Passion for spice cake since more than 150 years
For over 150 years, Vondelmolen has been an exciting and flourishing company with a passion for spice cake.
Learn all about our rich history!
1867: the beginning
Our rich history starts in 1867 when the Borms family buys the Vondelmolen in Lebbeke. A stone windmill next to the Vondelbeek that initially served as an oil mill to extract vegetable oil from seeds.
The mill was running well and just before the First World War the small factory was already equipped with a steam engine, a first sign of our commitment to innovation, something that we still embrace today. The Borms family bought land to expand the factory and the mill became a warehouse.
Almost the entire company was burned down s in 1915 and in the company’s garden people were even shot during this dark period. The mill was still standing, but was completely burned out and after the First World War almost nothing remained, except for the two horses that stood in the fields behind the factory.
The devastation was ernormous. What should the family do? How should the company continue?
In times of need, you get to know your real friends. Help came from Wieze, where the famous chocolate factory Callebaut was located. They spontaneously put carts at our disposal and so ensured that work could continue.
The two horses were put to work and from that moment on Jozef Borms decided to focus on the wholesale of bakery ingredients.
In gratitude for the solidarity after the destruction in World War I, the Borms family also started to invest in Callebaut’s chocolate company. One of the brothers, Clement Borms, even started working for the Callebaut factory.
And that was not the only cooperation that followed! August Vincke, a local baker from the nearby village Baasrode, was looking for a partner to automate and expand his production.
In the 1920s, Vondelmolen and Vincke started producing bakery products such as spice cake and rusks. They were distributed locally and the company employed about 20 people.
Vondelmolen invested in larger ovens and in trucks that could replace horses and carts. But just before World War II, the collaboration between the Borms and Vincke families came to an end. Borms continued to make spice cake with Vondelmolen and Vincke started a company in rusks and breadcrumbs in Appels.
WW II up to 1964
During the Second World War the activities needed to be scaled back. When manager Louis Borms died in 1942, his wife – Gabriëlle Vincke – immediately took over the management. She managed to lead Vondelmolen through a difficult period, but also started with the automation of the production process.
As a result, the capacity increased enormously. At the end of the 1950s, Vondelmolen started producing spice cake for wholesalers and supermarkets. But because the profit margins on spice cake are fairly low, it was mainly due to efficiency and innovation that the company was able to grow so fast.
1964 to 2004
In 1964, Gabriëlle handed over the management to her son Joz. Borms, the fourth generation. He further expanded the company, together with his wife Friede Dupont. Now the major modernization of the company really started.
From the 1960s, many spice cake bakeries in Flanders disappeared. The investments were too big for the smaller producers and Vondelmolen took over a few dozen spice cake bakeries to grow further. This growth allowed the company to purchase and produce on a larger scale. Cutting and packaging was now also more automatic and the capacity was greatly expanded:
- The first flour silos were installed, so the flour could be purchased in bulk and no longer had to be dragged around.
- Sugar was also supplied in bulk
- Clever automated cutting and packaging machines entered the company.
Anyone visiting Vondelmolen today sees a modern company where a great deal of attention is paid to innovation and sustainability. Yet it is still a real family business led by Jan Borms, the fifth generation steering Vondelmolen.
Today the factory has around 90 employees and annually produces around 7 million kilograms of spice cake in various varieties. The majority of our spice cake is exported, with France as our main export market. But even in Japan and America, people are more and more discovering our Belgian spice cake.
In the future we want to keep offering the tastiest spice cake and products based on spice cake ingredients for our fans.
This means that we do not just continue to invest in our production, product development, etc.
We must also invest in the world of tomorrow. At Vondelmolen, we fully take our responsibility to ensure a pleasant life for the people around us in the future.