Roderik van Seumeren – Managing Partner & Natasja Sesink – Operational Partner, MeeMakenBV – Netherlands
Roderik van Seumeren and Natasja Sesink explain the origins and strategy of MeeMaken, as well as the spirit they foster in their four portfolio companies to bring more innovation into a conservative industry.
What were your initial aspirations in starting MeeMaken?
Roderik van Seumeren (RS): When I left Mammoet in 2011, it was a big step for me, especially coming from a family company of 4,000 people across 40 countries and generating 1 billion USD in annual turnover. I then took it upon myself to further my education and strengthen my own intellectual assets by completing a MBA. I spent seven to eight months studying day in and day out. In one of the books I was studying from, the name MeeMaken came to me. There is no succinct English equivalent for MeeMaken, but it basically means ‘wanting to be a part of it.’ Our initial idea was to form a fund comprised of ten companies in five years’ time. We are now three years in and have only four, so we are not up to speed in that respect, but we are in no particular hurry. We will focus on building up the core capabilities of MeeMaken’s current portfolio companies first, before pursuing further expansion initiatives.
What is your vision behind MeeMaken?
Natasja Sesink (NS): MeeMaken’s portfolio is comprised of four companies thus far. The first one is Selmers, which we discussed in depth with EnergyBoardroom. The second one is Euro-Rigging, which is an engineering and consulting company active in the field of heavy mechanical engineering in the widest sense of the word with specific know-how in the field of systems for lifting and transport. When we bought it, there were only 20 employees, and now there are 45 employees, with locations in the Netherlands, Turkey, Brazil, and Texas. We are developing the company from engineering consulting to engineering and building. We have several jobs already where we design the equipment and we build the equipment on the lifting and transport side for our clients—ultimately we focus on providing our clients with a total solution. So, we changed the company from only engineers to engineers and builders.
Then we have Alltec Lifting Systems in Dickinson, Texas, whose mission is to be the American leading, independent below the hook lifting equipment supplier, engineering and consultancy firm for construction and utilization of heavy lift & transport equipment. Rigging Rental, Engineering&Consultancy and Projects Solutions, including design and construction of specialized rigging equipment, as well as non-routine and offshore solutions, are Alltec’s main field of expertise. To ensure that all crane and rigging projects are executed safely and efficiently, from start to finish, Alltec supplies projects with advanced equipment, experienced and qualified on-site management, and professional support. The company, run by Larry Bonin, one of our former colleagues, employs a qualified staff of engineers to provide our clients with Lift Planning and Design to handle the most complicated lifts within the industry.
The fourth company is BeOne Development Group, an online training platform providing digital learning solutions such as e-learning modules and tests related to information security, compliance, legal matters, safety, health, environment and quality (SHE&Q) as well as function related training. Led by Natasja, BeOne Development boasts an expansive portfolio of innovative and multilingual learning solutions catering to more than six million end users in more 100 countries worldwide.
How do you plan on concentrating the portfolio of companies, what is your strategy?
RS: Our original strategy was to not push synergies between companies. It could be that we change our mind in this respect, however. We believe more that the synergy comes from the people themselves, and, if we push it from the top, it will not succeed. It may be that we underestimate synergies, but we do believe that it has to come organically, naturally.
NS: Our company culture is in line with the Dutch spirit of collaboration—working closely with everyone. We are internationally focused, we speak many different languages, and we are very outward looking. Moreover, we work very well with other cultures: we listen and we understand why people from different cultures, act in different ways.
What sets MeeMaken apart from other types of investment vehicles? Why do companies appreciate an investment from MeeMaken?
NS: We think it’s because we are a hybrid between a family company and a private equity. Financials are important, of course, but that is an outcome of a good strategy and a well-run company based on personal values. Our time intervals are much longer than a typical private equity fund, in that we grow people and companies with a genuine interest in long-term success rather than a short-term profit. MeeMaken also adds value both in terms of the operational expertise we can bring in to aid companies, as well as the strong network of our management team. One of our focuses within each new company is to add all associated support functions to ensure smoother operations. For example, we will implement human resources, IT, finance or a training department to strengthen companies beyond their core technological capacity.
What is your long-term vision for MeeMaken?
RS: I would like my children to have a hand in it, and I would eventually like to hand it over to them. Family company values are very important to the Dutch. Still over half the companies in the Netherlands are family run, which is quite unique and special for a very advanced economy.