Third generation at the helm of Janssen Group Maastricht
‘After eleven years it still takes some getting used to’
Flatbed trailers, dumpers, excavator and bulldozers: there is little left to remind you of the farm that was once located on the site of the Janssen Group in Maastricht. Nevertheless, this successful family business has its roots in Beatrixhaven, which is currently an industrial area. The international earth-moving company was transferred to the third generation Janssen at the beginning of October.
‘Sugar beets formerly had to be processed by hand,’ explains Willy Janssen, who transferred the company together with his brothers Marcel and Hub. ‘When my father bought the very first front-loading tractor, the idea was born to start scooping up the beets using a mechanically. That would save a lot of labour. Local business asked them for help, including the nearby stone crushing firm. That was the start of our company.’
‘We will be celebrating our fiftieth anniversary in 2015. The tractor has since been replaced by an extensive collection of machines and vehicles. We rent machines, with or without an operator, carry out excavation work for civil engineering projects and have a storage and transshipment terminal for construction and waste materials. We started thinking about what we would want to do “later on” as early as in 2003. Would we stop working? Take our children into the business? “Later” kept coming closer. At the beginning of October my brother Marcel’s three sons (Christian, Joshua and Pascal) and my brother Hub’s son (Mischa) took over the business.’
Willy: ‘M&A specialist Aeternus handled the valuation, and supervised the entire financing as well as the succession process.’ ‘It was very important to involve a corporate finance specialist who was open to discussing all the issues that came up during the process,’ explains Christian Janssen. ‘The smallest details could result in the most heated discussions. In the end, absolutely everything was discussed and resolved.’ Joshua and Misha agree: ‘Transparency, perseverance and a willingness to put all the cards on the table are all very important in a family business like ours. It’s all very sensitive. An experienced advisor makes all the difference.’
Willy: ‘We will be passing on the proverbial baton with confidence. But it still takes some getting used to. For 50 years this family has cherished sand, soil, grit and rocks – but that doesn’t mean we have a heart of stone. My two brothers and I are very emotionally involved in this succession. It is and remains a family business, but we had make numerous arrangements to facilitate the succession. If you’re considering passing on the family business: do it in due time and always make sure you retain the services of an advisor.’