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When Lowie Schaubroeck (33) and Noémie Lebon (37) took over her father’s IT company in 2015, entrepreneurship was still new to them, even though it’s clearly in the Lebon family’s blood. The entrepreneurial couple have increasingly gone their own way in recent years and have developed a strong vision for the future of Lebon IT Services. The business reviews of their account manager/accountant at Titeca Accountancy, Charlotte Vanthuyne, are a valuable guide to them.
From washing machines to IT
Noémie isn’t the first entrepreneur in the Lebon family. Her grandfather ran an electronics business and sold white and brown goods to shops and private persons. His three sons, including Noémie’s father, joined the business.
‘Computers had only just started coming on and after a while my father decided to start his own company. He first developed software together with a couple of friends. After a while, each went their own way and my father started Lebon Benelux, a company that mainly focused on software for the transportation industry. My mother, Ingrid Vermeulen, was primarily in charge of administration.’
Noémie’s father sold his business in the nineties and set up a new company: Lebon IT Services.
‘With this company he exclusively focused on everything that had to do with IT infrastructure. Now we no longer develop anything. Some employees made the transition to the new company and my mother continued to take care of the administration.’
Math genius who started at the bottom in the stockroom
Lowie soon came into the picture. By then, he and Noémie had been in a relationship for a couple of years.
‘I had done a master’s programme in mathematics, but I knew that I wanted to do something else. Already during my studies I did all kinds of chores at my father-in-law’s company, from working in the stockroom to delivering computer monitors.’
In the meantime, Noémie successively started working as a teacher and later in the banking industry, but she couldn’t really find her niche.
‘When my parents offered us to join their business, we didn’t hesitate. I’ve learned everything from my mother and Charlotte, our account manager at Titeca Accountancy.’
Lowie also started at the bottom. ‘For six years, I became acquainted with every aspect of the company, step by step. I soon discovered that the IT business is a dynamic and fascinating industry.’
Titeca Accountancy, a full-service company with lots of expertise
Titeca Accountancy is much more than an accountancy agency for Lowie and Noémie. They also regularly call on one of our in-house experts. For example, our office manager Barbara Sergeant helped them set up a new car policy, while also gladly sharing her own experience.
‘We often ask for ad hoc advice. This ranges from questions about recruitment and our SME portfolio to analyses of our figures and legal matters. Titeca Accountancy truly is a full-service company. When Noémie was on maternity leave, a Titeca employee temporarily took over. This is quite exceptional and a fine example of our close cooperation and good understanding.’
Remarkably, Titeca Accountancy is also one of IT Lebon Services’s customers. ‘Moreover, Friede, GDPR expert at Titeca, gave, on our request, two lectures to local police services, an important customer group of Lebon IT Services. A great collaboration.’
‘When we took over the company in 2015, Titeca Accountancy quickly arranged the family takeover. Titeca thought along with us. They also took care of the negotiations with the bank. Mark De Moor and Charlotte had always been regular contacts of my parents and now of us. I enjoy working with them. They always keep a clear head, also during inspections.’
Organic growth, a business that is run on the basis of objective parameters
Like Titeca Accountancy, Noémie and Lowie’s company is experiencing considerable growth.
‘On my request, we sit together with Charlotte at Titeca for our business review on a quarterly basis. This always generates valuable information and a clear insight. Now we’re at a turning point. My father-in-law had an excellent gut feeling, thanks to which the company was able to grow organically. Now I also dare to do my own thing, while still taking into account objective parameters and goals that I determine together with Charlotte. She makes sure we don’t grow too quickly and closely monitors the margins we can invest.
‘Our focus is still on helping medium-sized organisations with the development and management of their IT infrastructure and cloud-based solutions. We make sure their company can keep running, without having to worry about their IT. The local police service is an important customer: we are responsible for the IT in 85 police zones across Flanders. But we also like working for SMEs and we invest a great deal in attracting new customers in 2020. In addition, we invest in the automation of certain processes and further specialisation of our employees. The IT market is rapidly evolving. What was new yesterday, is old today. The challenge is to keep track of everything.’
Dynamic business manager
Meanwhile, Lowie and Noémie have learned that giving responsibility to their employees is important if they want to keep growing. That’s no luxury for a family with two young daughters.
‘We don’t always find the time to practice sports and to enjoy our hobbies. That’s important to us, considering we’re both bon vivants. As former scout members, we invest a lot of time in maintaining our social network.’
Besides, Lowie organises a festival in the city of Roeselare: Plein Publique. ‘I’m probably overdoing things, but it’s also invigorating.’
Do they have any tips for young entrepreneurs?
‘We started from a luxury position. We took over a flourishing company. We didn’t really experience the typical difficult years of a young starter. We know that it’s important to sometimes take a leap in the dark. We still often run our business too carefully. Our tip: cash is king! As an entrepreneur, you’ll always benefit from keeping track of your cash flow. Make your invoices in time and monitor payments closely. Otherwise, you will get in trouble quickly, definitely during your start-up period.’
'Our tip: cash is king! As an entrepreneur you benefit from keeping an eye on your cash flow. Prepare your invoices on time and follow up on payments. Otherwise, especially during a start-up period, you will quickly run into problems. "