Heerenveen, February 2022 – “We just experienced a cold period of severe frost resulting in the last Elfstedentocht for the time being, a long-distance ice skating event on natural ice along the eleven cities of the province of Friesland, and I was about to start my own company: APH Group”, remembers Wytse Oosterbaan, CEO and founder of APH Group, the ice-cold winter of 1997 and the start of his company. On the 1st of February 2022, it is exactly 25 years ago that APH Group was founded in the city of Leeuwarden.
The right solutions for local circumstances
APH Group arose from a partnership, with among others, HZPC from Joure, an international market leader in terms of potato breeding and seed potato trading, where Oosterbaan was responsible for Eastern Europe as project manager. As a result, Oosterbaan, who grew up on an arable farm, was supervising a number of agronomic projects in Russia and some other countries in the years before the establishment of APH Group. “At that time, it was a common thing to sell complete projects to arable farmers and agro holdings including seed potatoes and machinery”, starts Oosterbaan about the early years.
“However, soon I realized that the machines that were delivered did not always have the right specifications for the local circumstances. I was convinced that I could offer better alternatives in the form of complete packages, with an emphasis on tailor-made advice and service. In other words, customization based on local circumstances”, says Oosterbaan. It is the start of a business adventure that takes Oosterbaan along enormous fields, small arable farms and large agro holdings in Central- and Eastern Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.
Active worldwide after the fall of the Iron Curtain
At the beginning of the 90s, Oosterbaan was one of the first Dutch entrepreneurs to embark on a voyage of exploration in the former Soviet Union after the fall of the Iron Curtain. “There were opportunities for exporting agricultural machinery to Eastern Europe, whereas HZPC saw similar opportunities for exporting seed potatoes. So I started coordinating sales, marketing and aftersales for several manufacturers”, says Oosterbaan. Nowadays, APH Group still works with a number of these manufacturers who joined from the very beginning.
Oosterbaan, who speaks Russian fluently, has visited most of the countries where APH Group ever sold machinery: “How many countries have I visited? Phew. I’ll have to figure out that one. I have visited many desolate areas, tropical and less tropical places. In my opinion, personal contact with your customers is very important. Once you are on-site, you can really determine the right solution for the local circumstances”, says Oosterbaan, who adds with a laugh: “Actually, I could write a book about all those adventures. Who knows, maybe I have some spare time someday”.
Throughout the years the company has grown into an internationally renowned partner in the field of equipment and installations for the cultivation and handling of potatoes and vegetables. Since its inception in 1997, the turnover of the company has grown to 65 million euros, while it employs 200 employees worldwide, spread across 18 locations in 10 countries. In 2013, the corporate headquarters of APH Group moved from Joure to Heerenveen, where its offices and showroom can be found on a prominent location next to highway A32.
Nowadays, APH Group is active in more than 50 countries worldwide and has an extensive product portfolio consisting of renowned brands such as Baselier, Dewulf, Miedema, Omnivent, Manter and T-L. Thanks to these well-known brands and their products, APH Group has been able to become a market leader in several countries and market segments. As a result, the company has grown considerably in recent years and has the ambition to continue this towards the future. To be able to further shape these ambitions and implement the growth strategy, APH Group has found an investor in 365 Capital to facilitate these plans. As a first step, APH Group recently acquired Agri 2.0 including its activities in Russia and Ukraine.
Plans for the 25 year anniversary
“The 25th anniversary is a memorable moment that deserves the necessary attention”, Oosterbaan continues. “Over the past 25 years, I have visited numerous countries, developed a large network, opened several subsidiaries and have been fortunate to establish and maintain long-term business relationships. Therefore, I would like to celebrate it with our customers, suppliers, business relations and last but not least our employees. Without them I would have never come this far”, says Oosterbaan proudly.
“It is unfortunate, but also understandable that Agritechnica cannot take place in Hanover this year. Otherwise, that would have been a great opportunity to pay attention to our anniversary”, continues Oosterbaan. As a result, several ideas have been worked out to celebrate the anniversary, but these are all subject to the development of the coronavirus and the possibilities for intercontinental travelling. “We have a few plans on paper, but we will have to see what is possible as we really would like to celebrate with guests from abroad. Next to that, we are also working on a larger project to highlight our anniversary but that will become more clear towards the end of the year”, provides Oosterbaan some insights into the plans of APH Group.
Looking to the future
When it comes to the future it becomes clear that APH Group also has the necessary plans and ideas to develop its business step by step. “We are confident about the future and continue the path we have embarked on, as we have identified several opportunities for further growth. We want to strengthen and expand our leading position in our current regions, and where possible continue to grow through acquisitions and expansions of our product portfolio. However, that is all in mind with putting our customers in the first place”, says Oosterbaan resolutely. “We want to offer them added value by taking care of their challenges and providing efficient solutions, with special attention to service and the relationship with the customers. They are our ambassadors and have contributed to the success of APH Group, for which I am very grateful”, Oosterbaan concludes proudly.
Wytse Oosterbaan is proud about the 25 year anniversary of APH Group.
You can download the full English press release here.
You can download the full Russian press release here.
You can download the full Dutch press release here.
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