News 21 April 2020

70 years of innovation, safety and responsibility

1950 – The year in which thousands of Volkswagen Kevers drove throughout the Netherlands and the year in which the very last steam tram left the tracks to be exhibited in a museum. Yet, it was also the year when our company was established and grew to become the biggest manufacturer for aluminium access solutions in the Netherlands.

It was a spring day in the South Holland town of Rijswijk; the sun had yet risen when the two gentlemen, Bijlo and Stedehouder, decided to start a company. A company that would focus on the production of access equipment, ironing boards, laundry racks and rotary clothes lines. The raw material aluminium was the only common denominator among these products. With a reference to the family names of the founders, the Bijstede firm was established. They could not have imagined – but had lots of hope – that 70 years later, it would develop into an international enterprise with branches in Belgium and Spain.

The origins

The expansion to Belgium and Spain were not the only relocations that they have undergone. In 1957, Stedehouder moved his entire company to Nunspeet. The village, situated at the border of vast forests of the Veluwe, became the basis for selling ladders, stepladders, scaffolds and suspension bridges to more than 65 countries. That was the basis for the product range that we all know today. In 1974, a new storage and distribution centre was built and several years later, the product range was expanded to include hydraulic platforms. Renting access equipment also became an important activity.


The birth of Altrex

In 1989, due to the increasing international growth of the brand name, the company name became Altrex. Perhaps one of the best-kept secrets is the meaning of the name Altrex. It was the acronym for Aluminium Ladders Trappen (=stepladders) Excelsior and also an anagram of the word ‘relaxt’. The name Bijstede was history. Under the management of Mr Van Leeuwen, Altrex became a fully-fledged Dutch company in 1994 and entered a new phase in its existence. To create a clear division between sales and rental, Altrex Hi-Reach was established on 1 January 1999.

Two years later, the facility in Nunspeet became too small for the growth ambitions. The company searched and found a location for constructing a new facility. On 21 November 2001, builders’ broke ground at the Hessenpoort industrial area in Zwolle. This became the new home for Altrex with a total of 25,000m² of office, factory and warehouse space. Everything under one roof. On 10 April 2003, the company officially opened the doors of this new facility. During that same year, the rental company Altrex Hi-Reach decided to continue further as an independent company.


Our key values as the basis for innovations

So much has changed, yet throughout all these years, a lot has also remained the same. Our key values have occupied a central position with every decision in any part of the organisation: safety, responsibility and innovation. And that is also what you see in our products.

1. Safety

You can always count on Altrex, literally and figuratively. We do everything in our power to ensure that you can always work safely with our products – at any height. Based on practice, we conceive and develop pioneering solutions. If legislation imposes a new safety norm, we are the first to come up with a practical and workable answer. Being a leader is characterised by the invention of the Safe-Quick® GuardRail. This is the solution for working safely on a rolling tower and furthermore, the first guardrails in the world. Yet safety also demands ergonomics. Besides making work situations safer, we also ensure minimum strain on your body. For example, a Fiber-Deck® scaffold platform is 30% lighter than a traditional wooden platform. You can certainly imagine the positive effect of these inventions on the human body. That way, you know that you can always count on Altrex – at any time, at any place. ‘Relax. It’s an Altrex’ is our proud slogan.

Safe-Quick® GuardRails
All-round protection, even during assembly
Fiber-Deck® platform
30% lighter than a traditional platform

2. Responsibility

This is also precisely where we feel the responsibility. A safe, comfortable and relaxed feeling when working with our products. Responsibility is also making safety at work visually noticeable. With the traditional red rung – also called the Red Step® – you see at a glance the maximum height where you can stand. That is very clear. The fact that we develop unique products was also confirmed by the Royal House of the Netherlands. In 2008, we had the honour of hosting Queen Beatrix – the Queen of the Netherlands at that time – in our headquarters.

In addition to developing products and production, we also feel responsible for contributing to a clean and healthy environment, for both man and animal. By making smart choices based on social responsibility (CSR), sustainability in our company is more than an option. More than 2,300 solar panels on the roof of our facility is a living proof of this.

Red Step®
Working safely in the blink of an eye
2.300 solar panels
On the roof of our facility

3. Innovation

Furthermore, innovation is a standard feature at Altrex. Innovation is the solution, but innovation is also doing just a bit more than what is expected of us. That means optimizing user’s ease in all our products. A few decades ago, we introduced the Double Decker, Taurus and Mounter. We have now developed these into their best versions and thereby offer user comfort on every rung and step.

Innovation is having a solution for the challenge posed by a client, take for example the MiTOWER, the first rolling tower that can be built up by one person, or the Eifel platform step ladder, which was developed in collaboration with safety experts and ergonomists, or the 75-meter long welding line, named the best innovation in Europe in 2015. This is the shape of progress and the shape of innovation.

MiTOWER rolsteiger
The first rolling tower that can be built up by one person
Eifel platform stepladder
Developed in collaboration with safety experts and ergonomists
75-meter long welding line
Named the best innovation in Europe in 2015

Towards the future

Safety awareness in the workplace has become increasingly greater among employers and employees. The current collaboration with dealers, standards agencies and sector organisations as partners is expanding all the time. They all have a mutual goal: reducing accidents in the workplace. And that begins with logical considerations and reliable access equipment.

On balance, for 70 years we have been representing the standard in access equipment. Over 70 years, we have grown into the trusted partner, an international manufacturer of access equipment with several branches and above all, a place where people can feel at home. Because wherever we grow, we do that with our people, our machines and our resources. That is our identity, and this will never change.

“Relax. It’s an Altrex.”