Brass crown jewel along the highway

An impressive new building as a ‘landmark’ along the E403 motorway from Kortrijk to Bruges: it is the new ARLU ‘epicenter’ for everything to do with opening doors. Brands argenta and ROB now have one joint operating base in Ardooie, Belgium, under one umbrella company name.

In 2021, Argent Alu and Louage & Wisselinck transferred the brands argenta (for all indoor products) and ROB (as a brand for outdoor solutions) to the new umbrella company ARLU. The ‘Opening Doors’ baseline was retained – as were both brands. According to the company, this represents a first step in the development of a strong company that specializes in everything around opening doors.

Reorientation to a visible location with added value
One and a half years after the start of the new building, ARLU also finally took over its 4 ha production site in Ardooie. It is located along the E403 motorway between Kortrijk-Brugge in the Ter Vlucht industrial area and is equipped with modern machinery. The new construction cost 16 million euros. At this factory, 100 people work with the production of door fittings.

“The new relaunch as ARLU was the last step in the merger of Argent Alu nv and Louage & Wisselinck. The three separate production sites were also brought together for this new, 22,000 m² production site in Ardooie, ”explains Wim Waelkens (CEO of Arlu). “We have been using the existing office complex in the former Louage & Wisselinck since the takeover in 2017. When it became clear how we could expand there and make it our central ARLU location, we immediately thought of the added value of a ‘landmark’ . of not less than 103 meters along the motorway, instead of the orientation of the existing complex on a quiet agricultural road. ”

In addition to the 6,000 m² already available, plans were soon made to expand with an additional 22,000 m² in production, warehouses and offices for the operational staff: the maximum achievable on site. Waelkens: “Instead of the back of a production hall, this new building – in addition to the front of the existing offices – got another front as an eye-catcher along the highway.”

Landmark in brass and black
This new construction project was the ideal opportunity for ARLU to reflect on the image of the strategically interesting facade. According to Waelkens, the design – designed by Binst Architects and technically developed by Embo Architects – was mainly to create a connection with what is happening behind the walls. Hence the brass color on the collar of the building as the prominent sign. The aforementioned baseline was given an equally prominent place on the expanded metal cladding under the ARLU logo.

“As a ‘logistics pedestal’, we deliberately kept the building’s black plinth very neutral to emphasize the contrast to the crown,” explains Luc Binst (CEO Binst Architects). “The warm appearance and design of the design must clarify in an instant which high-quality products take shape behind that façade. In short, it is a facade that perfectly matches the identity of the Arlu company in terms of soul. ”

Concrete, lots of light and naturally ventilated
Back to the building behind the facade, then, where Arlu together with architect Wim Embo lay out the lines for a functional industrial building in concrete. Adequate lighting, natural ventilation and an intuitive building management system were important requirements for the developer. Not surprisingly with all the knowledge in this area internally via Renson, the group of which ARLU is a part.

Wim Embo (Embo Architecten): “The terrain behind the existing plot was the biggest challenge for this extension project to the motorway. Not only was it much higher there, but there was also quite a wet surface. Together with the time allotted for this new building, it became an achievement to have this project licensed, built and operational in just two years. ”

Of course, ARLU used the opportunity to also integrate its own products in the design and thus put theory into practice. “But we go a step further and see this newly built location as the ideal test case for new developments,” says Waelkens. “By installing this, we can only really test in practice where they still need adjustment.”

Ready for further growth
With the new factory and the name change, ARLU demonstrates its ambition to continue to grow beyond the turnover of DKK 36 million. EUR (half of which comes from exports), as it signed last year. The company aims to reach 50 million euros by 2026. How? “By being close to the market and responding quickly to tomorrow’s trends,” says Waelkens. “These trends are central to the development and comprehensive testing that we do entirely internally.”

ARLU will also continue to be part of the Belgian Renson Group led by CEO Paul Renson; under the Renson brand, this group is active worldwide as a manufacturer of ventilation, sun protection and outdoor products.

“ARLU continues what it all started with for Renson as a family business in 1909, namely: door fittings,” says Paul Renson. “I am therefore proud of this new step forward. The fact that this is visually prominent along the motorway is an added value to ARLU’s fire awareness. ”
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