Effervescent tablets for the whole world
originating from the Scheepvaartkaai in Hasselt

Six women from CeeBe and their growth spurt

Did you know that medicines and supplements are increasingly taken in the form of effervescent tablets? And that the only Belgian company producing and selling these tablets – CeeBe – is located along the Scheepvaartkaai in Hasselt? “The fact that our team consists only of women is a pure coincidence. I simply chose the most skilled people,” says Claudia Boehner, Managing Director of CeeBe. This fact and the release of a company video (link) are more than enough reason for an interesting conversation.

CeeBe, with premises at Scheepvaartkaai 16, develops and commercialises mainly food supplements but also medicines in effervescent form (tablets, capsules and powders) in more than 20 countries. As a result, CeeBe achieved a turnover of 12 million  euros in 2022 (last full financial year). Claudia started her business as a secondary occupation in 2016 and hired her first employee in 2019. In other words, a real growth spurt.

“At the notary’s office with my little son on my lap”

How did you come up with the idea for your company and how did you get started, Claudia?

Claudia: “From the age of 23, I worked for the largest manufacturer of effervescent tablets in Europe, which is a German company. In
2012, I came to Belgium to work as sales manager in the pharmaceutical sector. But I always kept in touch with my employer – three brothers in fact – and in 2016 I started distributing their effervescent tablets as a secondary occupation.  On the day the deed of incorporation of CeeBe was signed, my first born son was sitting on my lap. In  2018, I made it my main profession and took my second son to meetings and contract negotiations.”

Effervescent tablets on the rise What’s the reason for this rapid growth?

Claudia: “Medicines and supplements in the form of effervescent tablets are on the rise, their consumption is growing faster than the use of medicines administered in other forms.  Preferences vary from country to country. In Belgium, mainly sports supplements and electrolytes are consumed in this way. In Australia, representing 50% of our turnover, effervescent tablets are the prevalent form.  Effervescent tablets offer several advantages: the ‘bioavailability’ – absorption by the body – is higher than it is the case for solid pills, swallowing problems are non-existent, they allow a higher content of active components, they are taken with a glass of water …”

“Our own contribution to this success lies in the fact that at CeeBe, we do the development, production, design and packaging all by ourselves.  Only for wholesale purposes, but with full service none the less. Thanks to my background working for the manufacturer in Germany, I have a huge number of contacts in that world. We still have our products made at this premises and we hold the exclusive rights for certain markets. How come they allowed me to do this? The growth figures spoke for themselves, it’s a win-win situation.”

“At times I was afraid”

Did you know in advance that it was going to work or was it a calculated gamble?

Claudia: “Well, it was a gamble all right, and I certainly went through some pretty scary months. I knew this was a growing market. But what was the growth rate? And working alone, would I be able to cope with this all in the beginning? I didn’t see it coming that we would grow so fast. But we simply do. This is also our philosophy whenever we recruit a new employee. Just do it.”

 “We also interviewed male applicants”

So it really is a coincidence, those six women on the team?

Claudia: “Yes of course. I started searching in my network and circle of acquaintances. During that phase, I also interviewed many male applicants. In the end, only the best were left.  There is, of course, no denying that we are a very women friendly company. We allow everybody to coordinate their private and professional agendas. Age, gender or the desire to have children are no issues.  In our company, no one has to choose between their family and their profession.”