the long run. You can see that in the Netherlands, too: there are really only one, two, three big companies that produce books and magazines. Online, a lot has changed. I think it’s an advantage to understand the difference, but you can’t compare it. You can’t make a blanket statement about why online businesses are more successful. There’s an average age there of 25 to 30. Yes, they’re new businesses, but they’re getting older, too. You can already see now that the larger online companies are also already having a harder time changing and driving innovation. When you have a business, I think you always have to create a lot of opportunities. Because the world is changing faster and faster.

Bernd Zipper: Now you are also co-owner of Probo. I think there are three of you, aren’t there?

René de Heij: Yes. Erwin Postma founded Probo. And together with Leon van der Meer, I run the company.

Bernd Zipper: But now you also have another hobby. You make beer, right? For three years now. You have your own brewery, which even gets awards, the Dokkum Brewery.

René de Heij: Yes, we also make some beer. There’s a team there and they work every day. We are really involved with Probo and with the brewery. We have an opinion, of course, and we want to innovate and make new beers here as well. And, of course, realize a little bit of growth. But this started completely differently. Leon had talked to a brewer, this was 2017, and asked him about his plans. He had made around 15,000 litres but didn’t have his own brewery. That was always the brewer’s wish, but he only had six months to live. And then Leon talked to Erwin and me, and we decided to realize it together with the brewer in the last months of his life. And a year after he passed away, we opened. That started completely without a business plan.

Bernd Zipper: You created the brewery virtually and showed it to the brewer before he died. That also shows a bit of the spirit you have here. It’s not just about making money. It’s also about the story and how you can do something good for each other.

René de Heij: Yes.

Bernd Zipper: If you look at the last two, three years, especially the Corona period. A lot of resellers, a lot of online stores ordered a lot of interior and decor products from you, for example canvas prints, posters, wallpaper. In the meantime, business has returned to normal. What will the mix be like in the future? What do you think?

René de Heij: We are currently seeing growth in all materials and products. It is important that we have different customer groups. There will also be more professional customers who do something with print. Using the example of acoustic applications, we can see that if we push an innovation like acoustic products, we will also gain new customers. They may then buy only one acoustic product from us and not all products. That’s why it’s even more important to always offer our customers what suits them.

Bernd Zipper: Do you keep statistics that you use to identify trend products so that you can invest in them specifically? Or how do you evaluate that?

René de Heij: No, not that. But when we generate new customers, then of course we ask them. That’s where we get new ideas. We talk a lot with our customers. We also ask them online. You can only do a successful business if you understand your customers.

Bernd Zipper: In terms of scale, do you want to talk about sales figures? Where are you guys there?

René de Heij: In 2022, we’re trying to realize 75 million in revenue, and last year we grew about 26 percent. We actually expect the same for 2022. 2023 is difficult to predict. Everything is changing fast, but we still expect double-digit growth.

Bernd Zipper: You are highly automated with the robots. Whereby robots is too much to say. They are more like intelligent cars that drive around. Similar to what we know from newspaper printing, you also use clever triggers so that the car knows where it has to go. You can imagine it like a railroad. With this in mind, what’s next for you in terms of innovation? What do you have in the pipeline?

René de Heij: We have the Probots. Because we need a good flow. For us, it is important that when things are ready, there is also suitable packaging for the new products. We have bought various machines to increase capacity, but we have also made a big investment in fulfillment. Here we are now automating even more. So, we can package products together, and it’s highly automated. You see more and more that there are companies that want to have 24 different products in the store, for example.

Bernd Zipper: The typical problem you have in a mixed store: There are five photo books ordered, three mugs, four pillows. Logically, they are ready at different times. But how do you store them? You’ve built something clever. This will be of interest to everyone in the Initiative Online Print, because this is a topic, we discuss time and again. You’ve come up with an intelligent solution that’s not the typical high-bay warehouse, but a clever combination. But we’ll talk about that another time, as a cliff-hanger, right?

René de Heij: Yes.

Bernd Zipper: René, you were at Drukwerkdeal. Drukwerkdeal was sold to Cimpress at that time. Now I can imagine that every day someone knocks on your door and wants to buy your place, because you are so successful. Or how is that?

René de Heij: We don’t talk about it with other people. Because it’s still so much fun and we say there are still so many possibilities that we don’t use. We can still improve so many things. For example, we started in logistics two and a half years ago and now we have 35 or 40 people working there who only drive to customers. That’s where we’re going to start reaping the benefits over the next few years. There are so many things where we have invested, where we have plans and are just starting now. We would like to do that ourselves.

Bernd Zipper: That means: Stay hungry?

René de Heij: Yes.

Bernd Zipper: How many Probo products do you have at home?

René de Heij: Oh, quite a few.

Bernd Zipper: And what is your favourite product?

René de Heij: I always find the acoustic products nice. That’s for home, I think, the nicest.

Bernd Zipper: René, it was a pleasure. Thank you for letting me visit you, thank you for a good time. I can only say one thing, Dokkum and Probo are worth a trip. And if René has time, make an appointment with him. Top guy. Thanks René.

René de Heij: With pleasure.

Bernd Zipper: And if you want to know a little bit more about Probo, you can check out, but also

Interview: "We develop products that combine functionality with design"
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Interview: "We develop products that combine functionality with design"
25 percent growth per year: year after year, Probo, the Dutch large format specialist, manages what other companies often only dream of. Yet the Dutch company produces exclusively for resellers. So what makes Probo different - and how do "probots" and old jeans play a role? Bernd Zipper asked CEO René de Heij.
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