FIRST HUNDRED DAYS INTERVIEW WITH ALAIN AND MARTIJN

It has been 3 months now since Standard Investment took over ACE.
What are your first impressions?

Alain: “Well, the business is more complex than we first thought. The superior quality levels required in our markets here require a profound knowledge of chemistry, materials and processes coupled with high professional standards from our employees. What we have seen is exceptional levels of professionalism and quality delivered in everything people here do. It is obvious that this is appreciated by all our customers.”

Martijn: “We were very happy to discover a lot of strong people in the company. During our first months we have spent time with operators on the production lines and every single one of them made a good impression on us. The management group is robust and complementary – so all in all, a great team.”

What challenges do you see ahead?

Alain: “We want to maintain our leadership position in our core markets. Whilst holding a n° 1 position, our customers expect a gradual transformation of the company along Industry 3.0 standards. Standard Investment will actively support that transformation.”

Martijn: “The carve-out of ACE from RKW brings its own day-to-day challenges, not least of which is implementing our own ERP system. Then the transfer of the roofing membrane business to ACE will require focus and dedication from both operations and sales. In the longer term, we really want to implement a more entrepreneurial culture in the company which will bring its own benefits.”

How does this acquisition compare to others in your portfolio?

Alain: “You know, actually ACE fits in well with other portfolio companies. It might be a very different business from others in the portfolio, however, as a carve-out of a production entity that was non-core for their former parent – it suits our core strengths in building successful standalone entities.”

Martijn: “I agree with Alain. ACE is a typical Standard Investment portfolio company. At Standard Investment we focus on companies with €20-200M revenue that require a hands-on approach. As a carve-out and with a new business that needs to be successfully integrated, ACE is fitting very well with these criteria.”

ACE is a market leader in the field of plastic based fabrics for the manufacture of surgical drapes and gowns. This is a new departure for SI. What are you learning about this market?

Alain: “There is so much to learn in this market. The most important and immediate lessons that I learned are that a surgical drape or gown is more complex than first meets the eye, and that there can be no compromise on quality.”

Martijn: “During due diligence we understandably investigated the surgical drapes market thoroughly. Nonetheless, nothing beats hands-on learning. During the first months at ACE we learned a lot more about important trends. One thing that impressed me is that the sales process in this market requires technical experience and product knowledge, much more than in some other markets we are involved in. And the norms and certifications are quite different from other businesses.”

Innovation and Entrepreneurship are stalwarts of your strategy and credo. How do you plan to drive these at ACE?

Alain: “By acting as a sounding board, by letting people learn from their mistakes and by avoiding stepping in too directly ourselves. This is how we have operated in other companies, and it has proved a very successful strategy. We are looking forward to living the results in this culture step change.”

Martijn: “Investments in innovation are necessary to keep our position as market leader. In the coming years we mainly want to focus on innovations that can bring value to our customers and innovations that will create more sustainable end products.

I can certainly echo Alain’s comments here. We plan to bring in more entrepreneurship by giving greater ownership to ACE’s employees, and by bringing in talented people with an entrepreneurial mindset.”

What plans do you have for the company in the near term?

Alain: “First up, we will be making targeted strategic investments alongside fostering cultural change. This lays solid ground for the future of the company.”

Martijn: “In the near term we will be focusing on the successful carve-out of the company. So not only the new ERP system and implementation of the roofing membrane business, but also own sourcing of raw materials. For us to realize our future growth ambitions we also plan to further reinforce the organization.”

Do you have new specific aims for the medium to long term for ACE?

Alain: “Further improving both employee and customer satisfaction is a specific aim for me personally – and the whole Standard Investment team involved with ACE.”

Martijn: “In the medium to long term we plan to further grow the company together with the employees of ACE.”


About ACE:

ACE, established in 1973, manufactures cast embossed films, laminates of film to nonwoven, and apertured films. The company is located in Liège, Belgium. ACE has the distinction of being one of the very first film producers for the nascent hygiene market back in the ‘70s and was one of the founder members of EDANA, the global trade association for the nonwovens industry.

For many years ACE has specialised in the manufacture of films and laminates for the medical and hygiene single-use market, whilst using the same technologies to create leading edge products for the construction and industrial applications

With high quality, best service and trail-blazing innovation at the heart of the company, ACE is arguably one of the global leaders in its field of expertise.

Contact:

Tricia Featherstone
Commercial Director

ACE srl
Rue de Renory, 499
B-4031 Angleur | Belgium
TVA BE 0413.199.511
RPM Liège

Phone: +32 4 349 86 65
Mobile: +32 475 2754 53
Email: patricia.featherstone@ace-films.be