A portrait of Pierre van Durme, the new managing partner at Soulbricks: “Passion and Trust lead to success.”
Creativity is an amazing asset
Pierre van Durme at first glance. Sharp, polite and reserved at first. Gradually, passion and enthusiasm take over, while developing his ideas and vision about Soulbricks and the way forward.
Originally a marketeer, he developed his career, moving into sales and general management. The path to entrepreneurial success was logical, given the holistic approach already present at the start of his career at Godiva.
‘It’s amazing how much creativity you can develop once you know your product ‘inside-out’. I have a deep-rooted respect for people who excel in their trade, their craft, and something I want to recognise in the people around me. ‘
At Lyreco he served as the ideal liaison officer between France and the Netherlands. In that capacity, he started to develop a taste for the whole market of office furniture. A passage at Buro Market was inevitable and deepened the know-how about the sector.
The ambition to start his own business led to his most successful adventure with Buro Project. He steered the company away from the low margin ‘furniture selling business’ towards more holistic and lucrative concepting and total design markets. Results followed soon, and the company grew to a total of 30 people.
‘When you find yourself in a red sea, of ever-decreasing margins and increasing price pressure, it remains a valid and necessary strategy to look for the blue ocean, quoting Chan Kim. More than ever, I keep that as a guideline in business’, he explains.
Trust is the basis for success
‘Know-how and the willingness to work hard is a necessary foundation for success. The other important ingredient is trust. Without trust in your partners, nothing of value can be accomplished. And however painful, when the trust in your partners or your idea is gone, you have to stop, else it ruins your take on life and humanity’, he adds with a coy smile.
‘I want to surround myself with upbeat, positive people because that is the only way to grow and have fun in your life. That is something that I admire in my current partners, Sophie and Nicolas. They are among the best in their trade, and they see opportunities and solutions rather than problems. That is the way to go!’
The future is bright
‘In the current situation, we could all be sitting in a corner and weep about a retracting market. Instead, we see tremendous opportunities. There’s an undeniable and inevitable shrinking of the square meters per company, due to Covid and remote work possibilities. But there’s also an immense array of unexploited opportunities.
Look at most modern airports. They are no longer a transportation hub. They rapidly transform into leisure and meeting centres, complete with parks and high-quality multifunctional areas. Why wouldn’t that be a dimension to explore in our office landscape as well?
Fundamental, long-neglected qualities drive future needs. What about ecology? What about sustainability, or the simple need to be multifunctional and stimulating? Think about the office as an equally enjoyable place to work as your home (office). What would it take? There are so many ways to move forward. I find it all very exciting and promising for the future.’
Soulbricks found a unique positioning
‘After all, Soulbricks is successfully moving into a market that previously didn’t even exist. We evolve around three dimensions. Concepting and designing are common but challenging, and only those with real skills will survive. It’s no longer about creating landscape offices and meeting rooms. It’s challenging to ideate around future functions that even the company itself didn’t dare to imagine.
The second level of our activities is equally important. The execution of the project, within time, within budget and above client expectations.
And the third level is where we make a difference that clients appreciate both in Belgium and abroad. The ability and the skills to manage spaces we conceptualised and make them as performing as possible. We are unique in that area. We do not see square meters as a passive asset for a company. We want to turn it into something more exciting and rewarding.
I have no doubts that we will thrive and realise exciting and challenging projects in the months and years ahead.