The history of BDR Thermea Foundation
The Foundation, created in 1982 by Andries van Reekum, is committed owner of initially Remeha, and today BDR Thermea Group. The roots of the Group and Foundation go all the way back to the 1910s.
Founded by Gerard van Reekum
1935 in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands
Roots in plumbing and bicycles
Gerard van Reekum was a man with clear vision and talent for business.
In the 1910s, during the industrial revolution, he set up his first business. Starting as a bicycle shop and later a plumbing company focusing on installing central heating systems.
Van Reekum’s Metaalhandel – a true family business
Soon after, in 1924, Gerard van Reekum established his next business, Van Reekum’s Metaalhandel.
The business model – selling steel pipes and fittings for the heating industry – was a true family business. The predecessor of Remeha quickly established itself as a frontrunner in the Netherlands to focus on selling central heating boilers. Around the same time, brand name ‘Remeha’ was first introduced.
Ups & downs, but continued focus on central heating
The economic depression forced Van Reekum to cease his business activities early 1935.
Despite major setbacks, he continued to believe in the future of central heating. That same year, Gerard van Reekum founded G. van Reekum’s Technisch Handelsbureau, which was later renamed in Remeha. He developed a comprehensive range of boilers run on oil, natural gas, and solid fuels. And was able to bring the Remeha brand over from his previous company.
Van Reekum’s Legacy passed on to his sons
Van Reekum laid the foundation for two successful companies: Van Reekum Metalen NV and Remeha Fabrieken NV.
He later passed both companies on to Van Reekum’s sons Anton and Andries. By the end of the 1940s, the first iron foundry was built, with a full production facility for boilers.
New generation but same drive
From 1954, with the same energy as his father, Andries van Reekum managed Remeha.
The company further developed, driven by strong economic growth. All profits generated were invested in the company’s R&D and scaling up. To further support the growth, Gerard’s brother Jan Richard Sr. provided additional capital.
Adapting to energy transition
When large Dutch natural gas reserves were found, it brought about great changes.
In only four years, the whole country would be connected to natural gas supplies. Andries quickly recognized an opportunity and acted swiftly. He succeeded and his company became a key player in that energy transition.
Frontrunner in high-efficiency boilers
In the 1970s, fuel efficiency became increasingly important.
And as a consequence of the energy crisis of 1973 and 1978, gas became significantly more expensive. Remeha started to develop high-efficiency boilers, known as ‘HR ketels’, becoming one of the first companies to launch the boilers in the European market. With great success.
In 1982, Andries van Reekum and his cousin Jan Richard Jr. decided to ensure the continuity of the company.
They decided to hand over all Remeha shares to the Foundation, Stichting Aandelen Remeha. The Foundation’s charter highlights to ensure the company’s continuity and employees’ interests. A dedicated seat on the Foundation’s board is reserved for the Van Reekum family.
Increasing focus on environment and export growth
In the 1990s, more attention was paid to environmental effects of heating.
Remeha responded by investing heavily in R&D and improving the efficiency of boilers. European export grew significantly, and the question was raised whether the company needed to scale up to survive in a rapidly globalizing world.
Building a top European player
In 2004, Remeha joined forces with the French powerhouse De Dietrich Thermique to form the De Dietrich Remeha Group.
Five years later, the Baxi Group, a major player in the UK, was acquired by the newly formed company, resulting in the BDR Thermea Group. It became a top 3 player in the European market and other emerging markets. The Group pursues a multi-branded approach including other cross-border brands Brötje, Oertli, and Chapée. The Foundation remained major shareholder after these mergers, and became sole shareholder of BDR Thermea Group in 2011.
Accelerating the energy transition
BDR Thermea Group has made further strategic acquisitions, including Baymak in 2013, a leading provider of solar thermal plants in Turkey and the Spanish company Hitecsa, specializing in commercial and industrial climate systems in 2021.
Together with BDR Thermea Foundation, the Group is continuing the promotion of clean energy technology and training of future engineers. The Foundation is looking forward to accelerating the energy transition through a range of projects.