The story of Bekaert starts in Zwevegem, a rural village in Belgium. Local farmers face the constant problem of cattle showing the stubborn habit of straying beyond the boundaries of their fields so damaging other people’s property. Leo Leander Bekaert translates their need into a business opportunity: he starts a small business in barbed wire by putting nails in twisted wire. Leo Leander Bekaert didn’t invent barbed wire, but he soon designs his own barbs: star-shaped ‘crowns’ with six sharp points which can be woven into the wire. In 1881 he patents this invention and, in next to no time, recruits most of the Zwevegem households to work at home making ‘crowns’ enabling Bekaert to continue producing at full speed. 


To offer higher quality and to fight corrosion Bekaert starts applying a protective zinc layer on its products. Business goes well, the activities expand, and the product range is broadened with wire and fencing products.


Bekaert’s very first simple trademark is designed in 1907. Visually it refers directly to the main product; it consists of a symbolic representation of a wooden reel for barbed wire which is made clear by the letters L (Léon) and B (Bekaert).


In the 1920s, global expansion gives a new dimension to Bekaert. In the beginning of the decade Bekaert invests in a wire drawing mill in Bourbourg (France). Production starts in 1924, making wire products for the French market and French overseas territories. It is Bekaert’s first production plant outside Belgium. Whilst going global, throughout the years, Bekaert will never lose sight of the principle of keeping production close to the market.


In 1926, Bekaert introduces a new trademark, a combination of a bear, hexagonal netting and barbed wire with the letters L and B. The bear is symbolic for strength as well as a friendly animal loved by children. The Latin word for bear ‘Ursus’ became well-known as a new trademark and was for years identified with all Bekaert fencing. 


In 1928 Bekaert begins exporting to North America.


A new kind of barbed wire – still produced today – is developed: Motto®, made of two relatively thin carbon steel strands twisted at a changing pitch between the barbs.


Bekaert celebrates its 50th anniversary and, by this time, employs about 600 people (almost all of whom are on the picture). In 1932 Bekaert starts nail production in Zwevegem (Belgium).




Bekaert further expands abroad with the investment in Tinsley Wire Industries Ltd in the United Kingdom.


The post-war period brings about a great evolution in new technologies at Bekaert: the processing of high-carbon steel wire, welded mesh, a great variety of new coatings and stainless steel wire products. Bekaert develops the technological knowhow and practical expertise to make highly qualitative high-carbon steel. Adding carbon makes steel stronger, and adding the right heat treatment makes wires flexible and ductile.


Several tire producers come knocking on Bekaert’s door asking if we could make steel cord to reinforce rubber tires. Steel cord is a hightech product, consisting of very fine, usually brass-coated steel wire filaments. By the end of 1951 the development and production team successfully manages to deliver the first test orders.


Bekaert keeps exploring new territories. At the end of the 1940s Leon Antoon Bekaert – son of the founder – travels to Latin America. With this trip, he marks the successful start  of the company on that continent. In 1948 Bekaert invests in Eltra (Argentina) and in 1950 in Inchalam (Chile).


Steel cord production scales up in Zwevegem (Belgium) with the building of the first steel cord plant.


An office is opened in New York (United States).


Bekaert takes its first steps in Asia setting up a representative office in Tokyo, which focuses mainly on the steel cord business.


Bekaert expands its business significantly into new activities and new markets. During the 1960s Bekaert opens new offices in Germany, France and the United Kingdom.


Bekaert broadens its activities in Latin America and invests in Vicson (Venezuela).


Bekaert is – and always has been – a technology-driven company. A major decision in this respect is  establishing a global Research Center in Deerlijk (Belgium) in 1964. It becomes the cradle where, over the years, many breakthroughs in technology see daylight, for example the development of ultra-thin metal fibers.

The iconic ‘B’ is launched as the new identifying logo for Bekaert. The designer saw wire as the origin and vehicle of Bekaert’s future. Wire drawing and the shaping of wire, swirling out in increasingly wide turns around the nucleus, extending all over the world, wire without end. Used throughout the years in different combinations with the word Bekaert.


Start of the engineering activity in Ingelmunster (Belgium). Engineering is (still today) responsible for the design and manufacture of equipment related to Bekaert’s businesses.


Another steel cord plant starts production, in Aalter (Belgium).


In the early 1970s, the first oil crisis rudely shakes the industrialized nations   out of their dream of a golden age. The second oil price shock, in 1978-1980 sends prices further up and leads to an international recession. One of the solutions to reduce the fuel consumption of cars is to reduce the weight of the tires. That’s why Bekaert relentlessly strives to make wires thinner and thinner and at the same time stronger.      

The approach is successful and in the following years new steel cord plants are opened in Rome (United States), Burgos (Spain), Tochigi (Japan), Lanklaar (Belgium), Vespasiano (Brazil) and Moen (Belgium). The co-operation with Japanese partners convinces Bekaert of the importance of Total Quality Management. Bekaert is an early believer and applies TQM at every level and in every department.


The Bekaert family, which until 1972 has all the share capital, decides to open it up to investment by new shareholders by listing the company on the Belgian stock exchange. In a little over 2 minutes, all the Bekaert shares are sold. The investments serve to support the international expansion of the Group.


Bekaert develops Dramix® steel fibers for concrete reinforcement. Dramix® steel fibers offer many advantages: as an alternative to mesh and rebar, they guarantee a more durable surface, save construction time, decrease labor intensity and installation costs, and are more convenient to use in complex construction projects such as tunnels.


In the mid 1970s Bekaert opens steel wire plants in Quito (Ecuador) and in Van Buren (United States).


Bekaert announces the establishment of a Brazilian company, Belgo-Mineira-Bekaert, to manufacture steel cord for tires and for high-pressure hoses. The company comes on stream by 1977.


Bekaert celebrates its centenary and welcomes his Majesty, King Boudewijn I of Belgium to visit its premises in Zwevegem. A visitor center is opened in the first Bekaert factory, built in the garden of the house of the founder. 

But 1980 is also the first year of what would turn out to be a tough decade. The second oil price shock – after the one in the early 1970s – sends prices up to new highs and leads to an international recession. The economic consequences are significant: inflation in the European Community exceeds 10%. Industrial activity shrinks throughout Europe and the entire industrialized Western world.


While restructuring operations are implemented in the steel wire plants in Belgium, the steel cord capacity in many plants increases significantly, triggered by rising demand for radial tires. 

To further diversify its activities Bekaert defines projects in specific areas, such as filtration and composites.


Bekaert moves into sputtering, an advanced process for applying vacuum coatings. Bekaert metal fibers are used in the Space Shuttle’s heat shield.


Three new steel cord plants are opened: Geelong (Australia), Dyersburg (United States) and Izmit (Turkey). Bekaert also acquires Muskegon Wire Cy (Michigan, United States) and holds a majority interest in Taiwan in a joint venture with China First Steel Ropes. 

To develop applications for metal fibres in burners Bekaert and Shell form a joint venture Acotech NV.


During the 1980s Bekaert invests massively in Total Quality Management. Hundreds of employees are trained as TQM project leaders, applying a strong problem-solving methodology for continuous process improvement. Many plants apply for – and receive? - a Quality Award. Top management reviews core competencies and defines mission statements. Workshops involving employees around the world emphasize the importance of value creation for the customer. In 1988 Bekaert is the first Belgian company to join the newly formed European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM). New wire and steel cord plants are opened in the United States (Shelbyville-Kentucky, and Rogers-Arkansas).


By 1990 Bekaert is a truly international company employing some 15 000 employees.


Bekaert recognizes China’s huge market potential and decides to invest in mainland China, in the first place to participate in the growing domestic steel cord market. The first steel cord plant in China, China-Bekaert Steel Cord (CBSC) is opened in Jiangyin (Jiangsu Province). It is a majority participation in a joint venture with local industrialist Fasten Group.


Bekaert expands its wire activities in Latin America with the acquisition of Prodinsa by Inchalam (Chile), the investment in Prolansa (Peru) and the construction of a second steel cord plant in Brazil.


Engineering activities are concentrated in Ingelmunster (Belgium). Local engineering branches are set up in China and Brazil to support local steel cord operations.


Bekaert takes a 45% participation in the wire activities of Companhia Siderurgica Belgo Mineira in Brazil. Later, the joint venture will be named Belgo Bekaert Arames Ltda. The partnership is a major step in Bekaert's expansion strategy in Latin America.

Bekaert’s focus in Asia is not only on China. In 1997 investments start in Karawang (Indonesia) and in 1998 in Pune (India), to serve the fast-growing steel cord markets. The company opens its second steel cord plant in China in Shenyang (Liaoning Province). Bekaert also invests in Contours (Orrville, United States) which produces profiled wire.


Bekaert significantly expands its fiber activities, with the start of production of filter systems and environment-friendly metal fiber burners, used for paper drying and other applications. The company also acquires a majority interest in Furigas, a Dutch company that specializes in eco-friendly gas burners.


Bekaert enters 2000 ready for a new millennium, as a technology-driven business with proven competencies in metal-forming and surface coating. The company further invests in a wire manufacturer Titan Steel and Wire (Canada). For the first time a Chairman of the Board from outside the family is appointed, Paul Buysse.


Bekaert breaks into the market of window film for safety and solar-control applications by acquiring the Specialty Films unit of Material Sciences Corporation (MSC/SFI) in the United States. In the wake of 9/11, the windows of the Capitol in Washington are protected with Bekaert safety film, a project for which the team was honored by the Architect of the Capitol.


In 2002 Bekaert celebrates the 50th anniversary of its steel cord activities. The division is the uncontested world leader in its market. The start-up of a modern new steel cord plant in Sládkovičovo (Slovakia) proceeds smoothly.


Bekaert acquires two steel wire mills in Slovakia. The company also transfers some steel cord capacity, mainly intended for project markets , from Zwevegem (Belgium) to Slovakia.


Bekaert experiences explosive growth in its steel cord activities in China: an extension to the Shenyang plant (Liaoning province) is opened while the third steel cord plant in Weihai (Shandong province) is constructed. Bekaert also opens  a Technical Center in Jiangyin (Jiangsu province), with state-of-the art testing facilities for the local market. The company inaugurates the first steel cord plant in India, in Pune.


2005 is the year in which Bekaert celebrates its 125th anniversary and launches a new corporate identity and a baseline better together. The baseline highlights the increasingly customer-focused business culture and conveys the progress towards more open communications and true collaboration.

In January 2005, Bekaert takes the decision to sell Bekaert Fencing NV. The sale is a historic event, as the fencing business is where it all started for Bekaert in 1880.


Bekaert presents strong results, based on a global presence and on unlocking the potential in both the traditional and emerging markets. Placing emphasis on sustainability the company optimizes its portfolio and production processes in the interests of people, the environment and the community. The Research & Development budget rises to 60 million euro to ensure Bekaert achieves or retains the status of preferred supplier for its customers around the world.


Bekaert presents strong results, based on a global presence and on unlocking the potential in both the traditional and emerging markets. Placing emphasis on sustainability the company optimizes its portfolio and production processes in the interests of people, the environment and the community. The Research & Development budget rises to 60 million euro to ensure Bekaert achieves or retains the status of preferred supplier for its customers around the world.


Supplementary to its partnership with Fasten Group in China, Bekaert concludes a partnership with Ansteel, a leader in the Chinese steel industry and one of the world’s top steel producers. Together both companies will explore strategic cooperation projects to more effectively address the growing demand for advanced wire products on the Chinese market. Bekaert decides to secure a manufacturing presence in Russia by building a new steel cord plant in the Lipetsk region. 


Bekaert further consolidates its activities in Latin America by establishing a new holding company together with its Ecuadorian partners. Bekaert Ideal includes both partners’ interests in Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru. Bekaert is the principal shareholder.

Ansteel, a Chinese steel industry leader, and Bekaert officially open a new production plant for steel cord products in Chongqing (China) named Bekaert Ansteel Tire Cord (Chongqing) Co., Ltd. 


In 2010 Bekaert continues its growth path by expanding its presence in regions where industrial growth is predominant:  capacity increases in India, Indonesia, Latin America, Central Europe and Russia to meet the growing local demand. Bekaert's position strengthens further in the tire cord market   with the acquisition from Bridgestone of two steel cord plants, located in Sardinia and in Huizhou (China). 

Bekaert steps up its investments in technological leadership by opening a new technical center in Ranjangaon, near Pune (India) to support local customers with enhanced technical services. In Jiangyin (China) we inaugurate a new state-of-the art building to accommodate our Asia Research & Development activities.

We take our efforts towards more environmentally friendly manufacturing processes one step further with the inauguration of the greenest steel cord plant in Shenyang, bringing together the newest technologies for optimized energy conservation, reduced environmental impact and workspace comfort. Further strides are made in making plants ISO14001 compliant throughout 2010.

The 8.8 earthquake, and the subsequent tsunami devastates several coastal towns in south-central Chile. Almost all of Bekaert’s employees of the Inchalam plant in Concepción are affected, with severe damage or full destruction of their houses.  Bekaert immediately sets up a disaster relief program and engages all colleagues around the world to work one hour, one day, or more, for our Chilean colleagues. While this action runs, our Indonesian colleagues in Karawang deal with extreme floods, and the disaster relief action is extended.  The company doubles the employee contributions and the total amount compensated for all damages incurred.  A true ‘better together’ story at Bekaert. 


2011 is a year with two faces. It starts as a promising year with the best quarter results ever. Bekaert’s confidence shows in the continuation of expansion investments and in M&A projects to grow its wire activity platform in China.

The Group sells its Specialty Films activities to Saint-Gobain. This divestment is a confirmation of Bekaert’s strategic focus on activities related to its core technological competences: steel wire transformation and coatings.

Drastic business evolutions in the solar energy market come as suddenly as unpredictably and starts impacting Bekaert's sawing wire activities from mid-2011.


The evolution in solar energy markets creates turmoil across the entire supply chain. The resulting sawing wire business collapse forces Bekaert to rightsize its related manufacturing and support platforms. This impacts Belgian and Chinese operations mainly.

Bekaert also implements an international program to reduce its global cost structure with the aim of restoring the company's long-term profitability in view of continued sustainable growth. 


Bekaert invests in a new production line at the company’s Lipetsk plant in Russia. Domestic production capacity of Dramix® steel fibers is added to serve infrastructure and construction markets in Russia and the wider CIS. 

The company sells its filtration activities to the American Clarcor Group and concludes a long-term agreement for the supply of filter media.


Bert De Graeve becomes Chairman of the Board of Directors in succession of Paul Buysse who retires after 14 years in the chair of the company’s Board. Matthew Taylor is appointed Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors, in succession of Bert De Graeve. 

Bekaert acquires the majority of the shares of the ArcelorMittal steel wire plant in Costa Rica and takesk full ownership of the Cimaf ropes entity in Brazil.


Bekaert acquires the steel cord activities from Pirelli. This largest acquisition in the company’s history includes plants in Izmit (Turkey), Figline (Italy), Slatina (Romania), Sumaré (Brazil) and Jining (China). A long-term supply agreement is part of the transaction.

Bekaert obtains Arrium’s wire rope business in Australia and establishes the Bekaert Rope Group with the company’s Chilean partners.

Bekaert divests its Carding Solutions activities to Groz-Beckert. As part of this transaction, the companies enter into a long-term supply agreement of Bekaert steel wire to Groz-Beckert.

Bekaert and Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan announce the merger of the global ropes and advanced cords businesses of Bekaert and Bridon.


Bekaert expands the scope of its global transformational programs and their impact becomes clearly visible in our plants and in our results.

We conclude the largest merger deal in the history of Bekaert and in the ropes market overall. The Bridon-Bekaert Ropes Group starts business at the end of June.


Bekaert opens new group headquarters in Belgium, built on the original grounds where founder Leo Leander Bekaert started the company in 1880.


In 2018, Bekaert takes full ownership of Bridon-Bekaert Ropes Group after reaching an agreement to purchase Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan’s equity share. 

Belgo Mineira Bekaert Artefatos de Arame Ltda (BMB), a joint venture of ArcelorMittal and Bekaert, announces expansion plans for the Itaúna plant in Minas Gerais, Brazil, to grow its market share in the region.

Bekaert continuously evaluates the performance of its activities. In 2018, the company announces the closure of its loss-making facilities in Figline, Italy, and the Dramix® plant in Costa Rica. Bekaert also sells Solaronics. 


Bekaert changes its organizational set-up to further sharpen a customer-centric organization focus and to revitalize Bekaert's business performance. The new organizational structure consists of four Business Units and four Global Functional Domains. Several new executives join the Bekaert Group Executive.

After 17 years of dedication to Bekaert as CFO, CEO and finally as Chairman of the Board, Bert De Graeve decides not to seek re-election for a new term and hands the chair over to his successor, Jürgen Tinggren. The shareholders honor Bert De Graeve with the title of Honorary Chairman at the Bekaert General Meeting of Shareholders of 8 May 2019.

Jürgen Tinggren becomes Chairman of the Board of Directors at the close of the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders on 8 May 2019.


Given the impact of the corona pandemic on populations and economies worldwide, Bekaert swiftly implements global and local measures  to safeguard the health and safety of all employees and their families, and of contractors and visitors on the Group’s sites worldwide.

Bekaert ensures close communication with customers and suppliers so that all supply chain actions are aligned and deliveries to customers safeguarded.

In May 2020, Oswald Schmid, Chief Operations Officer of Bekaert, becomes the interim CEO of Bekaert. The Group steps up its profitability and succeeds in deleveraging the company’s net debt.


Bekaert announces its new strategy during the 2021 Capital Markets Day.  The Group’s sustainability strategy is an integral part of it.

Proalco SAS (subsidiary of Bekaert in Colombia) and Almasa SA merge their steel wire solutions activities in Colombia. 

Bekaert acquires Mitchell Industries Inc. (Indiana, US) and integrates the business within the energy and utility platform of Bekaert Steel Wire Solutions US. This enables Bekaert to step up its presence in the growing US energy and telecommunications market.

Flemish research centres imec and VITO, together with industrial pioneers Bekaert, Colruyt Group, DEME and John Cockerill join forces to invest in the production of green hydrogen. 

Bekaert achieves strong growth in 2021 with record-high sales, significant margin improvement across all business units, and a record-low debt leverage.


Bekaert acquires VisionTek Engineering Srl. It is an important step in extending digital services to ropes customers with real-time analysis, digital data, and expert monitoring of critical working ropes. 

Bekaert expands its leading position in renewable energy markets through research and capacity investments, as well as through partnerships concluded with TFI Marine (floating offshore wind mooring solutions) and Pajarito Powder (green hydrogen electrolysis technologies).

Bekaert’s emission reduction targets are validated by the Science Based Targets initiative.


Bekaert adopts a brand new visual identity including a new logo. The new look & feel signals Bekaert’s transformation journey to become even more customer-focused and to explore new markets driven by a clear purpose: ‘Establishing the new possible’.