Meet the family behind St. Paul

That makes you want more

The entrepreneurial blood is thicker than water. With a father who traded in cheese and a mother that had her own cheese shop, it is not surprising that margo and dieter kuijl founded st. Paul in 1985. The producer of high quality and functional cheese solutions has now grown into a true family business. Dieter, sons wim and tim, daughter sabrina and her husband samuel explain what makes this company so special.

Dieter: “As a child, I used to go to the factories with my father to buy cheese. I thought it was a boring world with men in grey suits. At the time, I was much more interested in automotive engineering. My parents wanted my sister Margo and I to take over the trading company as the 8th generation, but we took a different approach. I was 21 years old when, with only 5,000 guilders in our pockets, we decided to set up our own company; St. Paul. Not in the cheese trade, but in the cheese industry. In a small factory in Lokeren, East Flanders, we started making cheese products for consumers, but soon shifted our focus to the B2B market. This is where the need arose for processed cheese products with functional applications and longer shelf life. We started exporting abroad pretty soon. This growth necessitated purchase of machinery, where my interest in engineering came in handy and united my passion with cheese. After many successful years, Margo decided to leave the company in 2018. For me, it was too early to stop, entrepreneurship had given me a taste for more.”

It runs in the family

“We are a real family business. Besides Margo and me, our cousin Hidde de Boer joined our team early on. He has worked here for 34 years now and has been a steady beacon for St. Paul. My daughter Sabrina’s husband Samuel started working here in 2009. For my sons Wim and Tim, getting into their father’s business was not a done deal. Both studied at the IVA, the automotive business school in Driebergen, because of their passion for technology and cars.” Wim: “Our parents always encouraged us to choose our own path.This course was therefore a logical choice for me. After that, I still decided to make my love for cars my hobby and started working at St. Paul.” Tim continues: “After my studies, I first worked at a car company. Due to some changes at this company, I wanted to do something different. After a few exploratory talks with my father about working at St. Paul, I started working as a product manager. Even as a child, I had worked at St Paul with my sister and brother during holidays, so I already knew a thing or two. I still lacked the industryspecific knowledge, which I learnt from Hidde, Samuel and my father. Currently, as logistics manager, I am back to my first interest, cars and transport. A fun fact: my wife Kimberley now works for the family business as well!” Sister Sabrina worked at other organisations as well, before joining St. Paul as HR manager. Sarina, Dieter’s wife and mother of Wim, Tim and Sabrina also has an important role to play. “She is the heart of our family and provides the work-life balance. In addition, at St. Paul she provides the finishing touches in the office by organising the joint lunch, for example, and she is always busy getting the last details right,” Dieter says.

Family work(s)

“All in all, the family spends quite a lot of time together. It is very nice to work with your family, because you know what you have in common. But separating business from personal life can be tricky sometimes. We made clear agreements to not take our work situations home,” Sabrina says. Dieter: “I also understand that it can be difficult to be the son or daughter of the owner. As a family member, you area role model and so you will have to work even harder than the rest.” Wim adds: “And no exceptions will be made. When I started working here, I had to start at the bottom like my brother and sister. For me, this was in technical services.” Dieter: “The advantage of being family is that you have complete commitment. We are all so close and can really count on each other. If we are short of a driver, then Tim just gets into the truck.”


“We are a close-knit family” Sabrina says. “For example, we go on ski holidays together every year. This truly is a family tradition. Escape work for a moment, with my parents, brothers, all partners and children and not dealing with work, but spending time with the family. Priceless!” Samuel adds: “Having a coffee in Koewacht every Saturday morning with the family has now also become tradition. We have a spot there where the race cars of our race team are located and where we can work in the workshop.” Sabrina: “We really have a special family bond and that is reflected in the togetherness in the company.”


Dieter: “Because of the family bond and working closely together with all colleagues, we have achieved a lot. That is the greatest wealth you can wish for as a father and CEO and makes me one of the happiest people on earth.” Samuel adds: “It’s great to see what we achieve every week in terms of different products. That is really to the achievement of the whole team, everyone works well together.”


“My sister Margo and I have created a unique concept where we have never compromised on quality. This condition, along with other important core values, are fixed in the handbook of St. Paul. For example, we also always want to be able to pull our own weight and be in charge! And in doing so, we focus on what we are good at and dare to outsource things we are less good at,” says Dieter. Tim: “For the future, we have big plans. I can’t tell much about it yet, but innovation is obviously a common thread here. And we will enter a new phase when my father steps out of the business, but that’s for the future. We are learning a lot from each other.” Dieter responds: “I have gained a lot of practical experience over the years. Nice to pass this on to my children now so they can continue with St. Paul and can pass it on to their children.” Sabrina: “Our sons are already eager to do holiday work with grandpa. Ideally, we want them to gain experience somewhere else, just as our parents encouraged us. But we also know how that ended for us…”

Home Blog Meet the family behind St. Paul