CapitalChange helps Abiom discover new markets

Regional entrepreneurs with growth ambitions or the realization of an exit strategy can meet CapitalChange’s sparring partners and investors on September 22, 23 and 24. Entrepreneurs looking for advice and support will have the opportunity to speak to this group of specialists in the fields of growth, value creation, mergers and acquisitions. These partners also have the opportunity to invest. In other words, a unique opportunity. We spoke with Abiom from Wijchen. Together with CapitalChange this company is working hard to remain in the Champions League, but also to discover new markets.

Market leader

Frank Wessels has been the CEO of Abiom for two years now. He has held various positions within the company since 2003 and in that time saw it grow from six to around a hundred employees. Meanwhile, Abiom has five branches: three in Wijchen, one in Houten and one in Belgium. “We started out offering business GSM subscriptions and devices and installing car kits,” says Wessels. From there, Abiom developed step by step into a company with multiple activities related to communications and networks. It specializes primarily in mission- and business-critical communication solutions, such as in the field of public order and safety. Wessels: “Among other things, we provide the total vehicle assembly for a large proportion of the police and fire vehicles and ambulances in the Netherlands.”

It also supplies, among other things, discreet communication accessories for people who need to remain inconspicuous. Also, almost everyone in defense, public order and security services who uses the national C2000 system is standardized on Abiom’s products. This is done through partnerships and importerships. Another target market is industry. In many of those segments, Abiom is the undisputed market leader. Wessels: “We are particularly good at bringing products together and making them into a total solution. We do that not only in the Netherlands, but also a lot in Belgium and several other countries within and outside Europe.”

New markets

Wessels knows, no matter how well things are going, that standing still is going backwards. “We are always looking for new markets. Another challenge is that we are often too invisible. We don’t shout as loudly. That’s partly because in our market segment we’re not allowed to say everything, but also because we lack marketing experience. We needed help to get all that right.”

Because several people on the board already knew Hans Scholten, Abiom came to him. He has now been involved with the company for over a year as a consultant. At first this was still under the flag of Task Ventures, which he co-founded. Since February, that has been on behalf of CapitalChange. “He has a lot of experience in ICT, which is an advantage. In addition, he comes from the area. The most important thing, however, is that we have a good click,” says Wessels.

Scholten: “Abiom does not need me to grow within their existing markets. They can do that very well themselves. I do like to think along about new areas where their knowledge is useful. A good example is the municipal market, where you see the number of BOAs increasing, among other things. You also see that there are challenges with communication in waterways or coverage in tunnels. I’m helping Abiom with the first steps in that market.”

Lighting fires

Wessels and Scholten spar about weekly. Wessels: “In the first phase, we determined the direction and got everyone in the organization on the same page. Then we picked up practical matters, such as an updated website and a plan for the social media. Now we are preparing the sales people for the future. We are teaching them to think differently. Besides keeping in touch with current customers, they also have to spot opportunities. That remains an ongoing process. When we spar with Hans, we always light a new fire, as it were. That collaboration is very pleasant.” Scholten: “Abiom is champion in the Champions League. I help them to stay that way and to achieve that same level in other sports.”

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