Lebon IT Services: head in the cloud, feet on the ground.
When Lowie Schaubroeck (33) and Noémie Lebon (37) took over her father's IT company in 2015, entrepreneurship was still new to them, although it is clearly in the Lebon family's blood. In recent years, the entrepreneurial couple increasingly went their own way and developed a strong vision for the future for Lebon IT Services. The business reviews of Charlotte Vanthuyne, their accountant/bookkeeper at Titeca, have been a golden guide.
From washing machines to ICT
Noémie is not the first entrepreneurial Lebon. Her grandfather ran an electrical store and sold white and brown goods to stores and individuals. The three sons, including Noémie's father, joined the business.
'Computers were just starting to take off then and after a while my father decided to start his own company. First he developed software with some friends. After a while, they went their separate ways and my father founded Lebon Benelux, which mainly produced software for the transport sector. My mother, Ingrid Vermeulen, was mainly in charge of administration.'
In the 1990s, father Lebon sold his business and created a new company: Lebon IT Services.
'With this, he focused exclusively on everything related to IT infrastructure. We no longer do any development. A few employees made the transition to the new company and my mother continued to take care of the administration.'
Math node in the warehouse, at the bottom of the ladder
Soon Lowie came into the picture. He had been in a relationship with Noémie for several years by then.
I was studying for a master's degree in mathematics, but I knew I wanted to do something else. Even during my studies, I was doing all kinds of odd jobs in my father-in-law's company, from warehouse work to supplying computer screens.'
Noémie, meanwhile, went to work successively as a teacher and later in the banking sector, but she didn't quite find her niche there.
'When my parents came up with the offer to step into the business with me, we didn't hesitate for long. I learned everything from my mother and from Charlotte, our file clerk at Titeca.'
Lowie also started at the bottom of the ladder. 'For six years I got to know every aspect of the business, step by step. I quickly discovered that IT is a dynamic, exciting sector.'
Lowie: "I will never regret two choices: taking over my parents-in-law's business and my marriage to Noémie.
Titeca, a full-service office, filled to the brim with experts
Titeca is much more than an accountancy office for Lowie and Noémie. They also regularly call on the experts in house. For example, office manager Barbara Sergeant helped set up a new car policy, and she was happy to share her own experiences.
We regularly ask for ad hoc advice. It's very broad, from questions about recruitment and the SME portfolio to analyses of the figures and legal matters.
Titeca is truly a full-service office, we notice that in everything. When Noémie took three months of maternity leave, a Titeca employee temporarily replaced her. Exceptional, and a great example of our close cooperation and good rapport.'
Of particular note is that Titeca is also a customer of IT Lebon Services. 'Moreover, their GDPR expert, brought two lectures for local police forces, a large customer group of Lebon IT Services. A great collaboration.'
Organic growth, running the store with objective parameters
Like Titeca, Noémie and Lowie's company is experiencing strong growth.
'At my request, we currently sit down with Charlotte at Titeca on a quarterly basis for a business review, one that always provides valuable information and insights. We are at a tipping point. My father-in-law had an incredibly good gut feeling, which allowed the company to grow organically. I now dare to do my own thing more, but with objective parameters and targets that I set together with Charlotte. She helps us make sure we don't grow too fast and keeps a close eye on our margins for investment.
'It remains our focus to help medium-sized organizations build and manage their IT infrastructure and cloud solutions. We make sure that the store is running, that they don't have to worry about their ICT. The local police is an important customer: we take care of the IT for 85 police zones all over Flanders. But we are also very happy to work for SMEs, and in 2020 we will be investing heavily in attracting new customers. We are also investing in automating certain processes and further specializing our employees. The IT market is evolving rapidly. What was new yesterday is already old today. The challenge is to jump on the train every time.
Case manager without a sitting hole
In the meantime, Lowie and Noémie are learning that giving responsibility to employees is important for the continued growth of the company. With two young daughters in the house, this is certainly no superfluous luxury.
'We don't always have enough time to do sports and pursue our hobbies. That's important to us; we're both hedonists. As former Scouts, we put a lot of time into maintaining our social network.'
Lowie also organizes a festival in Roeselare: Plein Publique. 'I may be doing too much, but also get a lot of energy out of it.'
Whether they have any tips for young entrepreneurs?
'We ourselves started from a position of luxury. We took over a flourishing company. We did not really experience the typical difficult years of a start-up. We know that courage is important. We are often too well-behaved when it comes to entrepreneurship.