Talking to Eugène de Roodt, director Croonwolter&dros

On February 1, it was announced that the panel building division of Croonwolter&dros BV had become part of eReM Elektrotechnici BV and thus of the P&V Panels Group. We talked to Eugène de Roodt, director of Croonwolter&dros, about the takeover, how it came about, how the process went and what his biggest challenges were.

Panel building division for sale

In 2019, Croonwolter&dros sold its Marine & Offshore division, panel building used to be a part of this division. Fueled by only internal orders, it was run or stand still and continuity could no longer be guaranteed. It was decided to start a separate outsourcing process for the panel building division. Eugène de Roodt says about this: “We have drawn up a memorandum of sale and put it on the market with a selected number of panel builders, in the hope that they would be interested, P&V Panels was one of those interested.”

It was no secret that P&V Panels had the ambition to gain a foothold in the Netherlands. CEO Joris Vrancken has always been honest about it. Joris said earlier: “In Belgium, P&V controls more than half of the market. The Dutch market is more fragmented. There is no one here who masters more than 10%. In addition, in our business you simply have to be close to your customers in order to serve them optimally. This is not only in the construction of panels, but in the total picture: design, construction, maintenance and upgrade. There are few Dutch peers who can offer this total package. I see huge opportunities there.”

Left: Eugène de Roodt, director Croonwolter&dros. Right: Joris Vrancken, CEO P&V Panels Group

P&V Panels and eReM

Several parties appeared to be interested in the panel building division, but the choice fell on P&V Panels, for several reasons, De Roodt explains: “We chose P&V because they focus 100% on panel building and because P&V already had a blanket order contract with Croonwolter&dros, we knew the company all right. But also because Joris already indicated at the time that he was working on further expansion in the Netherlands and that that expansion would be close to our panel building location. That was nice, because there would be no struggle in terms of travel time for the employees.” The other company in the area was eReM Elektrotechnici BV. In November of 2021, eReM announced the merger with P&V Panels.

The team

A change like this has a major impact on the employees of the panel building division. After all, they are told that they will be working for a different boss, at a different location and with 70 new colleagues. “We thought it was important that the culture is the same, because people have to feel at home. But also that it is a financially stable club, so that continuity can be guaranteed. The physical distance was of course important, but also that our people remained in the same pension fund, which saves a lot of hassle. In fact, all those conditions were gradually met by P&V,” says De Roodt.

The takeover did not really come as a surprise to the team, perhaps we can even speak of a relief, De Roodt continues: “What struck us was the relief, the team also realized that the panel building division had difficulty with continuity in terms of workload. We still check back and forth on how our people are doing and we get very positive responses. People are happy with the way they were welcomed, that’s a compliment to eReM, the warm welcome.”

Bright future

Now that the employees start to feel at home at their new workplace, eReM has a bright future ahead of it. “I know Joris’ strategy, to focus 100% on panel building. An enormous number of panels have to be built throughout the energy transition, and those panels must be increasingly intelligent. So the outlook for the panel building market over the next 10 years is very good. And I think that our team can benefit more from this at eReM than if we had kept our panel building division, because they would then only be fed from internal orders,” says De Roodt. As mentioned earlier, this takeover guarantees continuity. Croonwolter&dros and eReM Elektrotechnici will continue to work closely together on projects of which panel building is a part. “From Croonwolter&dros we can draw on the knowledge and skills of our old colleagues, fortunately they remain in contact with us because they are now part of eReM,” says De Roodt.

Finally, De Roodt would like to emphasize how smoothly the process of the takeover went: “I would like to thank Joris and the people of eReM for the very pleasant way in which the takeover took place, especially during a difficult period of COVID-19. The takeover took a little longer than we had all hoped in advance, but mutual trust has only grown further as a result. And I wish eReM and our old colleagues a lot of success and continuity and, above all, a lot of fun working together. May we both be very successful in the coming years.” And we, the people at eReM, can only agree with that.

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