New opportunities after restructuring
In 2008, I resigned from my managing director position at SVT Branding & Design and traveled through Africa to find inspiration for something new. At that point, I would like to start my own business again, a business in which I can pass on my knowledge and experience. However, upon my arrival back in the Netherlands, everything worked out differently of course, and I became involved with another struggling company. What attracted me was the technology and the innovative power. Before I know it, I find myself talking to lawyers and an extremely disobliging bank.

Business Case Egripment

A couple of days after I came back from the Gambia in November of 2008, I met Cons Tresfon for the first time, owner/director of Egripment Support Systems. I had just researched the possibilities to start a new meaningful business in Africa, inspired by the resilient entrepreneurs I had met over there, and I was chewing on a business plan for my new organization (Tesito, which I founded in 2009). Cons told me how his company got into trouble: after some crucial investments towards the development of new cranes, absolutely vital to stay ahead of the competition in the film industry, the bank decided to cancel a part of his loan. "I can probably manage for another week or so, but then I will go under," Cons said to me. He asked if I could help him to turn the tide.

I needed to think about it, this wasn't exactly what I had in mind for the next couple of months. Two days later, Cons called me to ask if I would accompany him to his lawyer, he was going to lay-off the better part of his personnel. I couldn't leave him hanging any longer, so the next day at his lawyer's office I slogged through a pile of paperwork, trying to familiarize myself with the company and its predicament. A strong sense of urgency struck me, this intervention would not suffice and we needed to cut deeper if we wanted to save Egripment. But I somehow couldn't find proof to corroborate my feeling, yet.

Back at the Egripment office, I suggested to cut the production by half, decrease the R&D division, and give in to the bank's request to lower the stockpile significantly. Furthermore, we decreased the overseas activities and drew up a new plan for the future. My business partner Taco Hendriksz helped us to make a new financial planning that would steadily take us through the expected unexpected.

A rather unexpected surprise was the completely unreliable bank that did whatever it fancied. We can't seem to come to a mutual understanding and we lost valuable time. Later on in the process, a new account manager was appointed and she rendered great work towards salvaging this unique company –unique for the Netherlands and unique for the film industry. The market remains weak but nevertheless we manage to create a stable operation in only a couple of months' time. After the restructuring, the company slowly gets back on track. Having found a solid market position, Egripment became profitable again after eighteen months, and today it is in the top three of the international film industry suppliers. Even better, Egripment is the market leader with regard to the development of virtual studios.