"Many of the clients have practically become family members.
'Many customers have become quasi family'
Kris Damme has been the face of Damme Bouw for almost forty years. Today, his company is one of the leading players in high-end villa construction in Flanders. Despite that success, the driven West Fleming has remained remarkably down-to-earth and modest. 'I am someone who focuses mainly on long-term relationships. Many clients become friends over the course of a project.'
'Dammes work, stout and strong'. It's a slogan that has now been around on the shop floor at Damme Bouw for more than a decade. 'Our employees once launched it themselves,' Kris Damme proudly tells us. The manager of the renowned construction company from Hooglede is a warm and enthusiastic personality. A true West-Fleming: keep going, don't complain, don't make things too difficult. A cautious entrepreneur too, who does not take too many risks and does not see it all as too grand. He talks with great bravado about his work, his customers, his own people. For him, his employees are above everything else. 'They are your foundation,' he agrees. 'I have always invested heavily in my staff. Training is so important. You have to take your time and be patient to teach someone skills and let them grow. Communicate a culture where your employees feel good, where they feel they are really contributing to your story. Most who work here today started here at a young age. Surely that says something, and I am also very proud of that.'
Damme was barely 22 when he took over his father's business together with his wife Mieke, who is still part of the driving force. Today, the couple is over fifty and has a string of fantastic projects to its credit. For instance, Damme Bouw realised the luxury event location 't Convent in Lo-Reninge and the beautiful wellness area in the four-star Andromeda Hotel in Ostend. The portfolio also includes mainly private villa construction: exclusive country houses with well-balanced aesthetics and a strong sense of finishing and detailing. So a demanding clientele, but that is exactly what Kris Damme likes. I am very punctual and perfectionist myself,' he admits. 'I know the status of every construction job in progress. I can't let things go, jamais. It just has to be right. That is also why I am so strongly committed to the relationship with clients. Many of them have really become friends over the years. For some, I have even started cooking for them on the completion of their project. Or it happens that I go along to public sales, for example, to advise on permits, town planning formalities, you name it. For me, it doesn't stop with the building itself. Almost all the projects we do are the result of word-of-mouth advertising. Or run through regular customers. Parents and then their children. A first home and then an outhouse. This is also how I prefer to work: very personal, thinking along, being there for your customers. Our company doesn't have to be the biggest, we just want to deliver high-quality work.'
Renovation, new construction and interior
Damme Bouw focuses on both renovations and new construction, and you can also go there for driveways and terraces, concrete, crane and earthworks. A large part of interior design has also been added in recent years. Kris Damme himself has a great feeling for design. He gives colour advice to various customers or draws up the interior concept, including curtains and bedding. Together with partner Davy Defevere, he also founded Duo D Concept a few years ago, which specialises in customised interior finishing. 'We strive for perfection in every project and attach great importance to finishing and detailing,' he says. 'There is nothing better than finalising a building from A to Z, until even the last cushion is in place. In the future, we will further optimise that service. Since a few months, my daughter Laura and her husband Maxim have joined the business. She is trained as an architect and real estate agent, which is already creating new momentum. That's what I mean: we don't have to get bigger, but we do have to do everything we can to advise and guide customers even better. For many people, building means stress. By unburdening them in every way, I want to take that pressure off them. A strong relationship of trust, a good understanding, guidance from the very first contact, there is a lot of value in that. Building should just be something fun.'
For more information visit www.dammebouw.be