This year we celebrate ten years of MeeMaken. How? By putting one of the 12 companies in the spotlight each month. This month we speak to Managing Director Rob Schouten and Project Lead for Sales Marlou Liem-Claus from Selmers about the buzz word: Dare. ‘We took a critical look at fifty years of history and opted for a different approach going forward.’
After fifty years, we changed course
Selmers is an established name. Do you dare to change?
‘Precisely because we are a major player, we have to dare to change’, says Rob. ‘We build machines and factories for surface treatment, validation and smart handling of pipes, tubes and profiles. We do this from start to finish; we engineer it, produce it, build it on site and put it into operation.
There are only a few companies in the pipe, tube & profile industry that offer all these elements from a single source. So, developments in the market have to come from within ourselves. And that takes quite a bit of daring. Fortunately, we work with a good group of people with a passion for technology and a real ‘can-do attitude’. They dare to change. And that’s a good thing because political changes and the energy transition require us to have a flexible attitude. Pipelines are used less and less for traditional compositions of oil and gas. They will soon be transporting other energy resources, such as hydrogen and biogas.’
Marlou adds: ‘We have to prepare for what lies ahead. That has also been our focus in recent years: preparing Selmers for the future. And we did that by considerable investments in digitization and changing our entire organizational structure.’
Why was a daring new approach needed?
‘We critically examined and reviewed fifty years of history’, says Rob. ‘We decided it was time for a different approach. The culture and history would of course be retained. But we did change course. It took a lot of daring. We have gone from a hierarchical model to a cooperative model. Both internally, with our customers, and with our suppliers. We no longer say “Deliver this on this date”, but start a conversation and look for the best options.’ Marlou: ‘In addition, we actively look for clients and suppliers who also dare to work in this collaborative way. This means we can put our heads together to work out where we might be able to save costs by eliminating steps in the process. And that can be pretty exciting.’ Rob agrees and adds: ‘We work in a niche market, which means doing something new equals taking risks. And we dare to do so. We inspire each other in the workplace to have confidence in our technology, passion and collaborations – both internally and externally.’
“We took a critical look at fifty years of history and opted for a different approach going forward.”
How does MeeMaken help with collaborations and your more daring approach?
Marlou: ‘Since we became part of MeeMaken in 2012, we have dared to look much further ahead. Having access to collaborations with the teams of sister companies is of tremendous help.’ Rob: ‘For example, we often exchange ideas with our sister companies at management level and we use the eLearning and ICT knowledge of the learning companies. We also help each other in the workplace. For example, when the Russian gas market was turned upside down in the first quarter of 2022. Several projects came to a standstill at this time, along with the work of about twenty engineers. Fortunately, I knew that the engineers at Eager.one were very busy. And with a few phone calls we were able to help each other out. When you have back-up like this, you can be much more daring.’
Marlou: ‘In addition, MeeMaken also helps by inspiring us to keep developing. Certainly, in terms of technical developments and sustainability. And these are very important pillars for us and our customers.’
What new activities did you dare to undertake?
‘The past few years revolved around the digitization of our machinery’, says Rob. ‘Developments within IT are already in an advanced state, but within the industry it is lagging behind. Therefore, we started working on alignment. We made a digital copy of all our machines and products. This allows us to draw a digital mechanical model of an entire factory. Instead of simulating situations, we can recreate real scenarios. This way you will face fewer surprises. We can also remotely support our customers with our software, for example when they request this for trouble shooting in case of downtime, cooperate with them and share ideas. In addition, with this digital approach it’s easier for us to validate process concepts and software adjustments. Something that would cost a lot of time and money to do in practice. It took courage to develop this new way of working, because the idea came from ourselves. Now we’re offering customers something they didn’t really know they needed.’ Marlou: ‘As a result, we notice that they have more confidence in us and they dare to approach us with even more complex questions. And that makes us extra proud.’
Are you all set for the future?
‘Certainly’, says Rob. ‘MeeMaken has helped us to further advance our vision. Our new organizational structure, focused on collaboration, fits well with this. And by digitizing our work, we prepare for the future. Our customers can use the data for the necessary analyses and also, for example, in co-creation processes. This way we can get answers to tomorrow’s questions. We do not yet know exactly what tomorrow’s questions are. But we do know for sure that we have all the pieces in place to provide the right answers.’