Exploring our origins at IGW

18 June, 2020

In order to find out where we are going as a company, it is important to consider where we come from. Indeed, knowing your origins will give you a clearer sense of purpose. In that light, we have decided to elaborate on the origin of IGW and how we have grown over the years from a one-man business to the global player we are today.


Heeding parental advice


IGW was founded by Alfons Watteeuw in 1949 after his father, Henri, had persuaded him to venture into entrepreneurship. Henri Watteeuw was a teacher in various technical colleges as well as Technical Director for the VTI in Bruges, a school for science and engineering. He boasted a wide knowledge of engineering, having written a total of 14 books about engineering for educational purposes. On top of that, Henri was also a popular speaker for educational as well as engineering institutions.


Alfons, meanwhile, had developed a fondness for model trains and soon discovered that his talents lie in science and mathematics. For that reason, Henri encourages him to attend his technical college. In 1948, Henri convinces his son, Alfons, of the benefits of entrepreneurship in the niche market of, for instance, gears or mould design. After all, in the first post-Second World War years, German machinery is relatively cheap and Alfons possesses sufficient knowledge and skill to start his own company.



Old picture at the start of IGW company

Blossoming towards success


Family has always been important to us. What’s more, it’s the bedrock of our company. That’s why Alfons was always eager to see his brothers join him in his professional activities. Three years into the adventure, Watteeuw Alfons (as the company is named at the time) is growing into a successful business. From that moment on, we continued to grow as a well-known and much-appreciated gear manufacturer. In this whole process, we always stuck to the principles defined by Henri, Alfons’ father: striving to always deliver only prime-quality, openness towards our employees and customers and searching for eager employees. Those principles have helped us to blossom into what we are now: specialists in our niche market.



Former King Albert visits IGW

Over the years, Alfons sees the company continue to grow and evolve into a place where quality is the norm and in which employees are more “co-workers”, all concerned with making “Watteeuw” (the specialist in gears) as successful as possible. In 1992, BMT starts the process that will see them gain total ownership of IGW. Under this new stewardship, the business continues to do well, thanks to expansion abroad and keeping the company philosophy at heart.



gear artwork

Leading the line


Our unrelenting drive for excellence means that we have always strived to create a better product. That has seen us persuade several machinery manufacturers to adapt their products to our exceeding standards. As a consequence, this has allowed us to become a more reliable and credible partner to our customers. Aside from that, we also have to commend the formidable effort from everyone in our big family. A great story has already been written and it’s up to all of us to continue it.