We are celebrating ten years of MeeMaken. How? Each month we let one of the 13 MeeMaken companies share their experiences. After all, we do it together. This month, we speak with Managing Director Wim Kattouw of Eager.one about the key term: ‘Pushing boundaries’. “We aren’t just pushing boundaries in terms of how we work, we are expanding our entire field of work!”
New challenges are opportunities to push your boundaries
Is pushing boundaries something that characterizes Eager.one?
‘If you look at Eager.one’s history, you can see that a lot of boundaries have been pushed’, Wim tells us. ‘Eager.one designs and develops lifting and handling systems for the offshore wind sector and the oil and gas industry. We do this for projects around the world. However, that has not always been the case. The company’s roots date back to the early nineteenth century. Back then, we designed lifting and handling systems for rail vehicles and the construction of bridges.’ Starting from 1979, the organization (which emerged from Werkspoor) continued independently under the name Euro-Rigging and mainly operated in the oil and gas industry. ‘From that energy sector, we later moved into the offshore wind industry. And in 2003 we became involved in the very first offshore wind farm developed in the Netherlands. No one had experience in building such wind farms back then. But our experience in designing lifting and handling equipment and working offshore in the oil and gas industry proved very useful. We spotted the opportunities and stepped into these developments from the very beginning. Quite a boundary to push!’
Does MeeMaken also help you push boundaries?
‘Definitely’, Wim says. ‘MeeMaken bought Eager.one in 2012, making it the first company in the MeeMaken portfolio. Fairly soon after, we changed our course. We broadened our scope to include design & construct activities. This meant that we also provided construction and transportation of the systems we designed.’ With this new field of work, a new name was needed, to match the new values. Since 2018, the organization has been called Eager.one. ‘This is what we want to be,’ says Wim. ‘Eager and the first.’
‘All these changes bring new opportunities as well as new challenges,’ Wim continues. ‘Now we are going out to sea ourselves to help build the wind farms. This enables bigger margins, but also bigger risks. But by constantly pushing our boundaries, we continue to develop and grow as a company. And with the support of MeeMaken as a holding company, we are more likely to take such risks.’
“We aren’t just pushing boundaries in terms of how we work, we are expanding our entire field of work!”
How do you handle developments in the market?
‘Developments in the sector are ongoing’, says Wim. ‘Our lifting structures, grippers and all other systems have to continue evolving with the times, because the products are getting bigger and heavier. And this is moving fast. In 2015, the largest foundation piles for offshore wind turbines had a diameter of 7.8 meters. That figure has already increased to 10 meters. Also, the weight of components has more than doubled in the last decade. Our operations have to keep pace with these changes, which means we are constantly pushing our boundaries.
Now that we are developing the systems ourselves, we are also increasingly dealing with materials. And these are becoming more and more scarce. This is another situation that we need to adapt to. For instance, by purchasing materials in advance. New challenges that arise from pushing our boundaries.’
Are you also pushing boundaries with other MeeMaken companies?
‘Now that we are part of MeeMaken, we can also push our boundaries together with our sister companies’, says Wim. ‘A few companies within MeeMaken are in the same sector as us. For example, we work a lot with KenzFigee and LiftWerx; they are also active in lifting systems. Collaborations are thus a logical step.
For instance, it was LiftWerx that came up with the innovative idea of placing the lifting system on top of the wind turbine. We designed it and KenzFigee developed it. In the demand-driven market, it’s great to have close connections like this. Together, you will quickly reach a solution: new challenges are opportunities to push boundaries!’
In addition to collaborating by finding synergy in our activities, Eager.one also benefits from other MeeMaken collaborations. ‘It’s easy to help each other by exchanging staff. For example, sometimes Selmers engineers work for us, and vice versa. We can also benefit from each other’s knowledge and networks. Collaboration makes us all stronger. And sometimes you have to make some sacrifices. But as long as we can benefit from it together, there is no issue.’
Do you plan to push boundaries in the future?
‘Definitely’, Wim says. ‘We haven’t just been pushing boundaries in terms of how we work, we have also been expanding our entire field of work. And we will continue to do so. When this will happen and what direction we will take is hard to say. The demand for more and larger wind turbines continues to grow. So we will be developing as well.’ Wim also recognizes that more boundaries will have to be pushed soon. ‘There are not enough materials for the whole sector to build everything planned. Working with several countries, we are exploring the possibility of obtaining materials through deep sea mining. But this also raises other questions. About the impact on nature and sustainability, for example.’ Eager.one and MeeMaken are looking at different developments in the market. ‘Working sustainably is a big priority for us – and for all of MeeMaken. We are therefore very interested in developments in relation to reusing old materials. But we are also keeping a close eye on other forms of energy generation. Flow power plants, for example. An interesting area to keep an eye on. But for now, we are focusing on offshore wind. Considering everything that could yet be achieved, there are still lots of boundaries waiting to be pushed.’