The SMG Group in Hasselt provides total solutions in the graphic industry and the cross-media landscape. From the fields of creation & design, print & printing, fulfilment and warehousing as well as IT Services, clients throughout the Netherlands are provided with solutions in high-quality graphics and communications. The SMG Group regularly uses the legal services of De Haan Lawyers & Solicitors, especially the expertise of Lodewijk de Vries.
In a relatively short time, the SMG Group and the De Haan branch in Zwolle established an intensive and mutual business relationship. DGA Willem van Rijswijk and managing director Arend Hartlief are happy to explain the triangle of De Haan - SMG - De Vries further. Van Rijswijk: ‘‘Of course we knew De Haan as a quickly growing player within advocacy for a while, but my initial contact with De Haan took place in 2011. Thanks to an acquisition I came into contact with Jan van Burg from the Assen office. He played a constructive role in the acquisition process. Jan is, just like Lodewijk de Vries, specialised in insolvency law.’’
The initiative for active collaboration came from the side of advocacy. ‘‘I regularly spoke to Winfryd de Haan due to his chairmanship at the FC Groningen’s Hattrick’s Club’’, says Hartlief. ‘‘We, as the SMG Group, are also a member of this business group. We suddenly received a call about whether they could introduce themselves to us and whether the office could mean something to us. Such a direct call gives you a sense of positivity,’’ affirms van Rijswijk. ‘‘I can appreciate such a direct approach. Within a week Winfryd, Lodewijk and Jan joined us for a meeting.’’
When the SMG Group tried to take the upper hand again, we got in touch with Lodewijk. ‘‘We looked for a specialist who takes charge, is smart and perseveres. Lodewijk ticked these boxes on multiple fronts.’’ According to van Rijswijk, it’s not only about delivering knowledge and getting through the day. ‘‘There must be a click with each other. I notice that I appreciate people that can connect to my vision. In order to do that, you have to be interested and contribute. Lodewijk shows himself to be the entrepreneur with management qualities; he operates as an extension of us.’’
"Recently, in the middle of an acquisition process, I had to travel to Asia for business. The job was in good hands with Arend and Lodewijk. Once back, Lodewijk had already planned an evaluation of the process himself. I was briefed immediately and extensively on all substantive matters. That's what I want aftersales to look like. Committed, honest and reasonable based on my entrepreneurial interests. Due to his specialisation and appearance, Lodewijk is a client magnet. The joy he has doing his job is obvious."
"De Haan is definitely eager to play."
Hartlief describes the characteristics of De Haan Lawyers & Solicitors from a commercial perspective. "The entire office works from our perspective as clients. The employees are driven, have an open mind and are easily accessible. Van Rijswijk: "Very easily accessible even. I always have direct contact with Lodewijk. With other large firms, you can indicate your case and you will be phoned back. Thankfully this is not the case at De Haan.’’
The cost of the service is a relative term to the gentlemen. "Price is, of course, often the start. You talk about hourly rates and maximums. That's no problem for De Haan. The success determines the value. If an acquisition is successfully completed, the invoice feels very differently!"
The SMG Group and De Haan Lawyers & Solicitors have some striking similarities. Where De Haan has focussed on rapid growth SMG has also set itself a tough growth target for the years ahead. Hartlief: "We aim to double our sales within two years. A part of this is realised by recent acquisitions, but also in terms of acquisitions, we pull up our socks. We show that we are ‘eager to play’, just like De Haan. We also see our commercial department as the beating heart of the business and are not afraid to commit to cold calling."
Whether SMG is doing well is clear to Van Rijswijk. "We make a healthy return. That’s unusual for this industry! We distinguish ourselves through our flat organisational and financial structure and work with enthusiastic and creative people. Not many colleagues can say or copy that quickly. We are and remain a strong player in our market. And De Haan has certainly contributed to that recently."
Lodewijk de Vries
"When it comes to the relationship with the client, keeping yourself involved is important," is Lodewijk de Vries’s credo. "I want to know people and understand them well. That is a condition for me to be able to build long-term relationships.” De Vries specialises in restructurings and acquisitions.
In that area there are mainly opportunities in construction, as well as in the graphic design industry. "We can call ourselves takeover specialists on these fronts. That is not only because of our complete expertise, but also our market knowledge and network. You also need to know where it is interesting to knock on the door. The SMG Group is a good example in that respect."