The origin of Cremer goes back to 1948. Fred Cremer ‘senior’ (the current owner’s father) worked at a car garage in Amsterdam and a lot of flower bulb growers went there for service and repairs of their cars. These cars were mainly American, and many parts were hard to get just after the war. A lot of inventiveness was necessary to keep these cars running. The skills of Fred Cremer were noticed by some of the flower bulb growers. They asked him if he wanted to invent a flower bulb counting machine because, every year, hundreds of people counted the flower bulbs by hand. Besides the high costs, it was also a very boring job and a lot of mistakes were made.
It intrigued Fred Cremer so much that he did some research into what was, for him, a new world. In the autumn of 1948 he started with the first draft. With his first sketches, he went to a Foundation that provided money for new developments in the flower bulb industry. Unfortunately, the design was dismissed with the message that various technical universities and other research institutions had been doing research on this subject. The conclusion of these studies was that automatic counting would never succeed! The challenge was now even bigger for Fred Cremer.
Through an uncle, Cremer came into contact with an engineering factory in Groningen. This factory could appreciate his enthusiasm. He was allowed to further develop his design and then build the machine. In October 1949 the first 10-channel linear flower bulb counting machine was demonstrated to the market. The introduction of this machine, which was completely electro-mechanical, was a resounding success. In two days he sold 30 machines. This was the start of the Cremer company.
Looking for C’s
The first counting machines that were produced in Groningen had to be delivered to the bulb area located about 250 km from there. To be at hand if problems should occur, Fred was forced to stay in the bulb growing region. He hired a room in the middle of the flower bulb area during the flower season. At that time few people had telephones. He therefore arranged with the customers that, if problems occurred, then they would place a pole in the garden with a large ‘C’ on it. For weeks Fred travelled throughout the bulb area looking for ‘C’s!
Cremer Office Of Mechanization
Because Fred Cremer went into the companies he got more and more insight into the flower bulb industry. He saw that many operations could be automated and so, in the course of time, he developed many new products and put them on the market. Examples included: inspection belts, special Paternoster elevators, crate lifts etc. Many of these products are still used today in the flower bulb industry. In the early ‘50s the company name was changed to “Cremer Office of Mechanization”.
All the products Cremer brought to the marketplace were produced at the company in Groningen. Fred Cremer lived there too, but now he also had a family. In order not to miss them during the flower bulb season he moved with the family to the flower bulb area during the summer. This was not very practical and in 1958 he and the family decided to move permanently from Groningen to the flower bulb area.
They bought a house with a large garage. There, Fred Cremer was able to continue his new developments. In 1963 the first electronic counting machine was brought to the market. Because of this machine the possibilities for counting machines were increased enormously. Manufacturing in Groningen was also no longer very practical. In 1967 Cremer rented a shed in Noordwijkerhout where he could build his machines closer to home. A number of staff were recruited and the first production machines were purchased.
The little shed was soon too small and in 1972 Cremer bought an old bulb barn in Lisse which was converted into an engineering factory. This way there was even more space for new developments such as: crate stackers, packaging machines especially for the flower bulb industry, card stapling machines, etc.
Meanwhile, the Cremer company made a cautious step into other industries such as confectionery and steel. The name ‘Cremer Office Of Mechanization’ changed in 1970 to ‘Cremer Speciaalmachines B.V.’. In 1978, Fred Cremer ‘junior’ (the current owner) started working in the business. Gradually, Cremer also developed machinery for new industries as well as flower bulbs. In 1979 Cremer bought a piece of land on the opposite side of the road of the existing factory onto which a new building was constructed.
The expansion into new industries proved to be successful. Other sectors that needed to count their products where found. Soon, companies in the pharmaceutical, hardware, frozen foods, soap and bakery industries came to Cremer.
After the takeover by Fred Cremer junior in 1985, a number of activities for the bulb industry were rejected. This way, the company could concentrate on the development and manufacture of counting and packaging systems. Production processes were simplified in order to handle the demand for these systems for various industries. Investment in more modern manufacturing machine tools and technology was made and, for example, in 1986 a laser cutting machine (the second one in the Netherlands) was purchased and, not much later, the first CNC machines were purchased.
In 1990 Cremer Development B.V. was established. The purpose of this company was the continuous development of new mechanical and electronic solutions for counting and packaging systems. This department is nowadays still an important factor in the company.
In 1998 Cremer Services B.V. was established. This company focused entirely on providing service to the machines manufactured by Cremer Speciaalmachines B.V. A year later Cremer Services moved into a newly built building in Noordwijkerhout where they could carry out their work independently.
Eventually, both offices and factories were too small to meet the demand of machines. Meanwhile, a piece of land was purchased next to the existing Lisse factory to expand the business. In 2006, while Cremer was busy with plans for its expansion, the opportunity arose to take over the bankrupt Hachmang company. This expansion was very welcome, not only because there was more space for production, but also a further twenty skilled people could be adopted.
Cremer has proven itself worldwide to be a reliable partner for many companies to solve filling and packaging problems. The reliability of the systems and the still increasing brand awareness around the world ensures a growing demand for Cremer machines. This made the available space too tight in recent times and, therefore, in 2008 a plan was set up for the construction of a new Head Office and a new manufacturing centre.
The new Head Office has been in use since 2010 and during the course of 2015 the new production facility has been put into service. With over 13,000 square meters and provided with the latest technologies, Cremer offers an unique working environment for its personnel.
From the Dutch flower bulb region to world wide
What makes Cremer unique in the packaging world is that it keeps the entire production process, from development to production, in-house. Sales and consulting, development of the mechanisation and electronics, engineering, mechanical manufacturing, electrics and electronics, assembly and service: all this is done in-house. Despite the fact that the company has grown considerably over the years, the base of Cremer remains a family business where teamwork is a high priority.
For almost everything that needs to be packed or counted, Cremer can make a machine. If a business with a product wants to have a counting machine that can count exactly then Cremer designs and builds the desired machine. Both small and large companies (such as Nestlé, Unilever and Henkel) work with Cremer counting machines. The market for Cremer reaches literally all corners of the world. The Head Office, manufacturing and service are located close to each other in Holland. Additionally, Cremer has a sales office in Great Britain and Ireland and an extensive network of distributors and agents around the world.
Manufacturers demand more and more control of their end product. To meet this, higher demands are also required and need to be developed on the machines. Because Cremer is continuously responsive to the new demands and requirements of its customers, the marketplace is also growing every year. For this reason Cremer is continuously looking for new employees to join the team.