Depoortere

Everything set for the future

After a career spanning 40 years with flax machine manufacturer Depoortere, three-quarters of that time spent at the helm, Rik Depoortere and his brother-in-law Peter Rosseel decided it was time for a change: “When we hand the business over to our successors at the end of 2025, we know that everything – both people and systems – will be set for the future.”

Strong growth

Depoortere is the global market leader in designing and manufacturing equipment used to harvest and process flax and similar fibres. Its main customers are flax processing companies and agricultural businesses in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The company’s strong growth over the past 10 years had not gone unnoticed, resulting in several nominations for the Trends Gazelle Award, a prestigious accolade for top-performing Belgian companies. Rik Depoortere, who represents the third generation of the family business, puts his finger on the secret of that success: “We’re constantly on the lookout for new machine concepts and prototypes.”

Carrying on the family tradition

For 30 years, Rik and his brother-in-law Peter Rosseel formed the perfect team, running Depoortere in tandem. Rik was the technical mastermind, while Peter looked after commercial, administrative and HR matters. Everything was going well but then in 2017 they had to face the fact that there was no fourth generation waiting in the wings to follow in their footsteps. “When we came across Legia Capital, we realised they were the perfect external partner with the long-term vision to carry our family business, dating all the way back to 1925, into the next phase,” explains Peter. “We felt that Bernard really shared our passion for manufacturing equipment. We could tell that he was just itching to visit the factory.”

Organisation builders

A successor for Peter was found in 2019, enabling him to retire in late 2021. Rik will stay on board until the end of 2025, when Depoortere is due to celebrate its centenary. “Legia’s main task was to make sure that all the knowledge in our heads was put down on paper,” Peter recalls. “You might say that Rik and I had a board meeting every day, but it was never anything formal. We were just perfectly in tune with each other. The people at Legia are real organisation builders, providing support for management, recruitment, training, software, processes – you name it. Everything is now much more professional and we’ve gone from 50 employees to 80. If we had to do it all over again tomorrow, we wouldn’t hesitate to bring in Legia.”

The people at Legia are real organisation builders, providing support for management, recruitment, training, software, processes – you name it. Everything is now much more professional.

Peter Rosseel, former General Manager at Depoortere

Activity:

Design and manufacture of flax harvesting and processing machinery.
www.depoortere.be

Type:
Succession

Investment date:
November 2018