For the members magazine “Entrepreneurs” by Voka – Chamber of Commerce Antwerp-Waasland, Jack and Nathalie were interviewed for an engaging article about the B&B Locks history, the applications of our high-quality locks, and a glimpse into the future of our activities. An article that we are quite proud of and that we are happy the share with you. The original article (in Dutch) can be found here.
“Our robustness is appreciated.”
Brother and sister successfully expanding the business in a contemporary way, whose foundation was laid by their father: this dream scenario is certainly the real-life story of B&B Locks from Wommelgem (Antwerp, Belgium). Nathalie and Jack Boeckx secure entrances worldwide with their locks, from Zaventem airport to banks in Namibia or even a prison in Bahrain.
Choosing the right place at the right time has proven to be crucial for B&B Locks. In late 2010, Nathalie and Jack Boeckx decided to relocate their company with its own production from Switzerland to Belgium, just when the Federal Public Service of Justice in Belgium was implementing its masterplan for the Belgian prisons. “Since 2005, we have been in the market, albeit in those first years still operating from Switzerland. We started there, not coincidentally because they are renowned for precision work and quality. These are crucial aspects for the production of locks. Our father had already begun with this activity, specializing in security glass and doors, which he had been delivering since the mid-eighties. Since his customers also wanted electronic locks, he eventually started developing them tailored to his products. For example, we have been working for the Zaventem airport for 30 years,” the brother and sister delve into the company’s history.
Initially, B&B Locks primarily served the banking sector for secure counters. However, the banking crisis in 2009 disrupted their business. “Banks not only cut back on their offices, but also reduced the number of security doors in most branches. During that period, we already had contacts with the Belgian Regie der Gebouwen after having gained experience working for Swiss prisons. Just when substantial investments were planned for Belgian prisons, we were able to develop locks with important features for that market,” Jack explains.
“As young, starting entrepreneurs, operating from Belgium was certainly easier for us from a family perspective. But also, in terms of production and logistics, it made more sense, as we were already generating more than half of our revenue there. So, we ultimately transferred the entire company to Wommelgem,” adds Nathalie.
Since then, B&B Locks has developed and supplied locks for numerous Belgian prisons and forensic psychiatric centers, from Leuven Central to Haren and Dendermonde. The upcoming Antwerp detention center is also already booked in their order book. In addition, police services, psychiatric institutions, and increasingly more businesses are turning to B&B Locks in Wommelgem (Antwerp). “We specialize in high security but are mainly appreciated for the robustness and reliability of our locks. They have found their place on numerous entrances that are intensively used, such as employee entrances or the entrance of a social housing complex,” they explain. “We collaborate with door manufacturers. Based on the customer’s requirements, we develop the concept. Using provided components, we assemble the lock in-house, and then we specifically program it according to the desired control method. Due to the construction of our locks, we can easily replace parts if necessary. This is a significant advantage in terms of both service and durability.”
B&B Locks also operates with an open system, to which partners can connect various access control modules. “These modules can function, for example, with a badge or a finger and iris scan. We also handle testing and monitoring. While we used to work mainly through distributors, nowadays, we increasingly oversee projects directly through contacts with builders, contractors, and architects. This allows us to better respond to the customer’s demands and guide them towards the best solution.”
Nathalie and Jack work together as a well-coordinated team, each with their own set of responsibilities. While Nathalie takes care of the administration, her brother focuses on development. “We divide networking and the commercial aspect between ourselves. This clear division of tasks, to which we have adhered for years, explains why this has been successful. Since we spend almost the entire day together, we may not dedicate enough time to discuss specific matters thoroughly. We are working on improving that, keeping in mind our further growth,” they both note.
According to them, promising growth opportunities are on the horizon, including ongoing projects with the Batopin cash machine network, police collaborations, and growing interest from data centers, laboratories, and post offices. “As a Wommelgem-based company, we already have a presence in the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. We have also executed projects in places like Kosovo, Dubai, Bahrain, Namibia, and South Africa. Half of our production is destined for export. In these international assignments, we hope to bring more regularity in the coming years. With our current structure of seven people, including two independent developers, we can manage that.”
Photos by Koen Fasseur