Congratulations, Luc Tack

spring2015 luc tack On Picanol’s website we read that ‘The Picanol Group is proud to announce that Luc Tack, managing director of the Picanol Group, has been chosen as Manager of the Year 2014. The award, an initiative of the Flemish business weekly Trends, is being presented this year for the 30th time. The winner was selected by a jury of entrepreneurs, specialists and journalists in combination with online voting on the Trends website.’

‘The jury singled out Luc Tack for his daring, ambition and strategic vision, ‘ explained jury chairman Luc Vandewalle, ‘Thanks to his outstanding management decisions, Luc has managed to create renewal and growth at Picanol. Furthermore, with his achievements at Picanol he is a worthy successor to recent winners who have all been exemplary in the consistency, soundness and stability of their management.’

But who is the man behind this success story?

We all know that Luc Tack is the CEO of Picanol and more recently also the CEO of Tessenderlo Chemie and that Picanol has outperformed the Belgian stock market. However, in general we know very little about him.
Apparently his friends describe him as an extremely hardworking entrepreneur, who prefers to be immersed in his firms. He is also known as the man who always has a helmet and an overall in his car, so that he can immediately dive between the machines. He doesn’t like publicity and rarely accepts invitations to give interviews or to address an audience. Yet when you become Manager of the Year, you have to give your maiden speech, which he did in March at an event organized by Lead-in.

In the Ageas auditorium, Luc shared some insights. AHEAD was present and noted the following:
Luc Tack’s father was active in the flax industry, but successfully re-invented himself at the age of 54 when he foresaw that this industry was at a dead-end. He decided that opening a carwash would be a good alternative, as more and more people had a car. Luc often had to skip school in order to wash cars, so he never obtained a degree. But he learned a lot from his clients, curious as he was.

At the age of eighteen, he flew to New-York in order to find and visit wood producers. He started to contact them (finding the addresses in the yellow pages) and when he showed up, he explained that his father had sent him, as some of them were rather surprised by his young age. He bought and sold shiploads of timber, back-to-back, cutting out the middlemen, long before the internet would do this. It was the beginning of his professional success.

In the meantime his family carwash business evolved into Tankcleaning, a more specialized and more rewarding activity. But when Luc tried to convince his father to invest into a fleet of trailers, his father advised him to start his own company, fearful that he would bankrupt the business with his creative and audacious plans.

'When the economy is tough,  a lot of people think that it never will improve
and when the business is going well, a lot of people forget that it can worsen.’

What’s the secret? 

Let’s fast forward to 2004 when Luc became a serial investor and major shareholder of Picanol. In 2009 he purchased the majority of the shares, when most of the other shareholders didn’t want to subscribe the capital increase necessary to redress the company.

It is noteworthy that Picanol not only develops, produces and markets his high-tech weaving machines, but also produces his own software (with PsiControl) and iron castings (within Proferro).For Luc Tack is a great believer that a company should not rely on third parties for its key components.

When questioned about his role, he sees himself as a conductor of the orchestra. He is the one who makes the choices and who makes sure that everyone knows his role.

Luc Tack sees reliability as his most important asset and often tells prospects, that when you buy one of our weaving machines, we guarantee you that we will always be there to help you. We will become partners and we will do everything to make you successful. That way, the success of his clients is the best marketing for his products.

Luc declared that he often witnesses the same mistake: ‘When the economy is tough, a lot of people think that it never will improve and when the business is going well, a lot of people forget that it can worsen.’

There is a lot of truth in these wise words. AHEAD wishes Luc Tack continued success in all his endeavours.