"A healthy profit and growth has always been our strength"
The Dutch branch of the worldwide hydraulics company ARGO-HYTOS B.V. started off the year 2014 in brand new premises that officially opened its doors in mid-December. The history leading up to this festive event involves the type of success story that has become almost a cliché; a story that started cautiously back in 1998, in an attic room at the home of the company’s Managing Director Henk Jantzen. Today, 15 years later, the company has a staff of 15, and a realistic potential of expanding to 20 members of staff. With this in mind, a conscious choice was made for the location of the new premises on Industrieweg in Maassluis, where expansion and growth are possible.
Henk Jantzen gave his career a lift, both literally and metaphorically, when, almost immediately after he graduated, he started working for the Van Swaay lift company. After a short period of time, in 1978, he took up a new position as a commercial office worker in the hydraulics department of Doedijns, a company trading in pneumatics, hydraulics and instrumentation. He went on to work as a field representative. From there he became a sales and applications engineer, and eventually head of the hydraulic components and systems department. When the family business Doedijns BV was sold to Berendsen PMC in 1990, he supervised the integration of Doedijns Hydraulics and hydraulics company Transhydro from Weesp (the Netherlands), which had also been purchased by Berendsen PMC. The leadership skills shown by Henk Jantzen in this period did not go unnoticed, and in 1998 he was approached by Christian Kienzle, CEO of the FSP holding in Switzerland, who asked Jantzen to set up an organisation for the Benelux. That organisation was FSP Benelux BV, which Henk Jantzen, with a palette of FSP products, took charge of from the attic of his own home.
Profit and growth
The company developed rapidly. After just six months, the company was making a profit and premises were rented on the Zwarte Zee at Maassluis business park. In the years that followed, the premises were expanded twice and the company name was changed from FSP Benelux BV to ARGO-HYTOS Nederland BV. ‘The strength of ARGO-HYTOS has always been in making a healthy profit’, Henk Jantzen told us. ‘We have always managed to achieve excellent annual profit margins, even making a profit during the years of economic downturn. In fact, in 2009, the year that the crisis was at its height, our profit was initially even higher than expected. We like to stay on top of things, as it were, and make sure we provide optimum service and support.’
From trading house to engineering company
As trade began to stabilise, demand for products with increasingly complex systems grew significantly. In a short space of time, the company went from being a trading house in hydraulic components to a modern and contemporary hydraulics company, whose main focus had shifted to engineering. The production activities developed accordingly. High-quality technical applications for complex hydraulic systems are now an integral part of the daily manufacturing practice.
These comprise primarily custom-made drive manifolds and advanced filter and sensor techniques. Much attention is given to the improvement, simplification and, last but not least, total energy management of the system.
As far as the future is concerned, Henk Jantzen sees even greater challenges. ‘The market is much bigger than our capacity’, he said. ‘There is very little technical education available in the Netherlands, and practically no specific hydraulics training. Our sector is in need of people with good secondary and/or higher education in engineering and technology who have also trained in mechanical engineering and/or electronics. Nevertheless, I do expect to see further development and integration of drive manifolds and sensor technology, but there is also great potential in the field of programmable drive electronics.’
Products for a wider range of clients
Argo-Hytos Nederland clients are incredibly loyal to the company. People like to do business with Argo-Hytos thanks to its high degree of commitment, expertise and reliability, but also thanks to the system software that connects Argo-Hytos branches all over the world, enabling them to work together. Every month, a meeting is held in which the exchange of knowledge and product development are always high on the agenda. It is during this ‘design review’ that issues are dealt with such as whether specific customer-proposed product ideas will go on to be manufactured or not. Argo-Hytos has set itself the worldwide objective of ensuring that everything it manufactures is of use to multiple clients. Henk Jantzen plays a leading role within this consultative body; his opinion counts when it comes to decision-making.
Ready for the future
The Argo-Hytos premises have significantly changed the face of Industrieweg in Maassluis, and although the company has brand new office buildings along the roadside, the architect has made clever use of the existing building. The low concourse that originally led right up to the road was partially demolished to make way for a modern office building. Behind the new building, the remaining part of the concourse was renovated into an efficient and productive warehouse with space for test and dispatch facilities. A secure private parking area was also created at the rear of the premises.
ARGO-HYTOS Nederland is all set for the future.