Today Mrs. Jacqueline Sioen-Zoete, co-founder and director of Sioen Industries, passed away unexpectedly. Her children Michele, Danielle and Pascale, her sons-in-law and grandchildren report this. She was 77 years old (25/10/1942).
Mrs. Sioen was the embodiment of a typical West Flemish entrepreneur, with a real "flandrien" mentality. Working hard, looking ahead, never seeking to be in the spotlight and most of all never giving up nor beaten down.
Together with her late husband, Jean-Jacques Sioen, she founded the company Sioen Industries (1960). Today, the stock quoted company is the world market leader in technical textiles, professional protective clothing and fine chemicals.
Mrs. Sioen was an entrepreneur pur sang, not a given as a woman in the 60s of the last century. With her husband Jean-Jacques Sioen, she formed the ideal partnership on the road to sustainable growth. He as a coater (producer of coated technical textiles) and she, with the textiles that he produced, as a manufacturer of protective clothing. Together they wrote the success story "Sioen Industries".
The company grew from a two-man business to a multinational and Mrs. Sioen had an active role in this until 2014. In that year, she resigned as CEO of her beloved Apparel Division and devoted herself with the same enthusiasm to the Château La Marzelle vineyard. She remained a director of the Sioen Industries group until today.
When Mr Sioen died in 2009, we already knew: behind every strong man stands a strong woman. The word "strong" is a euphemism when used to describe Mrs. Sioen. Nothing was too much for her. She knew her business inside out, worked harder and longer than anyone. She was critical but at the same time possessed a wonderful gift to see things positively and to always work towards a good outcome.
Mrs. Sioen was a passionate visionary. Which entrepreneur, wherever in the world, had the vision to fully invest in textiles in the 1960s and 1970s? A branch of industry that was hit hard in the Northern France and West Flanders region. As a visionary, she already knew that textiles would take on a different function in our society. Textiles would protect, become more technical and play a major role in the construction of our roads, buildings, in agriculture and in industry in general. Work clothing would not just remain simple clothing. She then already saw that protecting people during their work was important. She and her team helped to create regulations and norms for better protection of workers in any working environment. Over the years, she clothed and protected many millions of people: firefighters, police, energy producers, foresters, divers, postal services, train conductors, road workers, ambulance officers are just a few examples.
Mrs. Sioen did not like awards and all the fuss that went with it. Yet awards such as Enterprise of the Year, her daughter as the first female president of the FEB/VBO and the FIT Lion of the Export became her share. Usually she looked proudly from the side-lines. In 2017 she received the "Lifetime Achievement award" from one of the leading magazines in the Apparel industry, the only time we saw her in the spotlights.
"Protection through innovation" became the group's corporate slogan. And she and the entire company lived by that. She and her husband passed on their passion and work ethic to their children and grandchildren. The company is in good hands.
With a graceful femininity that had no equal, she worked day and night (so it seemed), had plans and remained involved: with the winery Château La Marzelle, with Sioen the company and with Sioen the family. She was proud of her grandchildren and children. She was the "mater familias", our tower of strength, the hard hand in a soft glove, an inspirator, someone we looked up to and we were proud of.
We will miss her.