"250 million pupils are taught with our boards"
The Limburg division of the Flemish employers’ organization Voka yesterday announced that exports from Limburg to countries outside the EU have increased by 20% to 906 million euros. 10% is destined for China, while 9% goes to India, 8.7% to Russia and 8% each to the Emirates and the US. Polyvision Belgium, an affiliate of the listed Steelcase in the US, is a perfect example of the importance of exports for Limburg companies. Polyvision also proves that it is possible to pursue its own activities independently from the parent company. Polyvision develops and manufactures enameled steel plates for a range of applications, including wall coverings for tunnels and underground stations – with many of them lining the walls in Brussels and teaching boards for classrooms. About 8 million of these educational boards are used in schools across the globe. “Every day about 250 million pupils learn and read from our boards,” CEO Theo Vanheusden says with pride. The company’s intention to take this niche market further can be seen in the interactive teaching board which has been developed and produced at their Belgian outfit. “It’s still an ordinary white board that allows you to write with erasable filt pens and is magnetic as well. The points grid that we’ve incorporated into the enamel layer makes it possible to use with an infrared pen. If used with a projector and laptop, you can show projected images on the board as one does with a touchscreen and it allows digital writing too.” Of the 28 million turnover recorded last year by this 116-strong company, 98% was earned from exports to 50 countries. Its US parent company has meanwhile set up a global research and development division in Genk to serve these markets while the parent company in the US serves the American market. “China and India, with their huge school-going populations, are countries with potential for tremendous growth, whereas the European education market only serves as a reference”, says Vanheusden.