Nedlin has been in constant development since its inception. The family business is focused on the long term. On the future. Directors STEF AND LUUK DE WIN explain why they think it is so important to continue to invest in their company. Why the technological innovations, which have been setting the company apart for years, increasingly respond to social and ecological matters. And how the customer benefits, financially as well.
For almost 70 years, Nedlin has been driven by progress. From the first automated systems to the current high-tech solutions: as a family business, Nedlin has always invested in the future. “It’s an important principle”, says Stef de Win. “For example, our new factory in Hoensbroek is one of the most energy-efficient laundry facilities in Europe. In Europe, only family businesses set up these kinds of factories. Because they need a long-term vision.”
For Nedlin, looking ahead goes without saying. Stef: “Everyone will reap the benefits. Our customers, employees, and of course our company.” Luuk de Win adds: “As a company, we continually try to invest and innovate. For instance, our Process Guard system safeguards the microbiological condition of the water, and we can track the laundry process of every individual garment. This way, we can work smarter, more sustainable, and more effective. Better each day. It means we keep our own costs under control. But the advantage is also passed on to the market. The customer will benefit, now and later.”
For example, our new factory in Hoensbroek is one of the most energy-efficient laundry facilities in Europe. In Europe, only family businesses set up these kinds of factories. Because they need a long-term vision.
More for less
Instead of paying more for a sustainable and innovative laundry facility, customers pay less. Innovation increases the quality and lowers the price. Thanks to sophisticated solutions. Luuk: “Our strength is investigating upfront how to improve. Our quickscan rapidly pinpoints the biggest challenges. We do not just look at our own services, but also take the customers’ logistics into consideration. From collecting the dirty laundry to the way our drivers deliver the clean laundry. Together we design a highly efficient model which provides the customer with the best quality – in laundry ánd in service - at an attractive price.”
By optimally organizing the logistics process, Nedlin customers can do with 5 to 15% less linen. The number of maneuvers is limited and the wear and tear is low. Customers always dispose over sufficient linen, but there are no unnecessary deliveries. This saves time – which means it saves money. Furthermore, Nedlin chooses high-quality products that last longer because of the diligent laundry process. This way, the comprehensive cost price (Total Cost of Ownership) stays low, while providing high quality service in return. Aside from that, the company helps customers to fulfil their CSR goals, without them even noticing.
However, it also means they sometimes have to decline a sale. Luuk: “Our principle is ‘lower costs, higher impact’. We are honest about what we can and cannot do. If the customer’s wishes lead to inefficient logistics, resulting in higher costs and a higher environmental burden, we will not grant his request. That too is part of a good customer relationship: we only promise what we can deliver. It also works the other way around: we deliver what we promise.”
Innovative and personal
Stef: “Digital innovations help us to safeguard our agreements with customers in our company processes. This is another advantage of the investments we make. By now, technology has advanced so far that we can also adjust the laundry process in big production units to fit the wishes of our customers.” For example, all garments and personal laundry is chipped. Every step of the process depends on the information in this chip. Furthermore, all this information, from the laundry program to the packaging at the end of the cycle, is available to the customer.
In the meantime, technological innovations result in reduced consumption of energy and water. Infrared sensors in the dryers measure when the laundry is sufficiently dry, and X-ray scanners recognize left objects in the pockets of garments like a doctor’s coat, which prevents unnecessary contaminations. The innovations not only have a positive impact on the environment, but also in ones pockets. One might wonder why not every laundry facility works the Nedlin way. “You need a certain scale to be able to make these kinds of investments”, says Stef. “Not everyone can do this.”
Smarter and more sustainable
Luuk: “We promised each other to continue improving. More frugal with water, more refined in our technology. More efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions with every innovation.” “Our new laundry facility in Hoensbroek is a hygienic, clean place with a high level of automation”, Stef adds. “Such a new building is a unique opportunity to really make a difference with your company. Moreover, you can take enormous steps towards staff and customers. Securing customer agreements becomes even easier. As for our staff, their work is more fun and interesting. Their role has changed completely. It has become less physical, more service-oriented.”
In Hoensbroek, Nedlin Industry now has a great foundation to build on. The brothers would like to take a similar step for Healthcare and Hospitality. “But we won’t just copy and paste”, Luuk emphasizes. “If we take this step, it will be even better, more sustainable, and more hygienic.” In order to achieve this, Nedlin chooses a comprehensive approach in every possible way. The company links buildings and processes. Energy flows are connected, and water runs from one location to another.
Has the continuous search for smarter and better also changed over the past few years? Luuk: “In recent years, sustainability really became part of our business, of the people who work here. It’s not just about processes and logistics anymore, but about much more. What products do you use? Which laundry detergent, which linen? How do you share the objective of minimizing your environmental impact with your staff? All new towels at the Healthcare division are 100% biological cotton, and we offer ÖKO-TEX linen to our Hospitality customers. And there are many more examples. That fact that we continue to improve our company, brings along a lot of positivity. It attracts talented people and provides a good dynamic.”
From price to impact
For customers, the impact on our environment becomes increasingly important. Even though the development is gradual, according to Luuk: “In the past, price was leading. Now customers are widening their view. They want to work in a socially responsible way, and recognize Nedlin as a strategic partner that will help them. Ambitions extend beyond the lowest price, impact also plays a role.”
Healthcare is ahead of the development. “The sector is instructed by the government to become more sustainable”, says Stef, “although the government still seems to be searching for the right way. It needs hospitals that already declared environmental impact to be one of their strategic focus points, institutions that can lead the way, to demonstrate what is possible.”
Luuk: “At Industry, we notice that big companies are aware of their responsibility. They understand that if they do not act, they will lose their right to exist. Companies that are very involved with the subject, believe it also includes responsible clothing. It still depends on how high sustainability is ranked on the agenda, but we see a clear movement in motion.”
Organizations need each other to take real steps, Stef and Luuk think. It takes two to tango. Nedlin can proof that it makes a big difference, compared to others in the sector. When new customers start working with the company, that first bit of impact is theirs for free. Sometimes, customers want to take an extra step and choose to invest as well. “In Healthcare and Industry, this is already happening. Customers want to build something together”, says Luuk. “In Hospitality customers are more careful, but we are expecting a similar development here.”
“You need pioneers to prove it’s possible”, he continues. “The challenge is to continue demonstrating that it is profitable. Once you are successful, others will follow. We see this movement in motion right now. More and more customers are choosing a laundry facility that scores well on quality, ánd service, ánd price, ánd CSR goals. New developments always take some time before they become commonplace. That moment is now dawning.”