EAL was established in 1972. When the founder decided to emigrate to Canada in 1981, he asked former college friend Anton Vos whether he was interested in taking over the company. Under his management, and since 2005 that of his sons Pascal Vos (managing director), Jean Paul Vos (commercial director) and Stephan Vos (R&D), EAL has developed into one of the most experienced players in the development of hardware and software for security management and access control. In 2022, the year in which EAL celebrated its 50th anniversary, the three brothers thought the time was right for the next step: acquisition by Unica.
Just one more line of software
Pascal, Jean Paul and Stephan all have similar memories of their father and the family-owned business. “We grew up in a world surrounded by technology. As children, all three of us often accompanied our father on customer visits to tinker with power supplies and to programme software,” explains Jean Paul. Pascal nods, “Fun, to go off with dad for an hour. Or so you thought. Eventually you found yourself on the road all day. That was not such a problem that time when my father had to adjust the settings on the biscuit machine at a bakery. I spent the whole day stuffing my face with biscuits! But generally speaking, the days passed quite slowly.”
Stephan shares the same memories. “We once spent the whole day at a fire station in Maastricht. At some point, I went outside and remember seeing the sun go down. When I asked, ‘Are we going yet?’, my father’s answer was always the same.” All three brothers chime in, “Just one more line of software to adjust!”
Different areas of expertise
Looking back, they can all laugh about their childhood experiences, and recognise that they taught them a lot. In Jean Paul’s words, “In our teenage years, we found ourselves negotiating with clients. When our father became ill – we were all in our early twenties and after our studies had all started working at EAL – the three of us were suddenly faced with having to run the business ourselves.” Pascal continues, “Our father said, ‘You’ve always told me you could do it better than I can. Now is your chance to prove it!’ It is true that all three of us can sometimes be quite headstrong and we all like to do things our own way.” According to Jean Paul, the business is a success because he and his brothers all occupy different positions. “We each work according to our own area of expertise at achieving the same goals. That makes life easy.”
‘Our development department offers Unica a technological edge’
EAL is involved in developing and implementing security management and access control systems, mobile data communication and voice recording. Remarkably, the Apeldoorn-based company develops and manufactures all its hardware and software in-house. “We manufacture unique products and that makes us very independent. And because all our manufacturing takes place in the Netherlands, we have fewer problems with the shortage of components,” says Pascal.
Another remarkable feature of EAL is its relatively large research and development department. “We recognise the importance of keeping up with the latest technological developments. Our customers, including hospitals, banks and government institutions, expect nothing less of us,” adds Jean Paul. “When it comes to professionalisation – for example, the ability to identify and trace products and to issue clear guarantee conditions – security requirements, legislation and regulations, the bar is constantly rising. We are for example ISO 27001 certified. You could say that we have developed EAL from a nerds club into a serious organisation.”
Best customer proposal
The fact that in the past ten years the company has received no less than eight takeover bids is proof that the advances made by EAL have not gone unnoticed. “Usually the conversations were short,” explains Pascal. “We have no interest in cashing in and living a life of leisure. We want to continue running our own business at EAL. And perhaps even offering our children a future within the company.” Stephan’s eldest son is employed as a programmer in EAL’s development department, and Pascal’s eldest son recently started an internship at Unica. That company succeeded in 2022 in acquiring EAL. Jean Paul talks about why. “Unica offered us the possibility of carrying on what he had started but within the Unica Access & Security cluster. We retain our company culture and are free to seek synergy with other Unica companies like Nsecure, with whom we have long been working together for the UWV. Together, we can offer our customers the best all-round proposal.”
All three brothers agree that Unica and EAL complement each other excellently. “Our development department offers Unica a technological edge,” explains Stephan. “And we can expand our knowledge of other security management domains, such as cloud solutions and cybersecurity, to help us grow further.” Jean Paul enjoys the feeling of being his ‘own boss’, while at the same time forming part of a large, broadly oriented group of companies. And according to Pascal, Unica still has a great deal to learn from the result focus of EAL, while EAL can benefit from the economies of scale and long-term vision of Unica. “It’s a great situation. For the first time in fifteen years we have something to learn,” he concludes with a grin.