With its camera-controlled hoeing machine, the Dutch company Steketee has built a name for itself as a niche provider in agricultural weed control – and so was a perfect fit for the portfolio of the agricultural heavyweight LEMKEN. In order to meet the process standards and KPIs customary at its new German parent company as quickly as possible after the take-over, Steketee’s Managing Director, Iljan Schouten, set to work with Staufen to restructure the company. With success! And to ensure that the company can continue on its growth trajectory, Steketee will even move into a new factory in the year ahead. Goed gedaan! Well done!
However thorough the preparations, residual risks and take-overs are never far apart. Different production environments and corporate cultures can mean that the merger does not proceed as originally planned. This could also have happened with the Steketee and LEMKEN merger: “As a result of the innovative products and a motivated young workforce the potential was huge. But the processes and structures were missing or differed from the demanding LEMKEN standard”, was how Managing Director Schouten summarized the situation at that time. Therefore, immediately after the take-over in 2018 Schouten started the restructuring to align the organization more closely with the parent company’s requirements.
Saving herbicides in a way that make economic sense
The expectations placed on the highly innovative and formerly owner-managed company were high. The camera technology developed by Steketee itself enables their hoeing machines to recognize individual plants and uproot the weeds mechanically. Farmers were therefore able to save on herbicides – to their own financial benefit and the general benefit of the environment. There were no question marks raised against the products and their underlying technology after the take-over and they fitted perfectly into the LEMKEN portfolio. However, the reorganization of the processes reminiscent of a workshop could not be delayed.
Machinefabriek Steketee B.V.
As Managing Director of the Crop Care Business Group, Iljan Schouten is in charge of Steketee, the Netherlands-based subsidiary of LEMKEN. Before he joined the hoeing technology specialist, the agricultural machinery expert occupied key positions in agribusinesses such as the Kverneland Group and Schuitemaker Machines B.V.
Iljan Schouten therefore had to address a whole series of challenges at the same time:
- retaining the high level of motivation among the Dutch staff and dispelling their misgivings about their new German owner,
- reorganizing structures and production processes, and
- maintaining the steady growth trajectory,
- all without losing sight of profitability.
It was evident from the outset that Steketee’s technology and innovation-driven product range also had to be reflected in the internal processes. Schouten therefore set about implementing an ERP system and introduced a well-organized classification system along with documentation in the manufacturing bay.
We first had to create a basic structure before we could take the next step alongside Staufen.Iljan Schouten
Managing director, Machinefabriek Steketee B.V.
“We first had to create a basic structure before we could take the next step alongside Staufen” Schouten explained. “We joined forces at the beginning of 2021 to start a top-down/bottom up analysis. This gave us a foundation for the rapid and pragmatic identification of the changes we had to make and then optimize in the subsequent implementation project.” In the course of the joint work in the project team the operations, purchasing, R&D and finance functions were the subject of particular analysis by experts in each field. Success soon arrived – including financial success. LEMKEN Managing Director Anthony van der Ley: “This development spectacularly demonstrates that we got the take-over absolutely right. With its team of young talented people and more experienced colleagues, Steketee is making a major contribution to shaping an environmentally friendly transformation in agriculture using new technologies and particular artificial intelligence.”
Developing full potential with a new factory
The timing of the successful completion of the restructuring and the accompanying significant increase in the financial performance was perfect as the lease for the old factory expires in 2023. Plans therefore had to be made for the future, and as LEMKEN has a policy of manufacturing in buildings it owns, the Group decided to go for a new building costing EUR 18 million for which Staufen also provided consultancy and planning services. “With its new factory in Dinteloord close to the present site in South Holland, Steketee will be able develop its potential and use the optimization tools to their full effect. All the processes and worksteps we restructured or will restructure will then be fine-tuned to suit the new optimized manufacturing environment”, said Staufen consultant Christian Sprenger.
That Steketee was now finally accepted into the LEMKEN family with the values it has upheld for almost 250 years was made very clear by LEMKEN owner Nicola Lemken on the occasion of the announcement of the future site in spring 2022: “We are delighted that we have found a site close to the old one so that all the staff can move to their jobs in the new site without problems.”
Machinefabriek Steketee B.V. is one of the leading companies in the area of weed control in closely targeted agriculture with its focus on intelligent camera concepts for automatic machine control. The Dutch company has been part of the LEMKEN Group since 2018.
Take-Over trough LEMKEN Group
Project-Related increase in EBIT Margin
2021 as compared to 2020 (in percentage points)