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BUILDING CUSTOMER AMBITIONS TOGETHER

This family business from Brabant has grown into an international construction company for top brands such as Rituals, Eden Hotels and Basic Fit. With nearly 100 years of experience in construction, BULSINK can rightly call itself a leader in the field. CEO ANTOINE BULSINK is most proud of the employees and the long-term partnerships the company has built with the brands. ‘We are wholeheartedly committed to 5-star hospitality’, says DEBBIE MELIS, COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR. For Bulsink, this means that customer focus is not just a strategy, but more importantly a mindset shared throughout the entire organisation.

As a general contractor, Bulsink focuses on building completions in the and hospitality, leisure, office and care. The company now operates in nine countries, with offices in Paris, Cologne and Barcelona. We take care of the entire process, from design to turnkey delivery, explains Antoine. ‘We take on all of the responsibility. We think in line with the customer’s requirements and needs, which are always the principles that guide us. Virtually all of our clients are brands, the big brands that put a premium on identity and experience. We enjoy helping them progress towards their growth ambitions, from brainstorming sessions to super-fast implementation. The faster we are, the faster the client is back in business. Our young and decisive organisation is ready to truly take the burden off the customer, from the very start of the finishing or renovation process right through to completion. We are now working together on the growth ambitions of our customers with a team of over 80 strong. I’m really incredibly proud of that!’

Warm welcome
The spirit of experience and hospitality goes deep into the very heart of the company. It’s part of our DNA as a family business, says Debbie. ‘We aren’t a traditional construction company. We truly do things in a completely different way! Walking through our premises, you can literally see what we mean by making you feel welcome. We want a client to feel understood, to know that we understand what it takes for them to drive their business forward. We are so deeply committed to this that we take it for granted. Even here at our office. If we know what music you like, we’ll play your favourite Spotify playlist for you when you step out into the car park.’ In fact, the Bulsink office in Son doesn’t exactly have the look and feel you would expect of an ‘ordinary’ construction company. It’s an experience in itself, dominated by a warm, welcoming atmosphere all the way from the reception to the restaurant, where a passionate chef prepares healthy meals every day. And not just for employees, Debbie adds. ‘Of course, we also often invite clients here. And we even go a step further. Customers can also invite business associates or hold meetings here themselves. That’s all possible.’

BUILD
Bulsink boasts an impressive portfolio of top international brands. The company’s vision and mission are reflected in its core values, expressed simply as BUILD, where the B stands for brands and branding. Antoine explains: ‘We only do projects where identity and appearance are a priority. We help the client formulate and safeguard their identity. We collaborate on the strategy and concepts that lead to a design. In short, it’s about working on our clients’ brands, which is always in close consultation. You do it together as partners. We really listen to the customer. I often hear that other construction companies will immediately start talking about the specifications and drawings, about structural solutions. Along the lines of: “tell us what we should do.”
With us, we first focus on the customer’s needs and requirements. That’s what we discuss. The architectural details come next. That’s our job and we don’t bother our clients with that. Of course, apart from working super or ultra-fast, we also work within a target budget.’

Smartest
Our entire team shares the same drive and dedication to projects. Clients realise that the people sitting at the table really want to work with them, says Debbie. ‘We always answer every call. With the big contractors, closing time is at five o’clock sharp. Our staff will even answer the phone at 11 o’clock on Saturday evening. For us, it’s all about personal commitment and connection to the client. You truly get things done together and people can sense that.’ Antoine adds: ‘People do business with people. It sounds simple, but it not only means that you are always prepared, but also that you can genuinely relate to what is going on with the customer. That you can identify with their needs. Which in turn means you know exactly how you can best help them. What’s the smartest way to go? So initially, it’s not about building at all, but about the customer formula and what they want to achieve with it.’

Delivering customised solutions
The company has experienced massive growth in recent years. We grow with our customers, says Debbie. ‘Our expansion in Europe is also a result of this – we follow our customers. Of course, we see that there are challenges in the market, such as energy prices, rising construction costs and interest rates. We are responding to that by staying lean and mean. Growing in pace, but not overextending.’ In the end, working with brands is always about delivering customised solutions, says Antoine. ‘Some customers want to see zero on the meter at their premises and others are more concerned about making their products more environmentally friendly. Every customer has specific needs and we leverage our expertise to meet those needs, always going that extra step further if need be.’ The emerging international trends in both retail and hospitality and hotels show that ‘mom and pop’ shops aren’t going to make it. ‘It’s now very difficult for smaller players to compete with chains who can establish formulas and enjoy low purchasing costs. You can also see more and more chains opening up in the hospitality industry.’

Digital twin
Digitalisation is becoming an increasingly important part of chain service operations, Debbie and Antoine point out. ‘For example, hotels that handle the technical matters through an app but then really pamper their customers with a personalised approach from a hospitality perspective.’ Bulsink itself is also highly committed to innovation, with digitalisation already far advanced in their operations and – literally – adding a new dimension to the customer experience. Debbie: ‘We are fully automated and digitalised. We have an incredible VR space here in the office, which we can use to show the client what their building will look like from the front.’ Antoine: We build a complete digital twin, which allows us to immerse the client completely in the experience of the building. Augmented reality also allows them to walk around the premises on location with an Ipad in their hands, connected to GPS. We use these innovative tools to bring the artist’s impression and architectural drawings to life. In the past, when we still worked with drawings, things often needed to be added during the construction process or customers sometimes wanted things to be different. Now they can see what they are getting right before their eyes and we can include all of their preferences right from the start.’

No problem!
Ultimately, our aim is to take the burden completely off the customer, Antoine asserts. ‘The customer should be able to drive their business forward with peace of mind. In this regard, the shop is its main vehicle. We aren’t that important, but that shop is. It has to be created at the right price, the right pace and with the right experience, which is what it’s all about at the end of the day. People who come to work here from other construction companies are sometimes surprised by how fast we work. They are used to the traditional way of working in construction. We may get a request in on Friday for a million euro project where a bid needs to be submitted in five days and construction needs to start in a fortnight. We’ll just quickly get that sorted if need be, no problem!’

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