Ambition, entrepreneurship and innovation are values that Dockx Rental and partner Econor are proud to share. Econor’s tasks include the conversion, lettering and repair of Dockx delivery and removal vans and lorries. Hans Lauwers, CEO at Econor, offers an unique glimpse of his enduring partnership with Dockx Rental.
What does Econor do and what is your role within the company?
Just like Joeri Dockx, I’m the second generation within the family business. My father founded Econor 42 years ago, back in 1980. Since 1996 I’ve been the driving force and CEO, so for 26 years already, how time flies!
Econor consists of different divisions, including the conversion department, where we personalise delivery vehicles. When it comes to Dockx Rental, this means doing lettering, installing fittings, preparing for inspection and also taking the vehicles for their official road transport inspections. There is also a repairs department where we take care of damage. This ranges from delivery vans to chassis work on larger lorries, and also buses or trailers. As an automotive supplier, Econor specialises in delivery vans.
Looking at the company’s evolution, we have grown more professional and larger over the years. There is particularly strong growth in the conversion department, where we grew no less than 40% last year. The margins in this department are much smaller than in repairs but you do have the return on the vehicles that come back later for repairs. Today, we do about 2,500 repairs and 1,200 conversions a year. These are realised by our 40 employees, across 2 sites. Six years ago, we bought a second and larger site in order to keep up with all our activities.
How do you position yourselves in the market?
Econor is one of the top three players in Belgium. We are different because we are a super-sized family business, while fellow family-run competitors have stayed smaller. Besides Dockx, we also serve many other wonderful customers, including Coolblue, Besix, Stad Antwerpen and Hello Fresh.
Does Econor have further plans to expand and grow?
Always, of course! Good businesses always have plans to expand. An enormous evolution is underway in the automotive world: electrification, modification, transition. People involved in this world are certainly aware of the developments and Econor is trying to respond appropriately and make the right investments. For example, we will install two superchargers and lots of mobile chargers to be able to charge the increasing number of electric vehicles.
In addition, we also recently opened a body workshop for passenger vehicles. This is important to ensure we are first to master the market of sensors and vehicle electrification. Why is this so important? To use a simple example, if you replace a wing mirror on a vehicle, this wing mirror must be scanned into the computer. The camera settings in the wing mirror must then be adjusted. This involves the calibration of certain elements and it will evolve rapidly in the coming years. This evolution is happening alongside the development of self-driving vehicles. You could say that we are now at level three and are heading for level five. At level five, vehicles will be entirely self-driving, even without a steering wheel. Meanwhile, more and more sensors will be added to vehicles. Econor has opened the body workshop for passenger vehicles in order to cover the entire calibration system already. It is not yet the case with delivery vehicles, but it is sure to come. This means we are completely up to date and already armed with the knowledge by the time it applies to delivery vans. We have a clear vision of the future.
Why is Econor important to Dockx Rental?
Econor and Dockx Rental have already been partners for 15 years. When we first worked together we took care of the overflow of damaged delivery and removal vans and lorries. We are still doing this today, but for the last ten years we have been doing vehicle conversions too. In the past, the iconic Dockx yellow was painted onto the vehicles, but these days we use a wrapping process.
Dockx has an extensive fleet. During peak times, we supply almost 40 vehicles a month to Dockx, for which we do all the wrapping, fittings and inspection. We must comply with all the specific requirements relating to rental vehicles, of course, and also attach certain warning stickers in the vehicles. Our aim is to take care of everything for Dockx and to deliver ‘ready to roll’ vehicles to the car park that can be used for rental right away. It’s a win-win; we make life easy for Dockx, carry out damage repairs, and also do the lettering in-house. That makes our collaboration easy and efficient.
What do you have in common with Dockx Rental?
Joeri is a pioneer in his sector. You shouldn’t really say it about yourself, but I also consider myself as pioneering in business. We are excellent partners because we are both ambitious companies, which makes it easy to understand each other’s vision. That makes it a pleasure to work with Joeri specifically and Dockx in general.
Which Dockx accomplishment is most memorable?
Many film producers rent their vehicles from Dockx. During the Corona period, there was a request to rent minibuses from a French film crew who wanted to film in Wallonia. Apparently the scenery in Wallonia is a little like France, but they prefer filming in Wallonia, don’t ask me why! At the time, they were not allowed to travel together in one vehicle. So we searched for a solution, allowing the film crew to sit in the same minibus. We ended up constructing special screens in 15 minibuses to safely separate all the passengers. It was a wonderful project and the French film crew went off to Wallonia in Dockx buses.