CEO of 4ITEGO Group views his people’s growth as key

Day of the Entrepreneur provides the ideal opportunity for talking to Xavier Werbrouck, CEO of 4ITEGO Group. Entrepreneurship is part of Xavier’s DNA. After graduating as an electromechanical engineer, he was keen to start work as soon as possible. As his main interest was in product development, simulation and the optimisation of production processes, he soon found his way to the job market. Today, at 4ITEGO Group, he leads nearly seventy experts in the field. And it is the growth of the experts and the optimisation of customers' operational processes, by applying knowledge and technology, that serve as the driving force of his career.

Xavier explains that early on in his career, he was mainly involved with multinationals in his role as technical business development manager and in product strategy. “The challenge I faced at these large companies was to perform 10 different tasks with 150 people. Then I had the idea of focusing on the SME market, where you have a smaller team but the same needs exist. I wanted to help R&D managers of SMEs to optimise their product development and production processes. Those managers are local heroes. They know everything about the products they develop but do not have enough time to fully focus on this aspect themselves.”

“In 2011, I started working as a consultant and in 2012, I obtained a reseller contract from PTC and that’s how CadCorner was born. It continued to grow and in 2017, together with Robur Capital, I acquired GPOSolutions. We were working on CAD/CAE/CAM. GPO Solutions was mainly involved in data management process optimisation.” We also founded 4ITEGO Group to focus on total optimisation, from initial idea to finished product.

Afterwards, we noticed that customers needed high-end simulations: thermal calculations, electromagnetic calculations, material simulation calculations, fluid flow calculations, light simulation calculations, etc. That's when I got in touch with Infinite Simulation Systems, a sound company with a lot of high-end knowledge in simulations and an Ansys reseller; the company became part of the Group in 2019.

On 10 June 2022, CadCorner and GPO Solutions joined forces under a new name: Innoptus

High-end knowledge and high-end technology

By the end of this year, 4ITEGO Group will have over seventy employees including Innoptus and Infinite. “The intention is for the group to function and position itself as a single entity,” Xavier explains. “As a result, we also want to increase the effectiveness of our employer branding so that potential employees know exactly what we stand for and what we have to offer them. We love talent, so are constantly on the lookout for new people.”

Taking well-considered risks

Unlike lots of other companies, 4ITEGO Group achieved further growth during the Covid-19 crisis.  “Our values are integrity, commitment, expertise and sustainability,” reveals Xavier. “We want to implement those values at every level. Since sustainability is very important, we always think long-term. One example is our approach during Covid-19. We didn’t want to force our employees into temporary unemployment; we decided to look after them. They were given the time to develop.” 

“We knew we could expect a boost and wanted to optimally prepare for it. Even when we had excess capacity at certain times, we continued to recruit people. The strategy paid off, as it wasn’t long before we had to recruit additional people for the team. Taking well-considered risks is a vision I have always promoted. As well as daring to invest when the competition is reluctant. As a result, we achieved double-digit growth during the Covid-19 year 2020, and even managed to close 2021 with growth of 25%.”

“A good entrepreneur always surrounds himself with people smarter than himself”

Although there is no training to become a CEO, there are some traits that Xavier believes are necessary if you want to succeed: “In the first place, you have to be driven to achieve something. In my case, the social aspect is very important: I am not happy if I can't work with people. Allowing people to evolve is extremely satisfying.”

“You also have to be able to rely on your gut feeling and have a good dose of common sense. I didn’t follow a course to become a CEO. I am a techie, which means I am quite atypical in my current role. You gradually grow into it. I learnt more in practice than I did during my studies.”

According to Xavier the learning process never ends. “I want to evolve as a person so I can improve the way I coach people. I also derive inspiration from training sessions. I always say: a good entrepreneur always surrounds himself with people smarter than himself,” he laughs.

Even as CEO, Xavier wants to stay in touch with the customer in every project: “Sixty per cent of my time is still effectively spent on technical business development for our customers and our own company,” he explains. “You have to know what is going on with your customer and be involved. Without that direct contact, you miss important information and that’s where things do go wrong in many companies.”

“Furthermore, I want to spend twenty per cent of my time on company branding and supporting the Solar Team. Speaking at events where I share my experiences really energises me.

Growth for stability

As we face a global recession, stability is more important than ever. Back in 2017, Xavier presented the Growth for stability plan to employees, when acquiring GPO Solutions: “By operating in multiple countries, you create a first level of stability because you are dependent on different governments,” he explains.

“In addition, you strengthen your position by working with multiple suppliers. Lastly, it is also wise to target multiple fields and sectors with your range of products and services. When things deteriorate in a particular sector, your company is less affected by it as a result. We have the luxury of operating in many different industries such as automotive, mechanical engineering, healthcare, aviation and aerospace, services, etc. This diversification is a smart strategy to enable your company to stay afloat.” 

When it comes to the future of 4ITEGO, CEO Xavier has few concerns. Above all, he thinks about the growth of his people: “My philosophy is always: if you let people grow, the rest will automatically fall into place.”

The world of smart manufacturing does not stand still

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