"We don't want to miss out on deals outside of our network"
When his business partner left the company they jointly owned in 2017, Rob Geurtz took over his shares. After realising he needed outside capital to grow the company further, he went looking for an investor. It wasn’t just about the money, Geurtz explains: ‘I didn’t want to make all the business decisions on my own. I wanted an investor who could also be a sparring partner, someone who could help me strategize for successful market expansion.’
High-end packaging solutions
Geurtz’ company, Aarts Packaging, specialises in complex, high-end packaging solutions for cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food products. In its production facility in the south of the Netherlands, a work force of 70 employees operates a machine park of 40 injection moulding machines and 30 robots. Aarts Packaging also has its own mould engineering department, a paint shop and an assembly & distribution department. Its customer base comprises prominent national and international brands and medium-sized clients.
When Geurtz’ advisor BDO M&A shared the deal on Dealsuite, it immediately piqued the interest of Dealsuite-member Berk Partners, a Dutch private equity firm that participates in small- and medium-sized companies with long-term growth potential. ‘We have been around for 25 years. Over the years, we’ve built a large network of entrepreneurs, investors and advisors’, says Rimco Geels, partner at Berk. ‘A lot of our deals come to us through this network. Yet, platforms like Dealsuite are also valuable to us, as they give us a quick insight into deals that come to market.’
Opportunities for synergy
Berk Partners has an investment focus on companies with a revenue between 5 and 75 million euro, Geels’ colleague Willem Kamps explains. ‘The innovative manufacturing industry is one of the sectors we like to invest in. Aarts takes up a leading position in an attractive growth market and the current management has a good track record. We also believe that Aarts’ strong focus on sustainable production methods and materials will help propel autonomous growth.’ The Amsterdam-based investment firm already has another packaging company in portfolio and previously invested in several other businesses in the packaging-industry value chain. Geels and Kamps are convinced this will create ample opportunities for synergy.
Business is flourishing
December 2019, the deal was closed and Berk Partners acquired shares of Aarts Packaging. Geurtz stayed on as co-owner and managing director. Looking back on the first year with Berk Partners on board as investor, Geurtz is happy he took the leap. ‘Occasionally you hear negative stories about private equity. Some employees were a bit trepidatious about the participation of Berk Partners. But now, all doubts are cleared. People can see that the company is doing well. Management was strengthened with a new finance director, a supervisory board was installed and business is flourishing.’
Geels and Kamps equally believe the future of Aarts Packaging is bright. The pair wants to facilitate growth with investments in new machinery and plan to expand the client base in Germany, France and Italy by doing add-on acquisitions in those countries. Geels: ‘Our working relationship with Rob Geurtz is great. Together, we can grow Aarts Packaging into an import player in the Northwestern European packaging industry.’