How it all began
In 1981, 31-year-old furniture maker Bert Roubos had a thriving business consultancy and administration office. But he wanted more: Bert wanted to develop, produce and sell Indian snacks.
He set up 'Indoking', buys a freezer van, hired a representative, got his wife Marga and sister-in-law Louise to promote the products and boldly started his new venture.
It was a year of exploring the market, trying out products, working hard and making mistakes. Without positive results. The money ran out. But the saying "when the need is greatest, salvation is near" would soon ring true, says Bert.
“We still had some very spicy minced meat. And pancakes from Singapore, which we used for our snacks. The demand for mini snacks gave me an idea: why don't we fold a pancake around a small portion of this spicy minced meat? I tried it out for my eldest son's birthday party. The snacks proved to be very popular!”
The folding took some practice at the kitchen table, just like the recipe for the meat, but the idea for the Vlammetje® was born.
It was 18 October 1982, and it was just in time...
Success of the Vlammetjes®
It was 18 October 1982, and it was just in time...
Thanks to Vlammetjes®, turnover was boosted. In the first year, we went from zero to one million guilders (€ 450,000) and more than triple that two years later. A flaming start after all.
“Because we struggled to meet demands, we initially tried to limit the reputation of the Vlammetjes® to the west of the Netherlands. We already had our hands full with that. But keeping it quiet only worked for a while: saying 'no' turned out to be the best advertising in hindsight.”
As soon as the success of the Vlammetjes® became clear, Indoking decided to no longer profile itself as a wholesaler, but as a producer.
In order to achieve the widest possible availability, the company approached all catering wholesalers. First the catering market, then the retail market. A distribution partner for Belgium registered in 1987. And the range was further expanded.
The Vlammetje now has a family
In addition to the Vlammetje®, Indoking also marketed a big brother, the Vuurvreter®. The Tammetje is introduced - but this product did not appear to be distinctive enough.
Toasties, VlamTosti's® and Vlammensaus® followed, and in 1991 the KaasTengels®. A revolution, because this snack is the first to have a pancake jacket developed and baked by Indoking itself. The pancakes no longer need to be imported from Singapore. The Vlammetje® also got its own recognisable jacket: orange with natural ingredients.
Bert had specific reasons to develop the KaasTengels® in the 90s: a declining trend in meat consumption was emerging and the Asians were already responding to this trend. The cheese snack was a suitable response. Vegetarian, and despite the Asian jacket, unmistakably Dutch.
A golden opportunity: the sales of KaasTengels® continue to grow and almost exceed the success of Vlammetjes®.
The journey of the Vlammetje®
The Vlammetje® has had a wonderful pioneering start. From the kitchen table (invent, determine recipe, fold, fold again, and fold again).
From the in-laws (mixing spices with the whole family, roasting meat, tearing pancakes and folding Vlammetjes®), production at the family home in Numansdorp, and eventually to our first official business premises: a former chicken shed in Bleiswijk. Converted over the years into an official food location.
From Indoking to Topking
The company started out as Indoking. Indeed: inspired by that hamburger giant, but Indonesian. Later on, our cheese toastie was branded the less Indonesian sounding 'Topking'.
And when we introduced VlamTosti's®, our customers realised that the Topking Tosti's® came from the same company as the Indoking Vlammetjes®. This turned out to strengthen the brand, so we decided to trade entirely under the Topking banner.
Retirement? Nah, let's start another company!
In 2008, Bert talks to Euro Saté, the hamburger and satay specialist in Rotterdam and surrounding areas.
“Our location in Bleiswijk had become too small and you could hear an echo at Euro Saté, there was so much available space.
So, I went to find out if we could rent a space there. Before I knew it, we were talking about a takeover. A childhood dream. Euro Saté had always been a great example to me. People around me had thought I was about to retire and were amazed at my expansion plans.”
In 2011, Bert hands over the care of his baby to the new General Manager Edwin Hak, “Edwin understands what we're about. I entrust him with our company and our people.
He plans to grow the company to twice the size in the next ten years, mainly based on organic growth. And I know he will succeed. And I'm going to get to 95, so I get to enjoy it for another 32 years.”
Bert has built up a wonderful company. He can't quite let go entirely. So he puts his heart and soul into the renovation and extension of the building in Schiedam. And it continues to inspire him. "If I were born again, I would be an architect!"
The company is looking great in 2013. Is this Bert Roubos' greatest pride? “Of course I am very proud of my company, but I'm even more proud of my family.
We love each other and all get on really well. My wife has always been right behind me and my kids are just as proud of Topking as I am. Topking is my baby and their little brother.”
Topking Fingerfood has a new owner as of 21 October 2019. Signature Foods BV takes over the shares of the current owners of the Schiedam brand manufacturer.
Topking becomes part of the ambitious group. The independently operating companies within the group are mainly known for the brands Johma, Westland Salades, Gourmet Salades, Heks'nkaas, Hamal, Délio, Kitchen on a Mission and Maga. Signature Food's mission is to "create feel-good moments with our freshly chilled and savoury treats"