Since its inception in 1897, ACP has never failed to deliver a CO2 order to its direct customers, a fact that the Belgium-based business proudly declares. CO2 is weaved into the company’s DNA; it is and has been ACP’s core business for almost 120 years. A leading supplier in Europe and boasting an extensive know-how of expertise in the field, its name ‘Acide Carbonique Pur’ literally translates into ‘CO2.’
ACP Europe is headquartered in Belgium but has significantly grown over the years and now has facilities covering the bulk of Northern Europe, with four liquid CO2 production plants in operation throughout Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Poland. These facilities produce a total of 69 tonnes of CO2 per hour, combining to create an annual production of around 500,000 tonnes. With six independent sources of CO2, ACP allocates around 80% of its volume for direct customers, with the excess then sold onto the general market.
The company also has two dry ice production sites in both Belgium and Poland, that produce a combined total of around 15,000 tonnes of dry ice each year.
ACP boasts a transport fleet of 60 trailers and also has 20 rail wagons on standby that are poised to deliver between Belgium and Poland in case of shortage emergencies. This type of back-up is crucial to the company, with this philosophy extending throughout ACP’s operations. It always aims to have at least five days’ worth of buffer stock in case of emergencies and works with natural growth at the core of its development strategy, as Rik Timmermans, one of the Directors at the corporation, explains, “Our intention is to always grow organically and adjacent to our present area because we know it is so important to have a back-up in the CO2 business.”
With a €38m ($42.4m) turnover in 2015, the company has cemented itself as a market leader in its field, but ACP has set its sights on expansion and is targeting Eastern Europe as its next area to conquer. “15 years ago, we were a Belgium-based company selling a little bit in Germany,” confirms Jan De Ridder, fellow Director at ACP. “Today, we have experienced growth in Benelux, Germany has become a much more important region, and our market in France is still growing.”
“In Poland, we started out producing around 10,000 tonnes of CO2 but now we are leading the market in Poland by far, producing around 150,000 tonnes each year. Our next goal is to have established Ukraine as our fourth most important region by 2020, and to produce another 100,000 tonnes of CO2 from a new plant that we are constructing in Odessa.”
“We mainly see the most potential and development in the Eastern region of Europe so we signed the contract for and are in the process of constructing our new plant in Ukraine,” he continues. “We are preparing the plant and the land, and recruiting the staff, so in three to five years our plant will be operational. At the moment, Ukraine only has really small, local production, so we will be the only gas company with reliable quality CO2 production. So yes, the goal is to invest and grow further.”
Currently, around 110 staff keep operations running smoothly at ACP. Besides its plants, which are heavily automated, the company continuously maintains around 350 on-site customer installations, meaning no less than 10 technicians are on the road at all times.
Additionally, the family-owned corporation is vertically integrated, meaning it takes care of the whole chain; from sourcing CO2, through the purification processes, and then delivers the product to its customers for use in various applications. “We are a standalone company; from production to installation, we always go beyond and go the extra mile,” De Ridder confirms.
So what is all this growth and success attributed to? “We are extremely customer orientated,” Timmermans stresses. “We offer reliability and we have always supplied our customers – sometimes we will even take a loss on product, like supplying it from Poland, just to keep the customer relation and supply guarantee. Quality and safety is also essential when supplying CO2 to major beverage companies like Coca-Cola and AB INBEV and customers in the chemical industry like Evonik and Lanxess – we put a lot of effort into that and we don’t take any risks.”
“We also try and be innovative as a core business element and try to be ahead of our competitors by using the latest technologies. It’s a big challenge, but we are succeeding so far.”
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