Think of a CEO and, often, the first thought that springs to mind is that of an authoritative leader. But not all of those in this position would see themselves in such a way. Bart Devos, CEO of AR Metallizing, certainly doesn’t, as he is at pains to point out.
“I’m passionate about driving excellence within companies, and the important word here is ‘within’,” he explains. “I want to be a part of a company’s success, not viewed by my team as the sole driver behind what are in truth, our employees’ achievements.”
For Bart, being the leader is not simply about making decisions for the business to follow, nor is it taking all the credit for its success. Instead, Bart is a leader who wants everyone inside and outside the company to know that it’s not about him.
“I believe it is empowering for employees to be drivers of change, rather than feel they are being pulled along behind it,” he says. AR Metallizing has been through a number of changes since the company began as Alupa in the 1970s, a spin-off of Belgian printing house Illochroma.
I’ve built my career on motivating people, assisting them to embrace change.
Specialising initially in metallised labels, the company has expanded to create long-lasting products and give them an extra function. By adding a layer of metal to a given product, it is possible to produce high-quality premium package labelling products.
Bart, who joined AR Metallizing as CEO in 2013, has always looked to inspire people within whatever business he is working in. “I’ve built my career on motivating people, assisting them to embrace change and improving company performance through inclusivity,” he says.
This mission to inspire success is reflected in the excellent financial performance of AR Metallizing, which in turn led Japanese multinational Nissha Group to take over the business in August 2015.
Today, AR Metallizing is the world leader in metallised beverage labels. While labels continue to be one of the firm’s core offerings, the company’s other packaging and label segments are growing quickly.
The future looks bright for the business thanks to Bart’s out-of-the-box thinking. Today, within any given industry, sustainability plays an important part in its operation. For a company such as AR Metallizing, sustainability has the potential to be a massive disruptor, but don’t expect this to give Bart a negative outlook.
“It is a positive disruption, and I don’t expect this to change until packaging practices are, overall, more eco-friendly,” he says. The industry has to move forward to meet these challenges, and Bart knows that it is consumers who are driving this change more than anything else.
“We must move quickly to meet these demands as their buying power grows and dominates the market.” But this isn’t news for AR Metallizing, as Bart explains. “Conserving resources and manufacturing responsibly is ingrained in our core values, and is very much a legacy, rather than something we are building presently.”
Being a brand that is always pushing for innovation is one side of the business, but the ability to show how sustainable the company actually is, is just as important for Bart.
“When it comes to our environmental impact, we want to talk in terms of science and facts,” Bart says, before highlighting how AR Metallizing goes to great lengths to inform customers of the work involved in paper metallising.
“We’ve compiled extensive reports into our environmental impact – and not just from the perspective of physically metallising paper,” he explains.
“The analysis also considers the environmental impact of the creation of the paper we metallise. We make this information available to any of our customers or prospects who want to understand the tangible impact of our products and their creation.”
At its Belgian plant, wind turbines will be installed to supplement energy consumption, and in Brazil, solar panels will be installed to increase the use of sustainable electricity.
This is not just about satisfying consumer demand, Bart is quick to point out; AR Metallizing wants to take on the role and responsibility of a leader in sustainability.
Bart emphasises this with his parting words, “We see it as our duty to build a sustainable company that mitigates our environmental impact wherever possible.”
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