Jan Aalberts founded Mifa in 1975, forty years ago. Back then, aluminium precision extrusion was so little known within the market that Mifa almost went out of business a year later. However, as the saying goes, 'what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,' and that was certainly the case for Mifa. With the mentality ‘perform better every day,' Mifa grew step by step.
Read the inspiring interview with Dhr. Aalberts.
- What made you decide to start Mifa?
‘I was inspired by a small company in the USA that produced precision aluminium profiles. I knew then that this was something I could do in Europe as there was no one else producing these here. I believed that there was demand for this within the industry and I was convinced that it would be a success.
However, this did not initially happen. After only six months of extruding profiles with four or five staff members, the bank came to declare me bankrupt. On paper I was in a bad financial position, but this did not extend to our position on the market or our technology. So we just soldiered on and it became a great success.
‘Even after forty years, if I walk around the place, I almost cannot believe what it has become. This is largely thanks to good and committed staff. The foundation for the success of Mifa are these production employees and strong management.
‘Mifa is an excellent example of the fact that there are others who can perform certain tasks just as well as I can. In the last few years, I haven’t been actively involved in the success and the growth of the business into what it is today. So I’m incredibly proud of Mifa after forty years.’
- Do you have any particular memories of the start-up period of Mifa?
‘The small 3-inch press. That 3-inch press still stands here today. I was recently informed by management that the press had had a leakage and that oil had spread over much of the company premises. These types of things can happen with these machines. But bear in mind that that was the press I started everything with and that I operated it myself! I bought that press and then still often had to make repairs to it with help from others in the start-up period. It is a memory I cherish from those early days forty years ago.’
- What are you most proud of?
‘I am proud when I think back to that time when the bank came to declare me bankrupt. When I look at Mifa now, it makes me proud to see what it has achieved. I am, of course, also proud that the total company, Aalberts Industries, has an annual turnover of €2.3 billion and employs 15,000 people. Mifa was the foundation for this. This is where it all started.’
- How have you achieved all of this in forty years?
‘I have always been a fighter. An entrepreneur always has to fight. You have to think that it is never good enough and always try to raise the bar so that you can stand out from your competitors. That is the art of it. You must always ask yourself how you can be better than others. That is how you create a successful firm, a successful company. There must be many people who carry these thoughts, realize it, and also want to achieve these goals. But it is important to love what you do. Success is achieved through the combination of being unique, working hard, and loving what you do.’
- You do not appear to be easily contented.
‘Of course, I’m "content" if I am healthy, and I’m content about many other things. But in business I get somewhat irritated when people tell me that they are content. I ask them: “Are you no longer being challenged? Are there no more opportunities for growth or improvement?” I find “I am content” a difficult statement to accept as there is always room for improvement. And this can all be achieved without becoming frustrated, or stressed because the pressure is too much.’
- Who inspires you?
‘I also had to make a start once. I was young and didn’t know many of the things that I know now. An important part of my being is a reflection of other people. I have a great deal of respect for many people in my life without trying to become them. But I have incorporated and adopted aspects and qualities of others in my own particular way. You should always stay true to yourself.’
- What are the opportunities for Mifa in the next ten years?
‘Mifa needs to continue along the track that management is currently following. We need to invest in technology, sales, marketing, and new market opportunities. Markets and industries hear about Mifa and what we produce and deliver. The markets listen to Mifa because of what we are capable of and what we do. There aren’t many companies out there that can do what we do. So there is enormous potential for Mifa to explore. Mifa cannot simple rest on its laurels and be content. That would see the company fall rather than rise.’
Mifa. Experience precision.