In 2021, Laco Techniek celebrated its 75th anniversary!
1946 – Establishment of Laco Gereedschappen by H.J. Lafeber senior
Started just after the Second World War in his shed, with one turning lathe and ten guilders, behind his house on Burgemeester ter Laanstraat in Zaandam. This shed soon became too small and a second premise was found on the Zaansteeg. In early 1946, the current Laco Gereedschappen was founded by H.J. Lafeber with partner Sjors Larsen (nephew). Sjors Larsen soon wanted to go out into the great wide world and emigrated to Canada, but the name Laco had already gained so much recognition that it has continued to exist.
In the 75 years, specialization has always been a common thread throughout the company, and thus also in the start-up phase. The manufacture of optician heads used for grinding glasses was started. Soon the assignments were given more and more by larger organizations that greatly appreciated the craftsmanship at Laco. Also assignments from the Dutch Dock and Shipbuilding Company in Amsterdam-Noord, where he had worked until the start of his company.
1952 – Kees Lafeber (2nd generation)
Kees starts his career at Laco Gereedschappen at the age of 18 after he started his military service, but with a special exemption, he can join the family business on 1 September 1952. He takes over the commercial tasks together with his father. In the first years, Laco Gereedschappen underwent extreme growth and he joined the board in 1959.
1965 – relocation to Mauritsstraat
The building on the Stationsstraat in Koog aan de Zaan felt cramped due to lack of space. With the move to Mauritsstraat, Laco was back in Zaandam!
The clientele was expanded, which included organizations such as Stork Hengelo, Verolme, Shell but also Hoogovens (nowadays Tata), which is still a highly valued customer. Organizations from the oil and gas industry and shipbuilding quickly found their way to Zaandam. Special tools from Laco Gereedschappen found their way abroad even then and it was at that time that exports originated to all European countries, Japan, Pakistan, South Africa and the United States of America.
1971 – Zaandam company in Silver and celebrates 25th anniversary
The growth of the company continues steadily and the organization where 30 people work in the machine factory at that time has a filled order portfolio for two years.
In the seventies, a lot of equipment is being built for giant tankers that have a long construction time.
As Lafeber Senior typified then; “We have a great team of professionals. We have to because sometimes they come to us with problems that others cannot resolve”. In some areas, we have no competitor in the Netherlands.
Naturally, people also come knocking for less specialist work and then cooperation is sought with fellow companies. All generations find cooperation with fellow companies very important so that craftsmanship is combined in all areas and a beautiful product is created.
1973 – Vlakfrais (milling machine) 16 tons
On 17 September 1973, the milling machine will strengthen the machinery. The Maxima milling machine has a length of 8 m and a stroke length of 3 m by a width of 1,5 m. The investment of 200,000 guilders was unique for the Netherlands at that time. The machine is specially designed for surface grinding. The machine will be put into operation at the beginning of October and Cees Bleeker will be able to specialize. He operated the imposing machine for over 20 years until his retirement.
1978 – Start of Laco Trading Company
The commercial enterprise was created through a collaboration with the sale of used conventional metalworking machines. This trade was part of the organization until the early 2000s.
Soon after it was founded in 1978, Kees Lafeber was approached by manufacturer Ingersoll Rand. Laco Gereedschappen produced the special tools for Ingersoll Rand, which he regularly delivered to the Ingersoll Rand site in Ratingen (Germany).
Ingersoll Rand wanted a distributor for the Northern part of the Netherlands to sell Ingersoll Rand tools after they had done this themselves for a long time. With the vision that Kees Lafeber had that the metal industry was clearly changing, as the cheap wage countries were emerging, he took this step. Jan van Dijkman at the time was still working in the hardening plant of Laco Gereedschappen when he was sent as a representative for the promotion of the products of Ingersoll Rand.
We can now conclude that this was the right step and the small-scale commercial enterprise has grown into the large specialized company that Laco is today, with offices in Zaandam and Rotterdam. We also see here that the specializations still belong to the core tasks.
1989 – Construction of property on the Grote Tocht
Due to the rapid growth of a trading company, the building on Mauritsstraat became too small. The storage of the used metalworking machines required a lot of space, but the demand from customers for Ingersoll Rand tools available from stock also required more storage capacity. Laco built a new building in 1989 on the then empty industrial estate Westerspoor in Zaandam. The foundation stone was laid by Henk J. Lafeber (3rd generation) namesake of the founder.
Soon afterwards, contacts were made, through Aart Schoemaker from Laco, with Machinefabriek Wagner who wanted to have the Plarad brand represented in the Netherlands for manual torque wrenches. The range was soon expanded with hydraulic torque wrenches and nowadays pneumatic and battery-powered tools have been added to the range.
1992 -Laco enters the rental market
The economic downturn in the mid-nineties meant strong economic growth for Laco by renting out the equipment that was normally sold. Customers who needed equipment for a short period of time were, therefore, able to carry out the projects without having to purchase the equipment and maintain it.
Very soon after the start-up, the first major rental order consisted of the rental of 120 hydraulic cylinders for Mammoet in Saudi Arabia. Special projects at home and abroad are a great challenge for the specialists at Laco that they are happy to take on. The collaboration between customer, Laco specialists and supplier results in exceptionally beautiful projects.
1998 – Acquisition of Bodo Perslucht
Bodo Perslucht was a supplier of the Rotair brand compressors for a long time and had its own service department for repairing compressors. The contacts with Bodo Perslucht arose because, as a valued customer, it rented compressors from Laco. When the owner of Bodo Perslucht reached an age where he wanted to take a step back, he approached Henk Lafeber about a possible collaboration. This resulted in the takeover of the company in November 1998, whereby the employees of Bodo Perslucht moved from Amsterdam-Noord to Zaandam.
A new division for all compressed air-related matters was born, which was renamed Laco Air Solutions in 2015 for greater uniformity with the existing group of operating companies.
2005 – Establishment of Laco Rotterdam
Laco had been looking for opportunities to strengthen its position in the Dutch market for some time, especially in the area around Rotterdam. The Netherlands was divided into two areas for the Ingersoll Rand brand, namely Laco was a distributor for the Northern Netherlands and the Tools & Services division of Stork Gears in Rotterdam for the Southern Netherlands.
Given that both companies had a number of similar activities, combining them would lead to a stronger position in the Dutch market. Several Laco activities would also fit in well with Stork Tools & Services, but also vice versa there were product groups that could strengthen the position in the North.
Laco Rotterdam was founded in September 2005 and the activities were taken over from Stork Tools and with the move into the modern building on the Driemanssteeweg in Rotterdam as of 1 January 2006, a flourishing cooperation between “North and South” was started.
2009 Transfer to H.J. Lafeber junior
For a very long period, two generations have worked together in the company and together they have experienced unprecedented growth in the Netherlands and far beyond. In 2009 Kees Lafeber passed the baton to his son Henk Lafeber. It’s the end of an era that C.G. Lafeber looks back with pride. Henk and Ageeth Lafeber are the third generation, where Henk Lafeber focuses on the technical aspect of the company, Ageeth Lafeber focuses on financial and HRM matters. A real family business!
2014 New logo for Laco Group
Starting with a lathe in his shed, Lafeber Sr. has included the recognizable conventional lathe in its logo. Times change and conventional machines make way for sleek CNC machines so that the meaning of the logo is no longer recognizable to younger generations and the question was often asked what the meaning of the logo was. The logo had already undergone changes in color over the years, after which the color for all operating companies became green with black in the last two decades.
The new website was launched in 2014 and now was the time to consider whether the logo should also be tinkered with. The new logo had to have a characteristic that represented technology, because from the start in 1946 technology, but especially the specialism in technology has been the common thread running through the organization.
Various designs of logos have been reviewed, but the recognizable letters and color were required and had to be reflected in the new logo. Digitization also contributed to the design, after which the current logo was ultimately chosen.
2015 – Project Pioneering Spirit, largest construction vessel in the world
The largest construction vessel in the world will be a fact in 2016 and can start on its assignments. The Pioneering Spirit can lift and transport large platforms weighing up to 48,000 tons from their undercarriage in one go, instead of many smaller sections as was previously the case.
The ship will arrive in 2014 from South Korea, where it was built, to the Alexiahaven in Rotterdam for further completion. Laco is approached to supply 68 cylinders with a capacity of 1000 tons each for the topside lifting beams of the Pioneering Spirit. Together with Enerpac, Laco took up the challenge where the time frame was the biggest challenge because the cylinders were needed within 2.5 months.
2017 – Laco wins Zaanse Ondernemingsprijs
The Zaanse Ondernemersdag is a recurring annual event in Zaanstad where 10 companies are nominated every year. To be eligible for nomination, business management aspects such as sustainability, innovation, social involvement and continuity of the organization are considered, but leadership and HRM policy are also an important part of the selection.
In 2017, Laco was honored with the nomination and after the first selection, three beautiful Zaanse companies remained to compete for the 29th enterprise award and after several voting rounds, Laco could call itself the winner of the Zaanse Ondernemingsprijs 2017
The prize, a beautiful statue of Jitse Sikkema, has been given a prominent place in Laco’s reception area.
2017 Acquisition of Kiekens-DSH
Machine factory Kiekens in Landsmeer was founded in 1907, but it was not until 1960 that the first desuperheater was developed in collaboration with Shell and the Technical University, after which the product was soon sold worldwide. Kiekens stands for quality and innovation, which means that a warranty period of 30 years can be guaranteed.
Since the eighties, Laco Tools has been a production partner of Kiekens in Landsmeer for these desuperheater. After Kiekens was taken over in 1971 by Internatio-Müller N.V., later Imtech N.V., a reorganization followed in 1998 whereby the employees of the Desuperheater division moved in early 2000 to the Laco building on the Grote Tocht in Zaandam.
Given the close cooperation in the production of these desuperheater, this is a logical step, given that short communication lines are created between the engineering department of Kiekens and the production department of Laco Gereedschappen. A win-win situation.
At the end of 2017, Henk Lafeber was approached by the then owner of Kiekens, 360 ° KAS, to see if there is any interest in taking over the Zaanse division of the organization 360 ° KAS.
Laco had then been involved in the production process of Kiekens desuperheaters for almost four decades. He is convinced that Kiekens can position itself even better in the market as part of the Laco Group. But that it can also further develop and improve in its offer and services to its worldwide customer base.
2020 – Acquisition of Amero Compressors
Founded in 1937, where the company was initially concerned with the sale of paint and paint accessories for making advertising signs in and around Amsterdam, the development of spraying technology based on compressed air was developed in the sixties.
In order to respond to the market, Amero also started selling compressors under the name Amero Spray. In 1968, the company was split into two divisions, after which Amero Compressoren moved to Badhoevedorp.
After more than 80 years of independence and after an earlier takeover in 2000 by Ketting Beheer, the activities of Amero Compressoren were taken over by Laco Air Solutions in November 2020.
Laco Air Solutions has been experiencing exceptional growth since 2015 and the addition of Amero’s activities has created an even better market position. As a result, it will be possible to respond even better and faster to changing market situations and the service level and product portfolio will be considerably broadened. A nice addition is the manufacture of custom-made air and vacuum chambers that Amero brings.
2021 Laco celebrates its 75th anniversary!
When my grandfather started working in the shed behind his house at the time, he could not have imagined that 75 years later a group of companies emerged that represent technology, in the broadest sense of the word, in a specialist way.
As the third generation of a family business and when it also exists for another 75 years, you can conclude that I am very proud that I have been able to lead this organization together with my teams for the last 30 years.
Innovation and technology go hand in hand and have ensured that we have been able to undertake many great challenges for 75 years with our customers, but also with our loyal suppliers. Specialism and technical knowledge are just as important in 1945 as in 2021 and in our industry that is the strength of a company.
I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the growth and continuity of the Laco Group over the past 75 years.
On to the 100 years!