Freddy Soetaerts, Operator Conversion

Freddy Soetaerts, operator @ Tiense Suikerraffinaderij

When did your adventure start at Raffinerie Tirlemontoise?

I saw an advert in the Publipress for the Raffinerie Tirlemontoise in the autumn of 1986.  They were looking for an operator in their Conversion department. I was eager to get the job and started work in the Sugar plant in Tienen at the end of November under a temporary contract. In early 1991 I was given a permanent contract. Meanwhile, nearly 30 years later, I’m still delighted to be working in the Conversion department.


What does your working day look like?

My job in the three-shift system is very varied. My primary task is looking after the ‘mixer’. This equipment is where moisture is added to the sugar, making it stick together, to then make our famous ‘Harde Klontjes’ (sugar cubes). I am also there to make sure that the right packaging is in place at the different production lines so they can keep on running. After all those years working at the Raffinerie Tirlemontoise I obviously know the production lines really well. So I also take over from colleagues on the different lines when it’s time for their break. This gives me a great variety of jobs.


How would you describe the atmosphere at Raffinerie Tirlemontoise?

There’s a really nice informal atmosphere. We’re a small, but very close team in the Conversion department and everyone’s prepared to lend each other a hand.  In fact it’s a similar atmosphere throughout the Raffinerie Tirlemontoise. There isn’t a day that I don’t enjoy coming to work.


How do you feel about your job and life at Raffinerie Tirlemontoise?

I have a lovely varied job. I have different tasks and that means I have to move around the department collecting materials, helping colleagues … and of course, each day brings its own surprises.


Which is your favourite sugar of Tirlemont?

This may be a bit unusual but I just love icing sugar, because of its soft flavour. I can’t help but add it to strawberries or even pieces of apple. Fabulous!


I also enjoy a sugar cube from time to time. It’s lovely just popping one in your mouth and feeling it melt …