Discover Benelux | Dutch Design | Made in the Netherlands
Dutch timber in a German town TEXT: BAS VAN DUREN | PHOTOS: H. OUDE HENGEL GMBH
Having been in their family for four generations, the story of sawmill and wood trader H. Oude Hengel GmbH in Gildehaus, Germany, is a remarkable one. Run by Dutch brothers Valentijn and Douwe Oude Hengel, the company is one of the largest wood specialists in the area, fitted with top-notch machinery, drying rooms and the wood that passes through Oude Hengel is of the legal kind. What started in the previous century as a sawmill, café, grocery and bakery all at once in the Dutch town of Ootmarsum, is that what H. Oude Hengel is today in Gildehaus, just across the German border. The brothers wanted to expand the mill, but did not have the room for that, whereas Gildehaus in Germany could provide the space. Douwe Oude Hengel: “A move we never regretted. The only worry we had was how our clients would react to us moving away, but we kept all of them.” Nowadays the sawmill and wood trader has 23,000 square metres to work with 40 | Issue 47 | November 2017
and processes more than 7,000 cubic metres of timber each year, mostly oak and Douglas fir. Douwe Oude Hengel: “There’s not much we can’t do here, from sawing wood to exactly what you want to mortises and tenons. Our in-house drafter can help you with the realisation of your project.” The projects Oude Hengel mentions are rural properties and hay barracks, but also modern houses that require façade cladding. Ask Douwe if he has any favourite projects and he is quick with an answer: “I loved creating the entrance booth of a rollercoaster in a nearby theme park.” All the timber that H. Oude Hengel processes is PEFC and FSC certified, meaning none of what comes in the sawmill is illegal wood. Douwe Oude Hengel: “Unfortunately, illegally acquired wood from tropical regions is still a thing, but we only use the best wood from forests in Germany, Belgium and France.” With their timber being used for the furniture and floor industry, Douwe Oude Hengel starts to grin when asked if all of the furniture at his
home comes from his own company. “I think it does, yes. Definitely my children’s beds.” Will one of them or Valentijn’s become H. Oude Hengel’s fifth generation? Douwe smiles: “That is very likely.”
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