Dico: A rising force in BeneluxPublished 24/9, 2014
The diamond tooling business is not as easy and lucrative as it once was. There is tougher competition, lower prices lower and smaller profit margins, but, apparently, still appealing enough for new entrants. Belgium-based Dico is a rookie supplier of diamond consumables, carving out a niche for itself. Andrei Bushmarin reports.
Eric Gilbau had been travelling the world for almost twenty years before he decided to settle down in the small town of Zaventem, near Brussels. Having found home, he started looking for a business to invest his energy and savings. One night in April 2010, Gilbaus friend Ely Van der Borght suggested diamond tools, and the die was cast.
All good things begin in a garage
Starting a diamond tooling company in 2010 was a sure investment and a labour intensive enterprise. To keep the costs down at the start-up stage, Gilbau followed the tradition of turning his garage into an office and an assembling line. For Dico, whose name means Diamond Company, the first two years were a real struggle. Diamond tools had long ceased to be anything extraordinary and, to make it on the well-saturated European market, a supplier had to come up with something special. The solution arrived in the form of tools made by the patterned diamond technology Zenesis. Developed by Korea-based Ehwa Diamond some years ago, the Zenesis technology is being increasingly recognized worldwide by the virtue of the improved cutting and drilling performance it offers. Surprisingly, it was almost unheard of in Belgium at the time, and Gilbau seized his chance. He went to South Korea to meet with the EHWA management, and to learn about the technology. That meeting, which resulted in Dico being appointed the principle distributor of Zenesis tools for Benelux, proved to be a turning point for Gilbau and his company.
Change of fortune
Although it still took time and effort to convince Belgian customers of Zenesis benefits, cooperation between Dico and Ehwa signalled a change in Gilbaus fortunes. Little by little, the Zenesis brand was winning recognition, and 2013 proved to be a break through year for Dico. Having succeeded in Belgium, the company then ventured further afield into neighbouring Holland and France. Now Dico has a full stock of Zenesis products, segments, core bits, diamond blades and wires, ready to be shipped to any destination in Benelux. Currently Dicos reputation, and its customer base, is growing mainly through word of mouth, but the supplier does plan to start exhibiting at trade shows in the near future. A complete overhaul of the companys website is another immediate priority for Dico.
A family affair
Dico is a family enterprise, which is a usual occurrence in the diamond tooling industry. What is unusual about Dico, is that the company has been established and is being led by one of the two sons, Eric Gilbau, not by their father Jean-Pierre. Traditionally, it works the other way around where a member of the older generation sets up a business, with the offspring picking up the reigns when the founder retires. Gibaus brother Philip oversees production, while their father performs daily tasks like delivering orders to customers. However, in the small company of three, the chain of command as such does not exist and all have to multi-task.
This year saw a rapid growth in Dico sales, which allowed the company to move out of the garage and into a new 500m2 premises. Dico is growing in terms of staff, too a new sales director will soon join the company. Gilbau believes that winning the industrys trust is most important for Dico at this stage, and that is exactly what the company is trying to achieve.