The North American animal feed industry is on the eve of major technological innovation. More reason for KSE Process Technology to present itself more increasingly in this market. ‘’Many American companies in the branch will be modernising their factories in the coming years. This offers great opportunities for us.’’
Founded in 1973, KSE Process Technology is a global player in the field of dosing and weighing systems for the animal feed industry. From flour to maize, salt, vitamins and minerals: animal feed can contain up to 50 raw materials. KSE’s equipment, process lines and smart, future-proof software ensure that all ingredients end up in the finished product quickly and in the right dosage. The family business in Bladel, The Netherlands, employs around 160 people, including twenty R&D specialists. In addition, KSE has a flexible production envelope of 80 people for busy times. KSE is active in almost 50 countries, mainly in Europe and Asia.
For about four years, KSE has been trying to gain a foothold in the US market. In Europe – especially in the Netherlands – the past twenty years have seen consolidation, accompanied by major technological innovation and automation. This battle has not yet taken place on the North American market, says Dennis van Lankeren, Head of Sales North America at KSE. ‘’Many of the factories date back to the 1950s and 1960s and are primarily designed for bulk production. In the meantime, KSE is seeing an increasing demand in the US for specific animal feeds that can be produced in small series. The company therefore expects the American market to professionalize and innovate at an accelerated pace in the coming years. ‘’Large agrofood groups such as Nutreco are also becoming increasingly active in the US. This is a sign for us that substantial investments are in the pipeline.’’
Constantly in contact
In 2015, KSE began its American adventure with an extensive market survey: what are the main developments, who are the potential customers and where are they? ‘’We started actively approaching those companies,’’ Van Lankeren says. ‘’We also went to all the relevant trade fairs; first as a visitor, later also with our own booth. This search has led to four projects: three in the US, and one in Canada. In the implementation of these projects, KSE was confronted with different laws and regulations, among other things. ‘’For example, take the American regulation on electricity and wiring. In Europe, we have CE certification for this, which prescribes precisely what a machine must comply with. In the US, they often work with so-called target regulations. Your machine must meet a certain standard, but as a manufacturer you are free in how you achieve this. On top of that, the regulations often differ from state to state. It is therefore important to keep in constant dialogue with customers and authorities to determine what is and is not possible.’’ According to Van Lankeren, companies should not take the step to the United States too lightly. ‘’In the US they say, ‘go big or go home’. It takes a lot of time and money to comply with the regulations and gain the trust of the market. The advantage is that orders are generally larger than in the Netherlands.
Closer to the market
Van Lankeren is satisfied with the progress so far. ‘’We are getting to know the US market better and better. We have already stationed a service employee in Ohio and the St. Louis region may follow soon. We are also considering setting up a local sales office so that we are even closer to the market. And in the longer term, we may have to set up a local production facility.’’
KSE has been receiving support from the Brabant Developtment Agency (BOM) for making the step to North America for about two years now. Van Lankeren benefits greatly from the events organized by BOM and its partners. He mentions Business Week North America as an example.
Furthermore, thanks to the BOM, KSE regularly comes in touch with interesting parties. A recent example is the link with Missouri Partnership, the development company of this US state. ‘’Introductions such as these will help us to develop a meaningful network in the United States’’, Van Lankeren expects. ‘’Moreover, through the BOM, we got in touch with a good administrative and legal office in New York, which, among other things, helped us set up our American legal entity (a so-called Delaware corporation). Thanks to the support of the BOM, we are getting ever closer to our goal: a permanent and profitable presence in the North American market.’’
KSE in figures
- Founded: 1973
- Employees: 160-240
- Turnover: approximately € 30 million in 2018
- Activities in the USA: sales, service network, possibly also production in the future
Source: BOM International Trade –www.bom.nl