Driving change for 35 years and more
In 2022, Horrex turns 35 years young. We talked to the founder Ed Gennissen to recall some fond memories along this journey and refresh the vision for the future.
In 1987, Ed started the business in his cellar from the house at Kinderdijk . Initially he was making fly screens for houses. During an accidental visit to a caravan show, he was surprised to discover that there was nothing for the caravan doors, except the so-called “cat tail” curtains to cover the space.
“I made the first bifold fly screen door. It can be folded in the middle. So it doesn’t stick out too much in the caravan and saves space,” says Ed.
Ed had a big vision for his small “child” at that time. In the name of Horrex, hor means fly screen door in Dutch while rex means king in Latin. “If you are an entrepreneur, you should not be modest,” smiles Ed.
He also created a slogan “Driving Change”, which implies how the business drives innovation. Indeed, Horrex is the first to roll out many game-changing products, such as the pleated fly screen doors and slide-outs with curved corners to prevent leakage.
Many do not notice that this slogan is in the art deco style, a style of visual art, architecture and design that appeared in France in the 1920s. It was the first time that people could embrace design into their everyday life, as many tasteful products came at affordable prices. That is also the vision of Horrex一 to supply well-designed, quality products at surprisingly good prices.
The first customer is Kip Caravan, one of the oldest caravan manufacturers in Europe. By installing fly screen doors, Kip motivated other manufacturers to do so as well. This trend has become a standard. “Now everywhere in every caravan, there is a fly screen door,” Ed says proudly.
To get more customers, Ed was traveling all over the world. “Monday US, Friday Australia ... I could go on like this forever,” Ed says. “No jet lag at all.”
All these fruitful meetings turned into trustful relationships over the years. He estimated that 90 percent of customers stay with Horrex, regardless of the ups and downs in the market.
“It is not just about sales. It is also about having fun together,” Ed recalls a game played by the exhibitors in the earlier days of the Caravan Salon, the world's largest trade fair for motor homes and caravans. As this show spans over two weekends, Ed’s Scottish friend invented a contest to keep everyone entertained during the quiet weekends.
To get a guy with leather trousers to the stand, one would get five points. To get a child with a balloon, one would get ten points. When a child with a balloon appeared in the hall, these stand owners called each other excitedly and everyone was trying to attract the child.
Whoever earns 100 points over the weekend can get a bottle of champagne. But what was the secret to earning more points? Perhaps pierce the balloon and make the child burst out crying (sorry for our wicked imagination).
For all these years at Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf, Ed is strangely loyal to a small family hotel. The hotel lady is truly a character who spices up the whole Düsseldorf experience. Strict and a bit tense, she can make the most mischievous guests behave.
Nevertheless, she is sweet in her own ways, as she prepares various tasty sandwiches for guests who rush to the show in the morning. But do not dare to “smuggle” more than one sandwich.
Besides this strange tradition to stay in the same hotel, Horrex has many other traditions such as hosting a barbecue every summer. Everyone is welcome, including two office dogs Boris and Ori.
Horrex has come a long way, the headquarters have moved from Kinderdijk to Ridderkerk, then to Alblasserdam and the company is now based in Vlaardingen.
As to the future, Ed aspires not only to drive change, but also to catch waves in the new markets. “In Asia, the market is growing, from China to South Korea and Vietnam. People have more spare time and hopefully they want to spend it in a caravan. We want to be present in those markets and see the developments,” says Ed.
This time, he is not alone.
“We have a team that can bring the company to the future,” he says. “Together with good people, we can raise Horrex together.”