Simone van Putten, the CEO of Flash, talks about the 25th anniversary of ‘her’ Flash
This year marks Flash’s 25th anniversary and that calls for a celebration! Simone van Putten is one of the company’s founders and started the two-way radio rental company in 1996, simply because there was demand from the market. The company Verolme Botlek was the instigator, and after conducting extensive research it turned out that there was a great deal of demand for the temporary deployment of communication equipment in a number of sectors, including the industrial sector. Now, 25 years later, the company has become a system integrator in the mission-critical communications sector in Belgium and the Netherlands.
The focus is on good relationship management in which Flash, as a dedicated partner, contributes to the success of its customers. Simone’s ambition is to offer her customers the best technological solutions by combining the strong brands of the Flash Connectivity Group. Keep reading in the interview below about Simone’s vision of the future, developments, choices, focus and the life lessons she has learned in recent years!
When you look back at 25 years of Flash, what has been the most important development?
Simone: “The most important development in the past 25 years has been the decision to expand our services. In the first years, we positioned our company as a professional rental company of (ATEX) two-way radios and radio communication networks. We wanted to perfect this service before exploring other options. After a few years, we had a good idea of how we wanted to develop further and, above all, what the customers needed. This consideration has been crucial and has made us who we are today as an integrator, with a continued focus on flexibility for temporary deployment and rental, of course.”
What are you most proud of?
“That in ten years’ time, we have acquired the position of market leader in the private sector and have managed to maintain this position. Our strength is our service. It has always been optimised in consultation with our customers and we will keep doing this. How can we make their work even more efficient and easier? Our services can only be truly successful thanks to the enormous commitment and motivation of our employees. They are basically the reason for our success. Most of all, never get cocky once you have achieved success, but rather remain critical because there is always room for improvement. We constantly update our range of services in order to set ourselves apart from the competition, because the biggest danger is stagnation.”
You are the driving force behind the company’s success; what’s the source of your energy and creativity?
“I’ve learned to tackle whatever comes my way immediately, to never let things be pushed to the sidelines. I am very action- and solution-oriented; that gives me energy. I also believe in good communication. Also, if there happens to be a dissatisfied customer or a conflict with a supplier or an employee, I immediately engage in conversation, no matter how difficult it may be. Often, when you start talking to each other, you actually discover beautiful things. Good communication and addressing issues directly works very well for me.”
What path has Flash taken and what lessons have you learned in the past 25 years?
“My grandmother always said: you’re never too old to learn and I often remember her. Not a day goes by without learning something. When I started Flash, I was an account manager specialised in telecommunications and still had to learn everything about running a business. I don’t have a degree so I’ve learned entrepreneurship through experience. I have continued to develop myself as a result of all the things that have come my way. Together with my former business partner, we set up the company and I had to get to know all aspects of an organisation. If I didn’t know something, I asked for advice from family, friends or specialists; often I just followed my gut. As for the people part of my work, I mainly treated others the way I would like to be treated myself, which has always been my starting position. Whenever things came up, I always thought, how would I feel about that? This is how I was able to build Flash, and with an enthusiastic team we have grown from a two-way radio rental company to a system integrator.”
What will the focus be in the coming years?
“We are the market leader in mission-critical communication and have so much in-house expertise that we can solve every radio communication issue at the highest level. In addition to our focus on working safely, we also want to focus on working more efficiently in the coming years, because our customers’ needs have also changed. In order to maintain their right to exist, they have to cut costs so that they can stay ahead of the competition with the East, for example. As a result, they are constantly looking for ways to work even more efficiently, and this is only possible by adding technology to the processes. Not only do we want to contribute to that, actually, my wish is to play a major role in it. With our knowledge of radio communication and our proven service, we are also the best partner in the transition to mission- and business-critical communication and business-secure information networks.
Furthermore, we want to stay focused on flexibility, which we offer from our rental pool with its 25,000 two-way radios, smart devices and communication networks. This gives our customers the opportunity to scale up at any time: from one day to ten years and from one to one thousand items. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the logistics world was turned upside down and factories were closed for long periods, leaving materials in short supply. With our rental pool, we can always offer a quick solution to ensure the continuity of our customers’ business processes.
Our strength lies exactly in the combination of our role as system integrator of critical communication and information networks, and as the largest provider of communication solutions in the Netherlands and Belgium.”
What developments do you see for Flash in critical communication?
“Professional users want a single device that allows them to perform all tasks safely and efficiently. Their work must be faster but also smarter, and valuable time may never be wasted because the exchange of information is not working. We see many processes being improved by the use of convenient real-time applications. Connectivity with a high level of availability; that’s the future! We have to support the customer’s issue through technology and secure and manage it 24/7. That is our role. The customer wants to be able to perform various tasks and work smartly, efficiently and safely using a single device.”
In the light of the Industrial Internet of Things and digitalisation, where will Flash be in 25 years?
“In the past 25 years, developments have moved incredibly fast. People want to be able to reach each other faster, in real time, and have access to relevant information. I think that in 25 years we will be living in a world where a lot is based on AI (Artificial Intelligence) where everyone, based on their role or function, will have the most relevant data available to them in real time. The world will undergo massive changes and this will also have an impact on the business market.”
What do you think of Flash’s corporate slogan – the art of clear communication – in the new era?
“The art of clear communication will become the art of understanding. One of our strategic goals is to increasingly understand our customers as valuable, equal partners. If we want to understand our customers even better, we must engage in even more dialogue to discover how we can contribute to the efficiency of their business processes. Not waiting for them to ask you a question, but starting a dialogue and cooperating, and defining the question yourself. This is when you add value and our right to exist is preserved. That’s what we call the Art of Clear Communication.”
How will Flash celebrate its 25th anniversary?
“We are definitely not going to miss out on this moment. For me personally, it’s a fantastic milestone: in 25 years, we have built such a beautiful, professional and healthy company, with a very strong and stable team and a customer base that’s just as strong. This can only be achieved with a collective effort; we are doing it together. This is a year to be proud of who we are and I get to celebrate it with my customers, our partners and employees. Success is something to be shared, and I especially want to discuss with them how we can stay successful in the next twenty-five years. We are celebrating our 25th anniversary with lots of different campaigns and small activities, and because of Corona we have decided to throw a great party at the end of this anniversary year.”
What are your personal wishes?
“My wish is that in the next five years, through the commitment and cooperation of our three strong brands 2Way, Flash and PrioCom, we will play a leading role and become the connectivity partner for our existing and new relations in all market segments where connectivity plays a role.
I also want to continue to do everything I can to remain a reliable employer. I think it’s important that people enjoy coming to work, that we achieve good results together and celebrate successes; that’s what makes my job so rewarding.”
25 years ago, Flash began as a pioneer in radio communication, renting out two-way radios. Soon afterwards, the sale and maintenance of critical radio communication solutions were added. Flash Private Mobile Networks (in the Netherlands and Belgium), 2WAY and PrioCom are part of the Flash Connectivity Group. The parent company facilitates services in the areas of management, finance, HR, business development, marketing and communications for its ‘subsidiaries’. “This organisational structure gives more room for innovation and growth and enables us to offer customers an even broader spectrum of communication and information solutions,” says FCG director and co-owner Simone van Putten.
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