Flemish safety boots joins mission to increase US sales with help of Sandra Bullock
Bekina is one of nearly 300 Belgian companies in the US taking part in the economic mission which will take them to Atlanta, New York and Boston this week.
The East Flemish producer Bekina exports their safety boots worldwide, even to the cinema industry. During "The Unforgivable" on Netflix, the actress Sandra Bullock wears a pair of white work boots made by the Belgian company from Kluisbergen.
It is no coincidence that Bullock wears Bekina boots in the film set in an American food company. The company already sells boots in the US, but intends to expand that significantly.
Thomas Vanderbeke, CEO and owner of Bekina, hopes to boost the sales by participating in the economic mission to the US. The stumbling block is the high import duties that the company has to pay on the boots: 38.5 percent.
They are made of polyurethane and are used by farmers, in food companies, the fishing industry or in the offshore wind farm sector.
“Wherever it's cold and wet, our boots come into their own,” says Vanderbeke.
The company was founded by his grandfather, Denis Vanderbeke. That son of a shoemaker saw a lot of potential in the production of all kinds of boots. Sixty years and two generations later, about 700,000 pairs of safety boots roll off the production line at Bekina every year. These are exported to 80 countries: throughout Europe, but also in Chile, the US, Canada or Australia.
Besides boots, Bekina also produces high-end rubber mixtures, sealing elements for construction and plastic parts for slatted bases. But the most export-oriented product of the East Flemish is undoubtedly the boots.
"A boot is not sensitive to the economic cycle. A broken boot has to be replaced. Nobody likes to work with wet feet," says Vanderbeke.
The company continued to grow during corona times and is now aiming for an annual turnover growth of ten percent.
With a turnover of 40 million euros - 90 percent of which is for export - Bekina is the second largest producer of safety boots worldwide. The first is a Dutch company.
© BELGA PHOTO (FRED TANNEAU / AFP)