Meet the masters | Maas Markelo

In April, we published the first edition of our 'Master Magazine'. This is our internal magazine in which we share employee stories, talk about the latest developments within the company and we speak to customers, in this edition we spoke to Richard Maas, owner of family business Maas Markelo.

Maas Markelo: A close family business

Richard Maas is the owner of the family business Maas Markelo and an entrepreneur at heart. The company can be divided into three branches; agricultural contract work for livestock farming, soil drilling and groundwork and arable farming. In fact, Maas Markelo have an arable farm on more than 200 hectares of land with various crops, including potatoes, sugar beet and grain. The company is located on the Sligsweg in Markelo and now the fourth generation is at the helm.

How it all started
The company was founded in 1953 by Richard Maas's great-grandfather. At the time, it started as a contracting company, but Maas decided in 1975 to also focus on soil drilling and groundwork on a small scale. Within the agricultural sector, Maas Markelo is mainly engaged in arable farming, especially the cultivation of sugar beet, grain and potatoes. From 2016, they focused on this even more and expanded, in order to do more work in arable farming.

Maas Markelo: a close family company
For 10 years, Richard has been part of the company, which he currently runs with his father. What's nice is that he himself lives about 20 metres away from the company, just like his parents. Grandfather Maas lives a stone's throw away in the village. Ideal, as he still comes to take a look at the farm every day. 'I think contract work is the most beautiful profession there is because you are busy producing food. You make farmers happy because the crops are harvested on time and so you get good products.' He continues; 'With us, quality always comes first. We are always working to achieve the best quality'.

Entrepreneur at heart
When asked what he likes best about doing, he answers right away with 'being an entrepreneur'. Richard Maas is an entrepreneur at heart and is there day and night for his clients and his business. 'I am not someone who has to do the executive work, I have really done that in the past, but what I like best of all is the organizational part that I am involved in every day.' Every day, he discusses with his father and grandfather about the company and various questions that arise. Of course, sometimes you get to hear a different opinion or a dissenting voice, but that's necessary to brainstorm together'. He continues: 'If you want to get better at your job, you don't always have to agree with each other, it keeps you on your toes'.

The agricultural sector
'There is a lot of unrest in the sector, which can sometimes be quite demotivating,' explains Maas. Of course, they notice this in Markelo too. 'It's not that it keeps me awake at night, but of course you're working on it every day.' Maas continues; 'Then again, what gives me energy is when clients express appreciation for the work we do, that gives motivation to go the extra mile.' The agricultural sector will never disappear, Richard Maas is convinced of that. 'The unrest within the sector has to go away first. Things will start to change within the sector, but what exactly that is, is hard to say. He continues; 'Change does not always have to be bad, it also offers opportunities. However, a bit of clarity on the plans for the sector will be nice.'

SVgroup & Maas Markelo
Several machines from Schuitemaker, Veenhuis and Jan Veenhuis can be found on the company's estate. The company has the longest relationship with Schuitemaker. 'I don't really know anything else but that we have always worked with Schuitemaker Machines here,' Richard says. Richard explains that this was chosen at the time because the factory is close by. At Maas, they see that as an advantage, because this way there are short lines between SVgroup and Maas Markelo. He also says that there has never been a reason to change brands because the experience with the machines has always been good. After Schuitemaker and Veenhuis merged in 2019, the company came into contact with the Veenhuis brand. So last year, the company added a Premium Quad-Shift with Fullject X-line slurry injector to their machinery fleet. Jan Veenhuis brand machines can also be found on the premises, namely a container bucket for a hook loader system. 'SVgroup's brands and machines have a certain look that suits our business, also repairs are carried out neatly.'

The farm runs a total of three Rapides, two Siwas, a Robusta 260, a Premium Quad-Shift with Fullject X-line slurry injector and a Jan Veenhuis container bucket. A Veenhuis mobile weighbridge can even be found on site. This weighbridge is no longer produced, but is still used very regularly by Maas.

Vision for the future
'We currently have three branches within our company and want to stay at this level at least. And where possible, grow and expand even further,' Maas indicates. 'This of course depends on the demand from our customers. Due to the unrest in the sector, several contracting companies are going out of business, including in the area where Maas Markelo operates     . 'This of course offers opportunities for us, because there will be a bit more space. You always have to deal with the market and at the moment I don't see the market growing yet, but rather getting smaller. Still, Richard Maas prefers to see them operate on a smaller scale, mainly with contract work, rather than expanding their area. 'This way, we can continue to guarantee the quality of the work we provide and, of course, we are also facing tightness in the labour market, which makes it difficult to find enough staff to work in a wider area.' However, Maas is open to growing in their own area. 'If more opportunities come up for us here in the area, I am definitely open to that,' Richard Maas said.

Continuing to innovate and respond to the market is becoming increasingly important, partly because regulations in the Netherlands are constantly being updated. Techniques are getting smarter all the time, providing solutions to multiple problems within the agricultural sector. 'Cost price and quality are important. Purely looking at the techniques that Schuitemaker and Veenhuis already have in house at the moment, SVgroup is responding well to this.'

'I know a number of sales people within SVgroup and it's easy to work with them,' says Maas. Direct communication is      important to me.Also, being able to have a normal conversation with each other. Some of them have been coming here for a long time, since I was a little boy. That creates a bond of trust'.■

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