As we drive down the quiet Bruggesteenweg on our way to the agreed address, we see a large, modern glass building that contrasts sharply with the old buildings in the surrounding industrial area. The head office is brand new.
Once upstairs, Peter discloses that this is just one of several new sites. Not bad for what was once a one-man company in a garage, specializing in overhauling turbos. TH Group was established in 1974 by Alfred Hoet. The entry of Ackermans & van Haaren into the capital (50%) in 2006 strengthened the further growth of the group. Today, the company specializes among other things in distributing lorries, service and spare parts, leasing, renting and of course, distributing turbos.
TH group is now the world’s largest distributor of the famous DAF trucks, ranks among the top three in the world for turbo distribution in the aftermarket and is Belgium’s largest independent truck leasing company. The company has a workforce of 900 employees, spread over eight countries and more than forty sites. And until recently, that was just where the shoe pinched, Peter explains.
“Until recently, these forty different sites all had different IT systems and switchboards. What’s more, altogether there were about 60 servers at 23 different locations. That couldn’t carry on. So about three years ago we decided to gather all the European IT departments together at our head office and to centralize the servers in two data centers. That in itself saved time for our IT department. But we were still wasting a lot of time on all these different switchboards.
Every time an error occurred on a site or a new employee was taken on, someone from IT at the head office had to go to the site to adjust the cabling. So when we had to set up new switchboards anyway, for our new or renovated sites, we decided to establish a single switchboard for all the Belgian sites once and for all.”
In Peter’s view, the choice of partner was obvious: “We spoke to various people, but it soon became clear that we would be joining forces with our usual partner, Proximus. The price was right, and the link of trust that we have is very valuable.”
Proximus suggested introducing the Fix Mobile Unification solution at all seventeen Belgian sites in the TH Group. With this solution, the staff can use the same number for both mobile and fixed devices, so that customers can reach them more easily. What’s more, it is simple for them to set up the system themselves to determine when customers can reach them and when they are redirected. Plus all mobile and fixed devices share one big telephone directory.
“The system has only been working at our sites for three weeks, so it’s still early for practical results,” Peter explains. “But I am firmly convinced that this can be a huge step forwards. For example, just look at the time saved by our IT staff, who now only have to manage one central switchboard. But our employees benefit too: they no longer have to exchange telephone numbers and they can choose when they can be reached.
We are going to roll out this solution to all our sites in Belgium as quickly as possible. My concern? We must be sure enough attention is paid to the operational security of the central switchboard. If the system goes down for any reason, all our Belgian sites are suddenly without a telephone. But Proximus can offer us sufficient guarantees for this. The only other disadvantage that I can think of is that we can’t roll out this system across the whole group.”
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