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The KOKS Group in Alkmaar sees the second generation at the helm. 8 years ago, Rick Koks took over as director/owner from his father, who started as a trading company in 1989. Now - in 2019 – the company has approximately 300 employees spread across offices in Alkmaar, Barneveld in The Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Saudi Arabia and USA; at the same time, it has fully developed into its machine construction role for the industrial sector.
But actually, in a specific segment. The visibly-inspired Rick Koks tells us more: “Our customers are mainly international industrial cleaning companies. The really big organisations, which means those active in the oil industry and the mine construction countries. They use our machines. What is the best way to describe these machines? Well, they are actually very large vacuum cleaners on wheels that are able to suck up hazardous liquids, for example.”
Rick says the company has enjoyed international success because the KOKS Group has deliberately chosen to take the lead in terms of safety aspects. “We exceed international laws and regulations. And that appeals. From Saudi Arabia, where we have just opened a branch office, to South Africa.
As a result, we have unwittingly developed in our industry, and we are now setting a new standard. We also focus on working efficiently. Because that is what our customers want. They need smart equipment; they want to achieve more with less effort, every day.
According to Rick, the development of a large industrial vacuum cleaner was not a one-way street. “We literally carry out our development work with our customers. This is based on the maintenance contracts. We see exactly what happens to these machines every year. It helps us develop our product further; because what is the most important thing our customers are looking for? That's correct, they want less wear and tear. They want maximum productivity and minimal (preferably no) wear and tear. We are now analysing the production processes. We want to immerse ourselves in understanding the Big Data generated from these production processes. We see ourselves as part of the customer's team. We do not see ourselves as a supplier, but as a productivity partner.”
Innovation is the key success factor for the company from Alkmaar. “We have organised ourselves into a flat structure. Hardly any management layers. No bureaucracy. This is also a conscious choice. In doing so, we can give our employees more responsibility, which means they can find solutions to the technical challenges they encounter in the development and production of the machines. Our starting point is the lean manufacturing method.”
At the same time, Rick is also aware that the continuous recruitment of good staff is also an issue. “Fortunately, we have little staff turnover – we are always celebrating work anniversaries here! – but we are very strict; we base our staff selections on whether the applicant fits our work culture. We also like to work with interns, which means we have good contact with local schools.
Of course, we see that good staff are scarce in the market. But that is also our responsibility. We recruit from the source. From the schools. Moreover, we see that potential applicants want to work with big names. This means, we have to demonstrate that we are a big name every time.”
When Rick is asked where he sees KOKS Group in 10 years, the answer is clear. “We will have increased our production capacity in a new building. This year, we will take our first steps in the United States, which means our exports will increase. I think we will be widely known around the world in 10 years. In any case: all signs point in that direction.”
Number of construction hours per year: 185,000
Annual turnover: €50 million
Number of employees: approximately 300
Number of construction hours per machine: 1200-1500 hours
Production in Alkmaar, The Netherlands: approximately 100 machines per year
Production in Barneveld, The Netherlands: about 400 smaller machines per year
1. Saudi Arabia
3. Czech Republic
4. South Africa