These days demand for second-hand machines from the food processing and packaging sectors is on the rise. According to Sean Schulp of STC Food Solutions, it is, however, not only due to financial reasons. "Since we can almost always deliver them right away, more and more large companies are also opting for used machines. That's important in these times with very long delivery times." This Dutch company specializes in trading pre-owned machines for the fish, meat, and fruit and vegetable sectors.
The experienced Piet Pannekeet recently joined the RTC team. Two years ago, he handed over the reins of his company, JASA Packaging Solutions, to the next generation. Piet, however, didn't sit back quietly but decided to help Sean continue to build STC. That lets Sean get back to doing what he loves every day: going out to trade used machinery. "I founded this company about six years ago. I started very small, with one machine, but grew quickly."
"We did a lot of business with JASA, so I got to know Piet. We had a good relationship, which only intensified once he retired. Piet's joining opened many doors. We're increasingly gaining a foothold in the vegetable processing industry. As a result, our stock has built up quickly, and now at least half our customers are active in the fruit and vegetable sector," explains Sean.
A win-win situation
The pair noticed an ever-growing demand for second-hand machines. "However, as I said, it's not solely a financial consideration anymore. I used to have a lot of contact with smaller start-up companies that wanted cheaper machines. That's still common, but given new machines' longer delivery times, we're getting more and more requests from larger customers. It sometimes takes a long time for a new machine to be delivered," Sean continues.
"We, however, have everything in stock and can, therefore, deliver the machine quickly. We then take back the redundant machines. Businesses get rid of unused machines while we replenish our stock. It's a win-win situation." Piet adds: "That ranges from older to new machines that are no longer needed due to, say, a canceled project. STC thus has a wide assortment of specific machines."
Great potential in North Africa
STC Food Solutions is primarily active in Europe but occasionally deals with companies in Australia and South America. "We do most of our work in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany, but in that wake also pick up business in Poland, England, Scandinavia, or elsewhere," Sean continues. These days, the company is increasingly active in North Africa too. Piet: "There are plenty of machines that don't sell as well in Europe. We ship those to North Africa and offer them there, where there’s great potential for pre-owned machines."
"There are lots of small businesses that don't know where to look, but, for many dealers, it's uncharted territory. Just try finding someone who speaks the language to employ. Still, we've found someone to represent us in North Africa. That forms a good basis for meeting entrepreneurs' needs there. We also regularly have clients who prefer we don't resell their redundant machines in Europe,” Piet explains. “Then, of course, the North African market’s ideal. That's how we want to eventually build our reputation, as we've already done in Europe.”
STC wants to follow this path to keep growing gradually and exponentially. "We've laid a foundation, which we now have to build on, primarily through building relationships. That means sometimes you must trade somewhat lower quality items to reach customers. Many companies want to regain some space but think it's a waste to simply discard a machine. That's where the true potential lies for us. We hardly ever turn clients away, and, so, want people to automatically remember STC Food Solutions when buying or selling machines," says Piet.
Yet, Sean still has plenty to learn. When asked about the challenges, he admits that delegating and mentoring is vital to realizing this potential. "How do I manage my time effectively, for example? I started out on my own and like driving the forklift or tinkering with machines. But, I have to increasingly delegate these kinds of tasks. We've hired staff and now have to learn how to keep growing the organization."
"We want to maintain steady, consistent growth. Fortunately, Piet knows a thing or two about establishing a business," Sean says, laughing. Piet, in turn, is loving building something. "It's wonderful to help Sean and get my hands dirty. There's tremendous potential, but building a house starts with the foundation, not the roof. STC can still expand quite a bit, and I'm confident we'll make it happen," Piet concludes. (JF)
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