Basil: making cycling more enjoyable

Basil likes to see people enjoying riding their bicycle, which is why they make beautiful and functional bicycle accessories that encourage people to cycle more often. Simply because cycling is healthy and gives people a daily dose of happiness.

It all started in 1976 when Ine van Dam stepped into the bicycle shop of Nico van Balveren, looking for a wicker basket for her bicycle. Nico rose up to the challenge and developed a custom made basket, meeting all Ine’s wishes. The most important discovery: because of that basket she enjoyed her bike rides even more!

Family business
Not a whole lot has changed in the family business since then. Their passion still is designing products that make cycling more enjoyable, always taking people’s wishes into account.

Basil wants to understand why and when people ride their bicycle. And also why and when they don’t. From that they learn, every single day. This information, together with their sense of style and technical knowledge, results in stylish, high quality and always functional cycling accessories and cyclist rainwear. ‘Spread the cycling joy’ is their main message.

Since its launch in 1976, Basil has become a leading player in the bicycle accessories market. With 25 employees, the company is based in Ulft and sells bicycle baskets, bags, accessories and cyclist rainwear in over 40 countries.

Development process of products
Janne Venderbosch works at Basil’s Products department as a purchasing/logistics employee. Janne: “Our department is responsible for developing the Basil collection, which consists of bicycle accessories and cyclist rainwear. Besides me as a purchases and logistics employee, our team includes a collection manager and product managers. Together we take the responsibility for the design and production process of our collection. Because I am so close to the source I get to see the entire development process of the various products up close. The theme of sustainability often comes up. In the past I worked in the fashion and lifestyle industry. There, the theme of sustainability already was a topic for some time and I got to know the issues that played. These issues have always interested me, which is why I indicated that I wanted to play a role in this subject.”

Sustainability incorporated in strategy
The slogan: ‘Spread the cycling joy’ is part of the DNA of Basil. They encourage people to cycle more often. Because cycling is healthy and gives everyone a daily dose of happiness. Their accessories contribute in a practical (and fashionable!) way. Basil feels connected to a more sustainable lifestyle in which cycling fits in perfectly.

Janne: “In addition, we increasingly felt the need to explore how we could incorporate sustainability more into our strategy. Our commitment to sustainability started in the 2012 with the Basil Urban Unfold bicycle bags made from recycled canvas, which launched the [re]-Cycling label. Our commitment has only grown. Today, our headquarter is solar powered and produces more energy than they use. Our successful Basil Skane rainwear series bears the BlueSign label, certifying the reduced social and environmental impact of the production process.

However, we wanted to take a deeper look at where we currently stand in terms of sustainability. Sustainability is a broad concept and because there are different angles from which you can work, it seemed useful to us to set out a research question for this. The main goal was to make it measurable where we currently stand and to develop a tool that can help us convert our strategy into goals. Not just for product development but for the entire business operation now and in the future.”

Connecting with ESCF
Janne: “We became a member of ESCF a few months ago. The reason is that, in the first place, we are interested in connecting with ESCF because the forum is a linking pin between university/science and the industry. In addition, through this membership we think we will stay up to date of new developments and innovations in the field of logistics.

Since sustainability is a part of our company’s strategy, our goal was to get more insight into the topic sustainability. The way to get more insight was to involve a Master thesis student for this topic. ESCF mediated in finding the appropriate candidate for our Master thesis assignment on sustainability. Also during this assignment they offered support between Basil/student/university.

In addition, the membership in ESCF offers some workshops that were developed in cooperation with University of Eindhoven/students/business community. It was precisely this combination of science & research with practice that really appealed to us.”

Master thesis assignment
Lars van der Horst is working at his Master thesis assignment at Basil: “I am working on a starting point for sustainability within the company. To provide this starting point I looked at where the company can make most impact. Looking at the sustainability impact that the company could have it became clear that this could be done by looking at the product the company develops. Gaining product level sustainability insights would be a suitable starting point for the company wide short term sustainability goals and long-term sustainability strategy. Addressing this topic for the company spoke to me because sustainability is an issue that all companies will need to address in the coming years more and more. That makes addressing this issue extremely relevant and Basil feels the urge to explore this topic more elaborately. In my research I used a design science methodology through which the practical side of the company and the scientific aspects of research connect. This connection is made by a model through which Basil can assess sustainability of products during the new product development process to gain sustainability insights and make an impact where possible.”