Nathalie Knockaert, Manufacturer
When did your adventure within Raffinerie Tirlemontoise start?
In early December 2001, a job advert in the Streekkrant caught my eye. Suikers Lebbe in Oostkamp was looking for a lab technician. I eagerly sent in my CV, and was invited for an interview a few days later. However, the lab technician vacancy had been filled, but they offered me an alternative: manufacturer at the syrups department. I was willing to take on this challenge, and started my job with Suikers Lebbe, now Lebbe Sugar Specialties, on 11 December 2001.
What does your working day look like?
Each working day is different, but there are various tasks that do produce a theme. First, I look through the schedule; then I go out to inspect the factory. Sugar-dissolving machinery needs special attention. This machine can never come to a standstill, because it is the living heart of production.
Trucks come in every day to load and unload products. This takes place mainly during the early shift and must be followed up well. Then the raw materials for a few lines must be weighed perfectly.
I take a break about halfway through my shift, so that I can go back to work with renewed energy. Then I make a premix, which is a mixture that is made beforehand and will be mixed with the fondant during the production process, and end my working day with the changeover to my colleague on the next shift.
How would you describe the atmosphere at Raffinerie Tirlemontoise?
There really aren’t that many problems among colleagues. The atmosphere at Lebbe Sugar Specialties and within the entire group is really good. That counts for a lot in today’s world. If things aren’t going all that well, you can always find someone you can lean on, can count on. I’m always prepared to help a colleague myself.
What do you think of your job and life at Raffinerie Tirlemontoise?
What began as a challenge and didn’t really match my technician’s diploma has now become the job of my dreams. I can’t imagine working an entire day in a lab now. Every day is different, with new challenges and a sense of achievement at the end of my working day. Even after 14 years.
What is your favourite sugar of Tirlemont?
My favourite product is one we make here at Lebbe Sugar Specialties: Firm-set chocolate fudge. It’s a product for our industrial clients and gives your baked goods a delicious, alluring appearance. It’s a real challenge to make, but it’s oh-so-tasty!