50 Years of Kusters

50 years of Kusters: from a garden gate to the semiconductor industry

In 2023, Kusters is a significant player in the semiconductor industry. But how did Kusters originate and evolve into the company we know today? Former owner Jan Kusters takes us through the history.

50 years ago, Adriaan Kusters, Jan’s father, worked at Philips in Oss. In the evenings, he dabbled in hobbies, making things like steps and garden gates, and even sharpening ice skates during the winter. Jan, as a 12-year-old, occasionally helped, and this early exposure to technology played a significant role in shaping his interests. After a while, the first real customer – someone who actually asked for an invoice – appeared, and the registration with the Chamber of Commerce became a reality. The small projects in the garage gradually turned into a full-blown hobby. In addition to Adriaan’s 40-hour workweek at Philips, he also worked around 60 hours per week at home. Soon, the garage became too small, and a move to a location on Saksenweg was in order. After completing his education at the technical school, Jan became Kusters’ first official employee at the age of 20, while Adriaan continued to work for Philips.

During the initial period, Adriaan would brief Jan in the mornings about what needed to be done that day before heading to work himself. Roles quickly reversed, with Jan informing his father in the evenings about customer calls and the next day’s plans. Kusters continued to grow, and after 42 years, Adriaan, at the age of 57, resigned from Philips to further expand the business alongside Jan. During this time, the company added approximately one employee per year, and it steadily grew its client base. Not only did local companies in Oss seek Kusters’ services, but businesses from the broader region also began to engage them, eventually even securing international clients.

Saving before spending
Jan’s parents always adhered to the principle of ‘save before you spend,’ and this approach served Kusters well. Even during the challenging years surrounding the 2008 financial crisis, the company continued to prosper, unlike many others in the industry. Jan Kusters noted, “In all these 50 years, we’ve never had to lay off anyone for economic reasons.”

Kusters continued to expand. In 1990, Jan bought out his father and partnered with Piet van Duijnhoven to lead the company. Jan and Piet jointly steered Kusters during a period of significant growth. Later, Jan reacquired Piet’s shares, and ten years ago, he had the opportunity to take over Wilting. At that time, Wilting was roughly three times the size of Kusters, making it seem like David was taking over Goliath. However, due to highly efficient operations, Kusters was considerably more profitable. Only one in five Kusters employees didn’t operate a machine, resulting in low overhead costs. Other companies were later added, forming the precursor of the Andra Tech Group as we know it today, with Kusters being a part of it.

Fresh soup every afternoon
One unique aspect of Kusters is that there has been very little turnover among the staff over the years. Mother Kusters played a crucial role in this regard. Until 1985, she ensured that fresh soup was served in the canteen every afternoon, a tradition that continues at Kusters on IJzerweg.

Now, Jan watches from the sidelines as Kusters continues to develop. He states, “I am delighted to see Kusters doing so well. Looking back on all the years I led Kusters, I am especially proud that we accomplished things that others wouldn’t dare to start. We managed to create prototypes and rush orders that other companies couldn’t replicate. While others came up with a hundred excuses why something couldn’t be done, we got to work to provide optimal service to our customers. For me, the customer always came first, and they determined what I did. That makes Kusters unique and a wonderful company to work for.”

“There are often a hundred excuses not to try something, but at Kusters, we get to work.”

“Achieving what others wouldn’t dare to start and doing it in a time frame that initially seemed impossible. These are the things I look back on with pride.”