A Proud History
Hertel is a resilient company. Founded in 1895 by just one man, Alexander C.L. Hertel, Hertel is still there. Take a look at the past 115 years: two world wars, major crises, increasing competition, globalisation, you name it. Hertel has thrived by paying close attention and adapting to the constantly changing market, while preserving its core asset: its people.
From marine insulation to industrial insulation and beyond
Today, Hertel may rightly be called a global industrial service provider. In addition to its core activities of insulation, scaffolding and mechanical work, the company offers numerous expert services focusing on industrial maintenance and project work. How did this come about? When founder Alexander Hertel set up his company just before the end of the 19th century, he was convinced that there was a great demand in supplying seals and insulation materials by shipyards.
His idea – still an essential part of Hertel’s strategy – was to look within the scope of his operations as to how he could best serve his customers. Even back then, this philosophy brought in many renowned clients: the Koninklijke Maatschappij De Schelde in Flushing (now Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding), still client of Hertel, as well as all the ships sailing for the Holland America Line.
The Royal Netherlands Navy was also a major client in the post-war years, and even well into the 1970s, Hertel was generating most of its turnover from the insulation of navy frigates. At the same time Hertel started up an independent department in Rotterdam in the field of industrial insulation. Following a downturn in the marine repair industry Hertel’s marine-related turnover declined to almost nothing, as did the workforce (from 250 to 60 people). This was the start of a difficult period, but Hertel survived, thanks to the flexibility of its people.
The expansion of port activities and Europoort in this area, enabled Hertel’s rapid growth in serving oil and petrochemical. First in the Netherlands, later in the rest of Europe. The traditional and often unconventional nature of marine insulation gave way to carefully defined planning due to the large size and relatively short lead times of projects. Oil and petrochemical companies often asked for the insulation to have sheet finishing, which required well-equipped workshops. Patience, flexibility and trust ensured the changeover turned out to be a good move and made Hertel what it is today, gradually increasing the services and the geographies. Scaffolding, Mechanical, Blasting and Coating appeared on the menu alongside Industrial Insulation.
Safety remains our number-one priority
Hertel can only prosper if its people are looked after. Today, safe working continues to be seen as the most important principle at Hertel. The appointment of a safety director who works continuously on a global level to make safety the highest priority helps the organisation strive for zero accidents. No one should ever be injured at work.
If he were alive today, Alexander would probably look back with pride on the development of Hertel and the knowledge that their philosophy and culture lives on. Anno 2010 Hertel has become one of the leading industrial service providers in the world. Alexander Hertel’s modest marine insulation company has grown into a global corporation employing thousands of people, and the next few years will see this growth continue: in terms of services, in terms of countries and hence also in terms of employees. Hertel will continue to invest in its core activities of insulation, scaffolding, painting and mechanical work, alongside special areas of expertise such as E&I, Tracing & Rope Access. The Power, Process, Offshore and Oil & Gas industries will repay close attention because these are the markets where Hertel can best serve its customers and provide the services that the company is so good at. This is what Alexander did, and this is what we are still doing. Thanks to our company’s core asset: its people.