celebrating 90 years Veco | 1934-1964

from past to future: our dynamic history

1994 - 2024

to be continued..

2024 - future

to be continued..

1934 - 1964: "The Pioneering Years"

1934 - 1940

the start of Veco

Veco’s history started in the year 1934. This was the year Veco was established by 5 gentlemen: Beijnen, Van Dorp, Elfers, Van de Pol & Ter Horst). As a real start-up, the company had its office at the Bakkerstraat in Zutphen, where multiple smaller companies had their office.

Electroforming was a rising technology in the 1930s. The “founding fathers” of Veco saw the possibilities and potential of this technology and that’s how at that time the “N.V. Vereeniging Industrieel Bezit 65” started. This was the original trade name for the company. Electroforming is shaping a mandrel by using a galvanic process. It became clear that besides the electroforming process, the development of a stable mandrel is essential as well. Embracing electroforming was the start of the technology that Veco nowadays is still known for. The company was called the “Sieveplate factory” at this time.

Ir. L. Beijnen, one of the founders. 

The first Veco years were characterized by several issues that belonged to starting companies. The notion started that professionalism was needed to make the next step as a company. This is also the time the current company name was found: Veco. Veco stands for “Verenigde Electro-Chemische Ondernemingen”, meanwhile a name which is well-known in the world of micro-precision.

Besides having a new name, Veco also moved to Loenen during this period. They continued the business in an 80-square-meter building. This building contained a production space, a laboratory, and a small office space. These different departments are characteristic of Veco, where close collaboration takes place between development and production.

Veco’s first product was a so-called “microzeefplaat”, a combination of a perforated plate and very fine sieve mesh. This product was revolutionary for this period and took away all the negative side effects of these two existing products. Veco’s first value proposition was born.   

Innovative power is one of Veco’s early key strengths. Before the Second World War, Veco had already filed multiple patent requests. One of the patents was for the making of an X-ray screen. A copper plate was provided with a lead coating. This product was used to block X-rays.  This is where the first connection became visible with the medical industry. An industry where we still play a big role and for which we produce essential products. 

Besides that, a patent for a sieve with a hardened work surface was filed. This development is still visible in the products Veco produces today. All the sieves that are manufactured for the centrifuges in the sugar industry are provided with a chrome layer to improve the hardness of the product, and with that the lifetime. An example of an innovation still visible 70 years after its existence.

1941 - 1945

a black page in the history of Veco

Veco in the Second World War, was a turbulent time and a dark period. The products produced by Veco were very important for the Germans, with some of the sieves they could sieve water and fuel, which was very beneficial for the airplane engines. Before these sieves could be used, more development work was needed, but Laurens Beijnen, one of the founders of Veco, was not willing to cooperate and tried to come up with several reasons not to proceed with the development of this sieve. For example shortage of coal and no available electricity, but everything was solved by the occupier. Therefore, some of the commissioners insisted on delivering the sieves, so the factory could keep running.

Eventually, a sieve was developed with success and transferred to the Germans. Some of the re-deliveries were delayed and blocked by Veco, which led to a grim relationship with the occupiers. To prevent people from being arrested, the full employee base of Veco goes into hiding. Therefore, in 1943 production was fully stopped. Part of the factory was burned to ashes and a lot of important documents have been lost.

Laurens Beijnen, one of the founders of Veco, has joined the resistance in the meantime. Right before the Netherlands was liberated, Medio April 1945, he was arrested, tortured, and even executed. Only two days before the actual liberation. After the war, Mr. Beijnen posthumously received the resistance cross from then-Queen Juliana.    

The Resistance Cross awarded to Mr Beijnen

1946 - 1948

reconstruction of Veco

This was a huge loss, but behind Mr. Beijnen stands a powerful woman, Margaret Beijnen – McCullough Patten Yeaman, whom he married in 1925, she decided that Veco had to be continued! Several months after the liberation a commissioner’s meeting was held, and the decision was made to start again. This was not easy, because a lot of the important documentation was lost during the war. Led by Technical Director Laurens Teepe Veco started to re-invent the processes and production steps, partly derived from patents which where filed by Mr. Beijnen and Mr. Van Dorp.  A lot of commitment and creativity was needed, but very quickly they had success and production could be restarted. Mister Teepe also was involved in several product developments. As you can read, there was perseverance, strength, and a very long breath needed to re-invent everything that was lost. These characteristics are still visible at Veco nowadays.

In 1946, it was decided to move the company from Loenen to Eerbeek. Part of the existing laundry facility of Bernard Slijkhuis was rented, 700 square meter workspace located at the Karel van Gelreweg. Sourcing raw materials was a big issue during this time. A lot of electricity, copper, and nickel was needed for the electroforming process. They were even using an emergency transformer which was used during the war. The growth of the company was difficult and went very slow. During this period, a large part of the products were made by hand. Attentiveness and accuracy were therefore very important. Nowadays still important at Veco.

Because of an unexpected big order, a lot of new personnel was needed. These were recruited from companies close to Veco. When the workload was less, the employees were asked to do different work outside of Veco. Employees who didn’t work full-time were even asked if their salary could be transferred one week later.

In combination with the unstable production process and therefore less attention to developments and market research, Veco decided to hire a marketing expert in 1946 in the field of filtration. One of the fast conclusions was that the cost price had to be brought down with 1/3. The mandrels which were being used by Veco had to become better and more durable. During this period the definition of durable was very different compared to what it is today.

In 1947 Veco started its sales organization, with representatives in Holland and abroad. The goal was to have consistent production and revenue streams, followed by appointing a commercial director in 1948. These developments enabled more room for development, but it was very hard to find technically skilled personnel. To stimulate existing employees to deliver excellent products, a premium system was implemented.

The old Veco logo on writing paper

1949 - 1956

the first growth at Veco

The period after the war was characterized by continued technological developments and a strong growth in the number of customers. So it became that in 1949 “continuous electroforming” was invented. Through a new machine with 32 baths, Veco should be able to produce long pieces of sieve plate all at once. When fully used, the machine would have a capability of 100.000 square meters. Revolutionary at that time, but time was needed to realize this machine to its full potential.

The 50s were characterized by the development of several different types of products. This is when they developed cylindrical textile templates and sieves which were being used in the potato factories. So Veco indirectly played a role in the provision of clothing and food.

To be able to produce mandrels via a lithographic process, a mask is needed. During this period, this mask was a black-and-white film. Smaller products were first photographed on a small piece of black and white film. Followed by copying this piece on a vertical strip, which was called repeating. Finally, these strips were mounted onto a square meter. It was due to this technology, that Veco was able to produce many products very economically. This technology was successfully used at Veco until the turn of the century.

Cylindrical textile templates

Handwritten price list of Veco from the 1950s

A copper mandrel with a light-sensitive coating was exposed to UV light by using the created film. After that, the mandrel had to be developed. Second, the plate was being etched, the coating removed and the etched dimples filled again with a coating that was resistant to chemical baths, this was called “diepankering”. Finally, the growth process could be done, where nickel was being deposited on the mandrel to grow layers of nickel. At that time, Veco was already able to pause this process, harvest the product from the mandrel, and then proceed with the growth process. This is called the Veco process, which is still part of the Veco portfolio in 2024.

The sieves are valued because of their quality, despite the premium price that had to be paid. The sieves were less sensitive to clogging, easy to clean, and quite chemically resistant. Much more hygienic compared to the sieves that were being used for the milk filtration at that time. The revenue is growing slowly, but profit is hardly being made. The cost and financing are a concern. To market the product better, a folder with the type of sieves and their prices is being made.

The 50s and 60s were characterized by multiple product developments. These developments found their way into several different industries and markets. For example, tobacco ribbons, tobacco tubes, sieves for coal, and products for the optical industry. Nowadays there is still a lot of variety in products produced by Veco.

Unfortunately, not all developments were a success. That’s where the Veco DNA of don’t give up and always keep going started. Also became clear that product developments take quite some time to become a success. During these development projects a clear pattern became visible. Several production iterations are needed and are being tested. These tests most often lead to product modifications, and so the process starts again at the beginning. This iterative way of co-development is still very relevant in 2024.

1957 - 1964

a new professionalization step for Veco

De developments of the textile templates in the early 50s slowly started to grow and this expresses itself in cooperation with Stork. A cooperation that will stay visible within Veco for quite some time. Veco also expanded further during the early 60s. Existing buildings are being renovated and new buildings are being built. First, in 1961 a new office building, followed by a new production area for the galvanizing process. A next step into professionalization for Veco.

This marks the end of the first 30 years of Veco, a period that is characterized as a turbulent time.