“That, of course, has by now become
the factory of the world.”
I am sitting in the car listening to BNR. The reporter is talking about China, the factory of the world. Driving to one of our branches, occasionally I have some time to spare to think. About the past year, when the news was dominated by COVID-19. A time when, in our company too, colleagues were asked to work from home if they could. Yes, technically they could, at least some of the employees. For it is hard to manufacture our bridges and buildings in a home office. So part is done at home and part at work. The microphone and the camera provided the connection. We had to do something, so we had to buckle down to it. Just like the rest of the Netherlands. And let it be clear that we also thought that was the best way to ensure the safety and health of our employees.
But China, the factory of the world? Our country, too, has a rich history with regard to industry. For example, shipbuilding, textile industry, agricultural mechanisation and our infrastructure and offshore industries. Trade and industry, the two are often bracketed together. But it seems as if we are slightly forgetting industry. For example, when you listen to the government’s communication, where working from home is named as the standard, without paying attention to the many jobs where it is not possible at all. And when you listen to media who reinforce rather than differentiate this image.
Imagery is often so beautiful. Those who are good at it only need a few words. Just as China is portrayed as “the factory of the world”, the Netherlands is often called a “knowledge economy”. The country where we have to rely on ‘doing things just a little smarter’. However, let us not forget that technology must be made and used by people. And that is not always possible from a home office. Your car, your house, your smartphone and your food cannot exist without technology and not without the professionals who have chosen to grow it, produce it, deliver it or maintain it. So I would like to differentiate that picture of the Dutch in their home offices and China with its factories. The Dutch manufacturing industry is too fine for that. And it wouldn’t hurt to get a little more attention, also from our government.
We are doing it together. Technically, a lot can be solved with a camera and a microphone, but for a real connection we need more. If I have learned anything this year, it is that teamwork, commitment and trust really comes from meeting each other. Sure, our group did well financially in 2020. We are grateful to our people and permanent partners for that. But it is of paramount importance to meet each other, to pay attention to each other. That is why this annual report devotes a lot of space to our people and their professionalism. And in our new strategy 2024, there is plenty of focus on teamwork, talent and technology. Because technology is the future. If I have even the slightest influence in putting technology in the spotlight, I will take the opportunity. Hoping that a good example will lead the way. Will you join us?
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to draw your attention to technology made in Holland!
Technology, made in Holland
About GB Steel Group
The power of togetherness
GB Steel Group consists of a group of five steel processing divisions supplying the international construction, mechanical engineering and transport sector. With a turnover of € 67 million and 320 employees, the group is one of the top 20 companies in the Dutch manufacturing industry. We serve customers in various market segments and carry out a variety of projects. Ranging from steel, roof and façade constructions to bridges and locks, and from recycling plants to tippers and containers, the group literally and figuratively puts a lot of work into steel. A wealth of experience combined in a sound and solid company, where the customer benefits from lower risks and lower failure costs.
revenue growth 2015-2020
Specialising in strong steelwork
Kampstaal is a household name when it comes to steel constructions for non-residential construction and industry. In the Netherlands and far beyond, Kampstaal has supplied complex supporting structures for car parks, data centres and other non-residential buildings for more than forty years. But we also produce stairs, platforms and constructions for our electricity network at our locations in Emmeloord and Meppel. Regular and new customers appreciate Kampstaal for its high-quality constructions, reliability, flexibility and experienced project management. In 2020, Kampstaal worked on several projects, including the Genneper Park car park near Eindhoven, a facility for Vattenfall for the district heating of Amsterdam and data centres around Amsterdam
employees (including Kampstaal Meppel)
m2 production area (including Kampstaal Meppel)
revenue growth 2015-2020
Building partner in roof and façade constructions
Kamplacon has many years of experience in sustainable roof and façade constructions, with or without solar panels. With an enthusiastic and experienced team of mechanics, engineers and project leaders, Kamplacon is active in the construction of data centres, distribution centres and other non-residential buildings. Our claddings offer quick and attractive solutions for new development, renovation and maintenance projects. Kamplacon can significantly speed up construction by using prefabricated façades. The user will then sooner be able to use the building.
Moreover, prefabricated construction is completely modular and can be disassembled and the quality is higher because the panels are produced in an indoor climate. Kamplacon often works together with its sister company Kampstaal, increasingly taking on the complete construction of foundations, steel and cladding. As a result, building management is simpler for the customer, allowing them to focus on its regular day-to-day management. In 2020, Kamplacon worked on several projects, including data centres around Amsterdam, a new facility for Nestlé in Nunspeet and the installation of solar panels on many roofs.
solar panels installed in 2020
revenue growth 2015-2020
The specialist in customised transport solutions
Vossebelt is a leading company with more than 40 years of experience in the production of tippers and waste disposal containers. In addition, Vossebelt has specialised in manufacturing belt unloaders, cover systems and special constructions over the years. In Geesbrug, Vossebelt has four production halls with a total surface area of over 5000 square metres. Here Vossebelt works with modern production techniques and an expert team on customised solutions for the transport sector and government. Vossebelt manufactures all products completely in-house and takes care of the entire process; from design and manufacture to assembly and delivery. As a result Vossebelt is quick and flexible and can continue to guarantee the high quality of its products. Also in the field of repair and maintenance Vossebelt offers full-service. Thus Vossebelt always provides its customers with a suitable solution and every specific request can be carried out as desired.
tippers and containers (annually)
revenue growth 2015-2020
Building on 150 years of experience
Staalbouw Nauta is building on 150 years of experience. A foundation for the successful future of our steel company. We supply complex steel structures, focusing mainly on fenders, bridges and locks, offshore construction and other heavy-duty structures for industry, infrastructure, tank and equipment construction. With an indoor hoisting capacity of up to 80 tonnes, a preserver nearby and a location on open waterways, Staalbouw Nauta can take on big jobs. In 2020, Nauta worked on projects, including a splendid bicycle bridge in Oirschot and some four fenders for KTB Rotterdam. The industry was also served in 2020, for example with a sizeable tank for the offshore.
hoisting capacity in tonnes
length of own loading and unloading quay
Mechanical engineer in recycling, infrastructure and more
MF Emmen is a dynamic metal working company with some 63 employees. Over the years, the company has won its spurs in infrastructure technology, recycling technology and machine building. It developed an expertise in infrastructure engineering by building bridges and locks. Also in the field of recycling MF Emmen is a strong player with products such as drum screens and air separators. With its extensive machinery, MF Emmen is also active for customers in industry, from energy to food technology. MF Emmen offers overall solutions for all these customers and has a project-driven organisation to do so. The organisation innovates on existing products and is equipped to work internationally and to deal with different forms of contracts. With a wide range of in-house disciplines, far-reaching mechanical knowledge and the necessary certifications, MF Emmen is a reliable partner in the market. MF Emmen realises various projects throughout the Netherlands and far beyond. In 2020, MF Emmen worked, among other things, on the construction of a large recycling plant for waste processor Omrin and the renovation of the bridge at Follega.
m2 production area
Working safely, we motivate our employees to be aware of the risks at all times. Our motto is: ‘Safe mode ON’.
Working safely is a top priority at GB Steel Group. We work safely or we do not work at all! That is why we commit ourselves to continuously improve safety awareness within our organisation. We share knowledge, apply a strict safety policy and encourage employees always to be aware of safety risks. Where necessary, we take measures to prevent unsafe situations.
That is how we want to reduce the number of unsafe events, with in fewer incidents (absence, injuries) as a result. In addition, the group considers the employees’ health, safety and job satisfaction very important. We continue therefore to invest in creating a safe environment.
Quality through professionalism
We strive for improvement in everything we do. That is why we are driven and open to new challenges, and want to continuously expand our knowledge. Which is necessary, too, as our sector is constantly changing and we are increasingly faced with complex social issues. As an organisation, we set high standards for quality and want to realise high-quality and sustainable products for our customers as efficiently as possible. We manufacture our products entirely in-house. This enables us to continue to guarantee a very high level of quality in addition to good service and appropriate customised solutions.
Not only are we building beautiful projects but also long-term relationships with our customers. We create trust by showing our customers that we deliver quality and are an experienced partner to work with. We believe it is important to do business in an open and fair way. We listen to our customers, make clear agreements and live up to them. We do not only go for this, we also stand for it.
Respect for people and the environment
As a group, we want to contribute to a greener and healthier Netherlands. This means that we are building a future-proof living environment in the most sustainable way possible. We do this by making well-considered choices in our business operations, which are based on our principle of doing business sustainably, responsibly and with respect for people and the environment. In addition, we pay great attention to good working conditions for our employees, conducting our business fairly and engaging in social activities by supporting good causes.
Board of directors
Although the companies operate in the market under their own name and are also operationally managed independently with their own management teams, cooperation and synergy within GB Steel Group is an increasingly important theme. GB Steel Group is managed by a management team made up of the division directors, a group controller and a general manager. In addition, several cross-company teams are active so that we can continue to develop in the areas of human capital, QHSE management systems, automation and IT. In order to ensure continuous growth, a three-man board of directors was formed at the end of 2019 over and above the management team, which, besides Bob Soetekouw as the managing director of GB Steel Group, consists of Rieks Jansen as the commercial director and Wouter Faber as the technical director of GB Steel Group. Rieks Jansen will mainly focus on exploiting synergy on a commercial level and Wouter Faber will coordinate the technical innovations within the group.
The quality of our employees is decisive for our service, development and growth. We therefore attach great importance to talent development and the creation of a safe and inspiring working environment within our organisation.
GB Steel Group as employer
In the construction sector, there is a high demand for (technical) staff and the supply is under pressure. This makes it a major challenge to attract new employees. Yet this is important for us. Both the rapid growth of our organisations and the growth of our projects in both size and complexity require additional skilled and technically trained staff. Therefore, we want to attract, retain and help develop talented students and staff. We do this not only by strengthening our own position as an attractive employer, but also by working together with other companies in our line of business to improve the image of the construction sector.
In order to give the manufacturing industry in the Noordoostpolder a boost, we launched the Noordoostpolder Innovation Cluster in 2020. Together with nine companies in the manufacturing industry, we have joined forces to tackle the challenge. In addition to the goal of kindling enthusiasm in schoolchildren and students for working in engineering, we also want to share our knowledge, let our employees develop and innovate together.
Investing in young talent
GB Steel Group also wants to enthuse young talent about working in engineering. As a work placement company, we offer challenging practical training and working places and, together with the student, we map out a suitable learning pathway. Students can come to us for training at a BBL-2 to an HBO level. Last year, nine of our colleagues successfully completed their training within our organisation. A great achievement! We have also worked closely with schools and several training institutes on various technical courses in the past year. We are also trying kindle enthusiasm in the very young target group. That is why we want to open our doors regularly to primary and secondary school pupils so that we can proudly show how wonderful a job in engineering can be!
In 2020, as in previous years, safety was one of our main pillars. We have therefore put a lot of effort into further encouraging safe working practices within our organisation and we aim to be certified for the nationally recognised Safety Culture Ladder in 2021. Last year, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, we faced entirely new challenges in the area of “safe work”. Employees had to face working at a one-and-a-half-metres distance of each other, working from home and extra hygiene measures.
More than ever, we rely on the personal responsibility of our employees. Thanks to the dedication and commitment of our employees, we were able to react flexibly. Together, we created a new working environment where one-and-a-half-metres distance is the standard and where we were able to work in accordance with the RIVM and the government rules. This allowed our production process and our services to our customers to continue in the safest possible way.
Our service provision
2020 started well with a well-filled order book. We started with a number of special projects including data centres, bridges and (modular) car parks. In addition, we have worked hard on the construction of recycling plants, fenders and customised solutions for the transport sector, among other things. In each project we want to take as much responsibility for our customer’s needs as we can. That is why in our organisation we take care of the entire process; from design and manufacture to assembly on site. Our engineers, structural engineers and project leaders help customers in detail to execute their plans within budget and planning. Where necessary, we work closely together within the group with our various divisions. We share knowledge and expertise to work as efficiently as possible and to offer our customers smart and sustainable solutions.
Within the GB Steel Group, we strive to realise high-quality and sustainable products for our customers as efficiently as possible. Improving the (environmental) quality of our activities and processes is therefore also a theme that we are constantly working on in our organisations. We also demonstrate this by the certifications we have obtained as a group, namely the ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and VCA** certificates, supplemented by CE 1090 certificates at divisional level. These certifications show that, as a group, we take responsibility for the environment, comply with the highest standards of quality management and work in accordance with generally applicable safety procedures.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Corporate Social Responsibility is an integral part of our corporate strategy. Within our group, we are aware of the impact of our activities on our environment. Our CSR policy is aimed at a maximum reduction of this impact.
In our group, sustainability and respect for the environment are inextricably linked to the realisation of our projects. In all our work, we want to minimise the impact on the climate. Not only for the present-day society, also for the generations to come. Therefore, we have already taken many steps in recent years to monitor and reduce our energy consumption and waste streams. We generate sustainable energy by using solar panels (from Kamplacon), we stimulate recycling by circular building and we focus on electric driving. By doing so, we want to reduce our CO2 emissions further and promote the reuse of materials. We think it is important that we take responsibility for this as a group and work together for a clean, green and safe living environment.
A good example of circular building: this car park was in Delft originally and it was rebuilt at Dierenpark Amersfoort.
Our objective was to emit 37% less CO2 in 2020 compared to 2015. At the end of 2020 we have already saved as much as 43%. The saving is equivalent to the energy consumption of 108 households.
Results of the previous financial year
We look back in satisfaction on the group results of 2020. After the successful years of 2016 to 2019, we were cautious about expectations due to the corona pandemic and the nitrogen and PFAS issues. Furthermore, after the acquisition of MF Emmen, we wanted to work on integration into the group and stabilisation of the results there.
The results exceeded expectations. At EUR 67 million, turnover was roughly the same and the net result was only slightly lower than in 2019. This is felt to be very strong in times of the PFAS and nitrogen debate and the corona pandemic. The good results of the past few years make for an enterprise with high solvability, which, partly due to the raising of a new long-term loan, is slightly lower than in 2020 at 55%. With over 18%, the return on equity is still excellent. Favourable results and a thorough investment policy also ensure a healthy cash flow and liquidity position. Attracting additional financial resources was not immediately necessary for the acquisition or short-term investments, but in times of a pandemic, it provides more security for investments in growth in the longer term. The above resulted in a very healthy cash flow and liquidity position. This makes GB Steel Group a highly reliable partner in the construction, transport and machinery industries.
Turnover and profit on equity capital
Infra-marine steel construction Commercial-industrial structures & cladding
Return on equity
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global economy was expected to wane. To what extent was still unknown, but last year we took into account that our turnover could also decline. That is why we have been putting our investments on hold. In 2020, we invested mainly in buildings and machinery. Nauta and Vossebelt have jointly invested in a welding robot installation which was put into operation at Vossebelt in Geesbrug early in 2020. With modern offline programming software, the welding robot is ideally suited to automatically weld single pieces and small series of semi-finished products. Kampstaal and Kamplacon have jointly invested in a new assembly hall with office space. With this new hall we will be able to cooperate even more intensively and speed up the production process of prefabricated façades. The hall also has 50 tonnes of lifting capacity.
The new assembly hall of Kampstaal and Kamplacon.
Investments 2019, 2020 and 2021
X € 1.000
2019 2020 2021 (prognosis)
Debt / EBITDA
Return on equity
At GB Steel Group, young talent is given the opportunity to fully develop.
Return on equity
Active in data centre construction
Last year, we took a big leap forward in the construction of data centre projects. With our divisions Kampstaal and Kamplacon, we have participated in several data centre projects in the Netherlands and abroad. Kampstaal supplied the complete steel structures and Kamplacon took care of the roof and wall cladding. By using prefabricated façades, we have been able to significantly speed up the construction of these projects. To be able to respond even better to the increasing demand for prefab construction in the future, we built an assembly hall in 2020. With this new hall we will be able to cooperate even more intensively and speed up the production process of prefabricated façades.
National and international projects
In addition to the construction of data centres, we also carried out other major national and international projects in the past year. With MF Emmen, for example, we built drum screens for waste processing companies in France and Italy. But we also carried out some great projects for various customers in the Netherlands. At Nauta in Heeg, we worked hard on four fenders with a total length of no less than 725 metres and a weight of 1350 tonnes. The fenders serve as mooring facilities in the Port of Rotterdam and are suitable for both seagoing and inland shipping.
At Omrin in Heerenveen, we built the first Dano Drum. A unique and new concept, as this new separation plant converts household residual waste into biogas. At de Boer Staal in Uitgeest, Kamplacon supplied and installed 3,240 solar panels on the roof of the industrial unit (11,000 m2). The solar panels generate around 1 million kWh of electricity annually, which means that the company now uses 100% green electricity for all its business processes. In addition, annual CO2 emissions will be reduced by 530 tonnes. In short, a great project in which the customer has taken a big leap forward towards a sustainable business by using our solar panels.
First lorry tipper-crane on fully electric vehicle
Last year we had a first at Vossebelt! For our customer Vrijbloed Transport, we built the first lorry tipper crane in the Netherlands on a fully electric vehicle! It was a two-sided Vossebelt tipper with a HIAB crane on an electric Volvo 6×2 chassis. With this, an important step has been taken within the transport sector to reduce the use of fossil fuels as well as CO₂ emissions.
Transition to circular construction economy
With the ‘Netherlands Circular in 2050’ programme, the government aims to achieve a fully circular economy. We also want to take responsibility in this as a group. In the past year we worked on several circular projects. With Kampstaal and Kamplacon we worked on the construction of modular car parks in cities such as Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Rotterdam. But we did not only build them, but we also demolished one. Namely, the modular (demountable) car park in Amsterdam, which we built a number of years ago in cooperation with Ballast Nedam. The car park was completely dismantled so that it can be rebuilt elsewhere. This makes this project a very good example of circular and sustainable construction.
ISO 9001 certification now for the whole group
Improving the (environmental) quality of our products and processes is our constant focus at GB Steel Group. We are therefore very proud to announce that last year we obtained the ISO 9001 certification with GB Steel Group! Also our five divisions Kampstaal, Kamplacon, MF Emmen, Vossebelt and Nauta Heeg all have an ISO 9001 certificates. With this, we meet the highest standard in quality management with our entire group and thus demonstrate our ability to consistently deliver products and services that meet the needs and wishes of our customers. The ISO 9001 certification is also a very nice addition to the certificates that we previously obtained within our group in the areas of environment, quality and safety!
Automated welding technique
We put a lot of focus on improving production and welding techniques and are continuously looking for smart solutions. In 2020, for example, Nauta and Vossebelt jointly put a welding robot into operation. This enables us to automate the welding of single pieces and small series and to organise our production process even faster and more efficiently.
In the past year, we have gained a lot of experience by robotising the welding of various products and, together with our team, to see how this form of automation affects the speed and quality of the welding process. We are very enthusiastic about this and are already using the system frequently for various projects!
Manufacturing Industry Top 100:
from 33 to 18
Last year GB Steel Group strengthened its position in the Manufacturing Industry Top 100, the annual list of the most successful manufacturing companies in the Netherlands. In 2019, we still ranked at 33 on the list. Last year, we exceeded our own expectations and moved up to 18. The Manufacturing Industry Top 100 is a list of the 100 best performing Dutch manufacturing companies, compiled by business magazine Management Team in collaboration with consultancy firm CFI. The list is for companies with a Dutch parent company up to 500 million turnover that are financially stable, achieve healthy growth and lift Dutch industry to a higher level with innovative products. We are therefore enormously proud that our group has been included in this list for the fourth year in a row and now ranks among the top 20 most successful manufacturing companies in the Netherlands.
Our vision on trends and market developments
In times of health crisis, it becomes painfully clear how difficult it is to live together in a sustainable manner with the current population. At the same time, medical science and general prosperity are increasing life expectancy and thus population numbers. In our quest for happiness and well-being, we are asking too much of our planet with these numbers. The Netherlands is showing a shift from employment in industry and commerce to employment in the service sector. Industry is increasingly moving to places in the world where wages are lower. While the Netherlands continues to offer much added value in the smarter application of technology and, of course, especially in sectors where transport significantly contributes to the cost price, as is the case in construction and industry. This is partly due to the state of the art in automation and digitalisation, the so-called smart industry. The manufacturing industry in the Netherlands will thus retain its right to exist. That is why it is important to raise the profile of the real trade and craft. How wonderful it is to have created something tangible at the end of the day and to be working with the most beautiful tools every day!
Many of today’s trends and developments can be traced back to the above issues. These include climate, PFAS or nitrogen policy, the energy transition from fossil to renewable sources, circularity, ageing and sustainable employability, scarcity of technical staff, shortage of affordable housing, but also the increasing demand for leisure activities, convenience and ‘having the worries taken away’. It presents both threats and opportunities, to which we try to respond optimally with our strategy.
‘Thanks to smart industry, the manufacturing industry will retain its right to exist in the Netherlands’
The coronavirus has the world in its grip. Global chains, such as the steel chain, have been considerably disrupted by the lockdowns in the world. Shortages have occurred in the supply chains, possibly followed by additional demand to build up stocks to prevent future shortages. In the Netherlands, the volume of construction has hardly decreased, but construction projects are delayed due to the shortage of steel, wood and concrete. The shortages have not left our suppliers’ prices untouched. We see fair and transparent business, combined with thorough planning, as the two most important ways to get construction projects off the ground and support our loyal customers. Even though material prices are high, there is a lot of capital in the market and interest rates are historically low. Investing now in the expansion and sustainability of assets such as buildings, means of transport and installations is therefore attractive for end-users.
In spite of the pandemic and fluctuating material prices, there is quite a high demand in construction and industry. In non-residential construction and infrastructure, there is still a great demand for production facilities for the food industry, for sub-stations to extend our high-voltage grid and for data centres that are struggling to cope with the demand for data processing.
In constructive hydraulic engineering, we also see that renovation projects, that have taken longer due to nitrogen and PFAS issues, are finally completed now. If we want to exploit the location of the Netherlands as a logistic hotspot between the North Sea and Western Europe, we will have to make the many waterways suitable for larger inland vessels, for which Nauta’s fenders can do an excellent job. Slowly but surely, we are also seeing an increase in the demand for renovation of bridges and locks. Many of them date from the period 1950-1975 and it will have major consequences if maintenance and renovation are not carried out. The same applies, of course, to protecting our country against rising water levels with adjustments to dams and locks. Large and challenging tasks for which we can very well use the mechanical engineering expertise of MF Emmen and Nauta Heeg.
A modern approach to the historical bridge in Bourtange: MF Emmen manufactured the bridge road from composite materials.
The demand for transport equipment for road construction and recycling will also pick up in 2021. Transporters would like to make their fleet sustainable and compliant with the Euro 6 standard. Vossebelt offers customised solutions to load the cars in the best possible way and design them to be as light as possible to reduce fuel costs. After a decline in 2020, it is good to see that in 2021 demand has increased and larger series are being sold.
At MF Emmen we are also seeing an increase in the demand for recycling plants. Both inside and outside the Netherlands, the robust drum screens, air separators and conveyor belts are doing an excellent job of separating the growing waste stream. In addition, waste processors also see more potential in separating at the waste station rather than at the source, so that materials are separated really well. MF Emmen’s mechanical engineering knowledge and lathes and milling machines are also quite useful for customers operating in the transforming offshore and energy sectors. This includes installations and components for the oil and gas industry as well as wind energy.
2020 was the last year of our implementation of the 2018-2020 strategy period. In this strategic plan we expressed the ambition to grow to the top of the Dutch manufacturing industry. To achieve this objective we focused on four pillars: cooperation, sustainability, talent management and automation. We are proud that we grow according to plan; in 2020 GB Steel Group climbed to the 18th place in the Dutch manufacturing industry.
In 2021 we will start the new strategy period 2021-2024. The focus in this strategic plan will be on:
- strengthening our position in the market
- investing in sustainability, digitisation & innovation
- organisational and talent development
Leading market position
GB Steel Group has the ambition to advance to the top of the Dutch manufacturing industry. We want to strengthen our position in the market (where possible) and conquer new markets. We want to achieve this by being innovative, by developing smart, sustainable and future-proof solutions and by improving our marketing. In addition, we want to cooperate even more intensively within the group with our five divisions. By utilising economies of scale and combining knowledge, we can serve our customers even better with appropriate and sustainable solutions. Together, we have an overview of the entire chain, from concept to realisation. We can relieve the customer of all his worries. And by continuously investing in innovation and digitalisation, , we can also continue to respond to the changing demands of our customers. We challenge ourselves every day with new, complex issues and projects. This requires good cooperation within our group, with reliable partners and the use of smart technologies. The result is customised solutions that our customers can rely on.
Sustainability and innovation
Sustainable construction remains an important theme within GB Steel Group. We want to carry out our customers’ wishes with solutions that have as little impact on the environment and our society as possible. We do this by developing sustainable solutions for the recycling industry, for example, using smart technologies and circular building with steel. Making our own activities more sustainable also plays an important role. We organise our business processes as efficiently as possible and work actively to reduce our own CO2 emissions. We generate sustainable energy by means of solar panels and promote the reuse of buildings, products, materials and raw materials. We thus minimise our own environmental footprint and can continue to successfully build a future-proof living environment.
Organisational and talent development
Our people are our major strength. We therefore see it as our responsibility to create a safe and healthy working environment in which our employees can perform at their best and continue to develop themselves. We offer plenty of opportunities for this and for development. In this way, our organisation can contribute to the talent development of our employees and they, in turn, can contribute to the further growth and development of our organisation. The focus of organisational development is on smarter cooperation, by bringing the right people together and using modern IT tools.
In addition to investing in our own people, the organisation’s growth also requires the recruitment of new talents. It currently remains a major challenge to find and bring in professionals with the right expertise. But if we want to be the best party for our customers, we will also have to recruit the best people and get the best out of them. That is why we are professionalising our recruitment activities and increasing our focus on employer branding and labour market communication. We want to be one of the most attractive and safest employers in our sector. In addition, we want to continuously promote working in engineering and support the strengthening of education to better match the needs of the labour market.
Looking forward to 2021
2020 was an eventful year, in which the corona crisis turned the world upside down. This had far-reaching consequences for our employees, customers and society. More than ever, we relied on the personal responsibility of our employees. Thanks to the resilience and flexibility of our employees, we were able to respond quickly and we dare to look ahead with confidence, despite all uncertainties.
In these uncertain times, looking ahead is not so obvious. The PFAS and nitrogen problems, and the corona crisis in particular, are affecting the construction, machinery and transport sectors. The current crisis will leave its mark and it is not yet certain when we will get back to smoother waters. Nevertheless, we see that the order books for 2021 are already well filled for most divisions. However, there is a decline in the start of new projects. In addition, rising steel prices are making it harder for customers to initiate construction projects. The margins will be under pressure.
But there are also opportunities. In non-residential construction, production facilities for data centres, for example, remain in high demand. The demand for infrastructure is expected to rise if the government will invest in road construction in times of recession. Moreover, there has already been a backlog of maintenance work on bridges and locks. With the acquisition of MF Emmen last year, we can respond to this even better as a group. MF Emmen’s expertise in environmental technology also offers opportunities. The growing world population, increasing prosperity and technological developments are putting ever greater pressure on the earth, the climate and raw materials. That is why we are working together on a circular economy. Recycling is inextricably linked to this. With MF Emmen, we therefore expect to be able to take great steps in this circular transition. In addition, next year we also want to focus on growth in the GWW sector and the changing energy sector.
As an organisation, we want to ensure that we remain progressive in a changing world and are committed to providing innovative and sustainable services to our customers.
In 2021 we will start the new strategy period 2021-2024. We want to ensure that we remain progressive as an organisation in a changing world and are committed to providing innovative and sustainable services to our customers. As the financial figures show, the group is very healthy. That creates a lot of opportunities. That is why we want to invest heavily in automation and machines in 2021. Around EUR 5 million in investments are set aside for this. The investments will be aimed at processing material more efficiently, which will increase productivity. Furthermore, all divisions will benefit from a new IT infrastructure within the group which will be realised in 2021. The system also makes it easier for heavy graphic users to work independently of time and place, which also facilitates cooperation between branches or between the office or home office and the construction site. The current solvency and liquidity is amply sufficient to finance these investments without raising external financing.
Within the group, we do not (yet) have any major problems in terms of staffing. In general, however, we see that it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit new talent. That is why in 2021 we will also focus on labour market communication to promote working in engineering and support the strengthening of education to better match the needs of the labour market. We also continue to focus on talent development and the creation of a safe and inspiring working environment for our employees.
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