Old, but not Old-Fashioned


interview with Aurélie Maes, Maes Mattress Ticking

Aurélie Maes is the young CEO of MMT (Maes Mattress Ticking). Founded in 1926 and now, four generations later, MMT is the market leader in high-quality woven and knitted mattress tickings.
It’s not because we’re an old industry that we’re old fashioned
“Belgium is the market leader when it comes to mattress ticking. Our little country is home to a rich heritage and a great deal of know-how,” Aurélie starts. “One can only be a leader when they stay on top of their game, research, and invest in innovation. Our Belgian companies are innovative and dynamic, contrary to the reputation that may follow us”. 
Aurélie speaks passionately about the industry she was born and raised in. She’s realistic about the challenges the industry is facing, but hopeful for the future. 
“There’s no doubt that our industry has been through a lot and continues to face big challenges”, Aurélie tells us. “One of the biggest challenges, and you might have heard this before, is the shortage of adequately educated staff. Just like many other companies, we’re having to turn to train our candidates ourselves, often re- and up-skilling them because they come from completely different backgrounds and industries. Textile knowledge continues to get lost in our country, despite our huge legacy, and that’s unfortunate”.  
Aurélie: “Furthermore, our textile industry is suffering from a bad competitive position due to high labour and energy costs, which weakens our international position. Belgian and European regulations that continue to become stricter on local but not foreign producers isn’t helping to create a level playing field”. 
We believe in risk diversification and constantly ask ourselves: how can we improve and innovate? What products can we include to enhance our selection?
“At MMT we produce half-fabricates for the middle and high-end market segment. We pride ourselves on using natural materials and keeping our entire production process in-house,” Aurélie tells us. “We want to move with the times and follow trends that not only fulfill the needs and desires of our customers but also provide a positive impact on society at large”. 
Aurélie: “In recent years, we’ve been updating our material research to look into new primary materials like hemp, for example, which offers great prospects in term of sustainable production. Dedicated to moving in the sustainable direction our world needs, we’ve developed a fire-retardant product that is 100% organic. We’re also continuously looking into how we can improve our machinery to meet the demands of a rapidly changing market”. 
“Despite our pioneering position as Belgians, we see a lot of companies who no longer invest in our country and move their production elsewhere. This has been a trend for a while and, in my opinion, it’s a sad loss”, Aurélie says. “At MMT, we believe in risk diversification by asking ourselves: how can we innovate? What products can we include to enhance our selection?”. 
We invest in customer intimacy, making things as easy as possible for our customer, having a direct relationship with our clients
“Staying on top of trends is important,” Aurélie says. “More and more, clients are looking for, and willing to invest in natural and sustainable products. Natural primary materials are being revalued and customers are willing to pay for it”. 
Aurélie: “Health and wellbeing have become hot topics over the last few years and sleep comfort is very important in this, because, let’s face it, sleep is pivotal for good health. People are willing to invest in a good mattress and, if we, at MMT, stay dedicated to research and innovation, we’ll continue to contribute to our client’s health care, that’s fulfilling. Unfortunately, there are often products on the market that excel in marketing, but when it comes down to product value just aren’t good quality. I find this quite sad”. 
“Another important trend is ‘convenience’,” Aurélie continues. “Buying has become easier, more accessible, and more transparent than it used to be. Companies like Amazon and, in our country, Bol.com, have significantly changed the market and our expectations as customers. At MMT, we find it important to invest in customer intimacy, making things as easy as possible for our customers. More than what giants like Amazon can do, we can offer a direct relationship with our customers; we can be proactive. That is valuable”.
“Our textile industry has promising future perspective and is filled with enterprises with beautiful company cultures”, Aurélie says. “Unfortunately, we often lose sight of that and tend to be a bit too modest. I believe that, as an industry, we can definitely learn how to highlight ourselves better”. 
Aurélie: “I recommend schools and young people take a chance and come visit our companies, maybe even together with their parents, so they can all see that choosing a career in textiles is choosing for a bright future”. 
Thank you Aurélie for sharing your hopeful future perspective!