Gerben Wansink – CEO, Maats – Netherlands
Maats’s CEO explains the company’s ambitions for continued global growth in onshore and upstream, what makes Maats stand apart from its competitors, and the exciting technologies the company brings to the industry.
How has the company evolved in the past five years?
Wilhelm Gerrit Maats founded Maats in 1981 as a trader in heavy equipment for mainly export markets and he soon added on the concept of renting equipment to contractors. This business model proved quite successful, but, in the last decade, Mr. Maats recognized that in many markets it was becoming increasingly difficult to sell and rent machinery without an added value. Our team thus decided to move from a portfolio of other company products to a portfolio focused around our own value-added equipment. Five years ago, we were building only 20 percent of the products we supplied to clients, whereas today we supply approximately 80 percent in-house products.
Taking note of what our clients were demanding, Maats decided to offer real solutions by tweaking the existing machinery and developing our own brand of pipeline equipment.
Since quality is a major concern for ourselves and our clients, we decided to create new innovative machines and further expand our collaborations with other companies. For instance many of our in-house products are produced based on the Swiss based Liebherr Machines or with the use of Liebherr components. By combining both our qualities and expertises, we are able to offer products that no other industry player can compete with.
Moreover, we have done away with the majority of our older rental equipment that did not bring the added features that our clients want and appreciate. Having a new rental fleet, in which the average machine is now less than five years old, allows us to remain competitive, especially in terms of the latest standards & technology, safety, comfort, and exhaust emission. In contrast, our competitors have machines that are on average 20 years old. Overall, we are focused on maintaining a topnotch rental fleet with high standards and high reliability that translates into less maintenance and downtime. For example, we can now guarantee a certain amount of hours of uptime per month because of the high reliability our machines bring to projects around the world.
Maats is the sales representative for Liebherr’s line of pipeline equipment. How has this business relationship helped push Maats to the next level?
Although we build more of our own machines, our business relationship with Liebherr has continually evolved and strengthened since the 1990s. We sell Liebherr products, as well develop joint technologies, which allow both companies to gain market advantages. Moreover, our joint venture offers our clients the Liebherr products they know and trust, as well as get the added value Maats provides. Furthermore, this relationship is fundamental to our business strategy because we both understand that adapting to our clients’s demands on a globale-level, is a necessary aspect to remaining competitive in today’s market.
What sets Maats apart from your competitors?
We are constantly trying to innovate in developing and engineering of new equipment and improve exisiting equipment by adding the latest technology to our machinery, such as load indicators, sensors, and even enclosed cabins with air conditioning. These extra-added features give assurance to our customers around the globe where regulations exist and give their employees comfort they might not find elsewhere. For example, in Russia it is required that load indicators be included on the machines, and, although they are not required elsewhere, we include them on all our machines because it provides added value and safety for our clients. We also pride ourselves on providing a wide range of machines and additional equipment with different sizes and in-house solutions and also provide a one-stop-shop so that our customers have the added value of not having to outsource for things such as delivery, pickup and maintenance.
What makes Maats employees so special?
We have a relatively young staff with a good eye for quality and innovation. For support and velopment of new ideas and solutions, we work with local universities, such as the University of Twente, where we work directly with young graduates. We also staff individuals with years of experience whose ability to transmit knowledge to our younger staff is fundamental to the company’s development. The combination of newer and younger staff has helped place the company at the forefront of the pipeline equipment rental and sales industry because it brings a unique blend of knowledge and ambition to the organization.
What is the strategic importance of being a Dutch equipment supplier and services provider, despite less expensive production rates elsewhere?
The Netherlands offers a tremendous amount of knowledge in a small geographic region. We have a unique range of high quality research and technology companies at our disposal that we can work closely together with when developing new equipment and solutions.
These small, yet fundamental, differences are what make Maats unique around the globe. If we opted to produce our machines elsewhere it would be a lot cheaper, but the knowledge base is limited. For example, we have a facility in Indonesia that assists for instance in welding, but when it comes to more advanced technologies, such as hydraulic systems, we cannot outsource because many of our technologies require extreme attention to detail that is pertinent to the local Dutch market. Hence, maintaining our base in the Netherlands is necessary to our company’s success and to ensure uniformity across our entire fleet.
What geographic regions are you targeting to expand the company’s growth?
We have exciting upcoming projects around the globe in Greece, Canada, Asia and Turkey. Our involvement in the Turkish market began in the early 2000s with the BTC (Baku – Tblisi – Cheyan) project where we had a comprehensive number of units rented out. In order to better serve the needs of our clients we opened six locations throughout Turkey, which are a big advantage with the current activities in Turkey. Our international reach has expanded over the years and as the current leader of the organization I hope to continue to take the company to next level of success around the globe!
What new technologies are you introducing to the market that would interest our global readers?
Our involvement in the industry keeps our knowledge up to date and allows us to keep up with developments and new technologies in all areas. Besides several custom tailored solutions, one of the latest examples of new technologie is the way we engineered our bending equipment. The increase in steel quality of the landlines being build with the same wall thicknesses as before, means that these pipes are tougher to bend. The problems we saw in the field (breakdown of equipment, difficulties bending pipe) led our engineers to the drawing board, resulting in the Maats BM-program. The ‘new technology’ is mainly in the way we engineered and the materials we used for construction of the machines and has lead to bending machines with a unique high capacity and strength to bend modern pipe specifications and beyond, making the Maats bending machines truly ready for the future.
How much of your profits are funneled back into research and development?
The company’s focus on how much we invest into research and development depends year-to-year. Generally, we invest approximately 15 percent back into technological developments because it consistently allows our company to grow and branch out into market niches we might not have otherwise known about. Moreover, it helps us anticipate the future demands of our customers.
As CEO of the company, what do you do to promote innovative processes around your global operations?
The company culture at Maats is open and transparent. I believe that by allowing our employees the ability to raise their concerns, I can understand the demands of our clients more easily. This often rare and special work culture allows creativity to spawn in all branches of the organization. We also have employees that attend various meetings and functions around the globe where we get to interact with clients first-hand and learn about market demands. We take it one step further, by asking operators who use our machines to send us feedback regarding what improvements they would like to see.
What motivates you and where do you hope to see the company in five years?
As leader of the organization, I recognize that the oil and gas industry is very conservative, but by introducing improved technologies I believe we will better be able to enhance our products and lead the industry into its next phase. Currently, we are trying to increase our rental fleet as well as collaborate on upstream and downstream projects. We recently became involved in an upstream project in the Caspian Sea. I hope to continue joining forces with international players on various projects across the industry.