Their own sales organisation
After a number of years of producing for other clothing houses and for the Army, Sjef van Winkel wanted to be less dependent on his patrons. 90% of his revenue came from 10% of the customers, which wasn't ideal for the long term. Moreover, the price was becoming increasingly more of an issue with these customers. The Dutch company could no longer compete with factories in lower wage countries.
The best way to become price independent was to set up his own sales organisation. He had enough experience. His own company - affectionately known locally as 't Fabriekske - had already reached the proportions of a true factory with more than 100 workers. His machines were also sufficiently perfected to be used for the production of shirts.
Birth of Ledûb
In 1963 Sjef dared to take the next step. Full of pride he presented his Ledûb brand of shirts. The name is in fact simply an anagram of Budel, the Brabant birthplace of the brand. It isn't clear who thought of the name, Sjef himself, an old classmate and an accountant each had something to do with it. On the other hand Sjef’s son, Gerard van Winkel, is well and truly the sole author of the important accent on the û. This small detail made the logo and brand name much more recognisable.
The second generation takes over
Gerard van Winkel (son of the founder Sjef) finished his military service in 1963. He had hoped that his father would give him a month's holiday before he had to work in the shirt factory. But after two days of holiday, the head of the cutting room became ill and Gerard had to step in quickly to replace him.
Induction of the son of the founder
He dove in at the deep end and after two weeks in the cutting department he felt almost overwhelmed by the job. He even dreamt about cuffs and collars. After just two months in one department he went to the next department where he learnt new facets of the company.
Within a year and a half he had worked throughout the company and then his father gave him his first important task: to start up a production line in Lille. When this mission was accomplished after 2.5 years Gerard came back to Budel to sort out the sales there. Another huge task!
Lessons for sons of directors
In 1968 Gerard saw an ad in the Financieel Dagblad. It was for a course for sons of directors who would one day follow in their father's footsteps. For the astronomically high sum of 10,000 guilders he would be prepared, within two years, for the future role of director. Father agreed and that turned out to be the best decision ever.
As a result of that course it was obvious that father and son had very different visions. However, both were convinced that there could only be one captain on the ship. Survival no longer depended on a production-based direction but rather on a sales- based direction. Father was a typical ‘production man’ and so in 1970 the leadership of Van Winkel's clothing factory was taken over by the more commercial minded son, Gerard van Winkel. At that time he was just 21 years old.
To the 70's