New owner takes the helm at paper honeycomb firm Honicel

16 January 2019

Dirk Schut, a partner at Fortaleza Capital, has acquired a majority stake in Honicel, a producer of paper-based honeycomb structures. The Dutchman has effective immediately been appointed CEO of the company. 

The company from the Netherlands supplies its products to mainly European clients in several industries, including aviation, automotive, furniture and public transport. The firm’s ‘paper honeycomb’ is for instance used as filling material for interior doors, or for filling room or office partition walls, serving as a substitute for traditional solid fillings, chipboard stripes or tube board. In buses, trains and cars the product is used as a production material for sunshades, spare tire covers, trunk plates, door trim panels, hat boards and roofing. 

In recent years, Honicel has seen its footprint and turnover grow on the back of the growing update of paper honeycomb. The material is low-cost, lightweight but robust, and is environmental friendly – paper honeycomb most commonly created from 100% recycled material, as is the case in Honicel’s production process. “Paper honeycomb is clearly recognised by more and more customers as a core material in sandwich constructions with unparalleled performance characteristics,” explained new owner Dirk Schut.

New owner takes the helm at paper honeycomb firm Honicel

According to an estimate by Accuray Research, the global honeycomb core material market will grow at a CAGR of 5.3% from 2017 to 2022, by then reaching an estimated market size of $640 million. Main drivers for the industry’s growth include increasing awareness on the solid performance of honeycomb core, rising demand for lightweight materials, and robust growth of the end use industries. Among the largest players in the industry are Argosy, DuPont, Tricel Honeycomb, Hexcel, Hexacomb, Core Composites and Polyumac.

Commenting on his ambitions for the company, Schut said, “Honicel occupies a unique niche position in the paper-based industry with an outstanding reputation and a track record of continuous innovation. We will continue to focus on our long-term customer relationships and explore further avenues for innovative growth.”

The company currently has an annual turnover of between €10 million and €15 million, generated by a team of forty professionals. In the coming 3 to 5 years, the turnover should grow by 30% to 40%, while profitability (EBITDA) should increase from today's 4% to 10%, says Schut.

One target eyed by the executive will be extending the firm’s international presence. Currently, the company has (sales) offices in the Netherlands, China, India, Indonesia and Russia.

Schut brings a wealth of experience in the paper & pulp industry to his new role. Previously, he was CEO and co-owner of SolidPack, which was acquired by VPK Packaging Group in 2017. Prior to that, he held several senior management positions at sector counterparts Meerssen & Palm, Schut Papier and De Naeyer Papier. 

In a deal advised on by Dutch corporate finance firm Fortaleza Capital, Schut has purchased an undefined majority stake in Honicel. The current management team will remain in place and continue to lead daily business operations.

Rik de Weerd joins Product League as Chief Digital Transformation

19 April 2019

Product League, a digital transformation agency dedicated to the OutSystems platform, has brought Rik de Weerd on board as Chief Digital Transformation.

Based in the Netherlands, Product League is a rapidly growing digital product specialist. The firm helps clients – including the likes of beer brewer Heineken and grocery players Albert Heijn and Coop – build systems, applications and products by combining a rapid application development approach with an agile way of working. To this end, Product League is dedicated to the low-code platform of OutSystems. 

Against a backdrop of a growing need to transform core legacy systems, as organisations embrace emerging technologies to bolster competitiveness and (digitally) navigate change, low-code is seeing a booming uptake by organisations of all sizes. According to one estimate, by a US analyst firm, the market for low code development is set to double in size from its current value of $1.6 billion roughly every two years during the period until 2025. Alongside peers such as Appian and Mendix, OutSystems is at the forefront of the low-code industry.

According to Rik de Weerd, Product League is uniquely positioned to tap into the growing market for OutSystems services, leveraging its specialist and multidisciplinary approach to help clients “deliver winning products”. He elaborated, “there are many good players in the OutSystems market which deliver excellent technical work. Product League goes beyond this, and additionally brings a focus on the strategic level. The firm is not only a strategic partner with the right toolset, but also brings the determination to take clients wherever they need to go.”

Rik de Weerd joins Product League as Chief Digital Transformation

The Dutchman brings a wealth of experience to Product League, as well as a reputation as one of the Benelux’s OutSystems thought leaders in the low-code industry. Before joining the digital consultancy, he worked for OutSystems from their Benelux office as Lead Solution Architect for Northern Europe. During his tenure, he has led a large number of digital transformation projects and has been responsible for resolving complex business and IT issues. Earlier in his career he held several IT consulting and project management roles. 

Asked about his move from OutSystems to Product League, De Weerd commented: “After five years of evangelising low-code, drawing up countless solutions across Northern Europe and battling 'old habits and short-term thinking’, now it’s time to put my money where my mouth is. I had the privilege to be presented with several new business cases every week in different branches and help blueprint the road to value in all of them. Now I’m eager to take that to the next level and drive the programmes that actually transform corporations into the digital age.”

“Low-code has crossed the chasm, the technology is now here to stay. Searching for new, more effective ways of catalysing their digital transformation, leading companies are realising this. Driving digital transformation as a core competency of Product League is now my mission and I believe it will be an excellent fit.” 

He further pointed at Product League’s ability to provide an end-to-end service, “With a team of product owners, business analysts, UX/UI designers and OutSystems developers, Product League can offer clients the full digital experience. But technology can only take you so far – without the right people, the right mindset and the power to execute, IT stays hypothetical. I believe I’ve found all three in Product League.”