Stratfield in Zwolle: Werken aan waarde voor aandeelhouders

Allowing the human dimension to prevail

Interview with Wieger Wiegersma, director and owner at Axxor

‘Dreadfully complicated and dreadfully interesting’ is how Wieger Wiegersma describes his work at ‘his’ Axxor, an internationally renowned developer and producer of – mainly recycled – paper honeycomb constructions. Constructions that find their way to various industries, including the automotive, furniture and packaging industry. ‘Wherever lightweight, strong and sustainable stiffening materials are needed, we can provide a solution with our paper honeycomb and we are doing this for a growing number of customers. We’ve really got the wind in our sails.’

Apart from being CEO, Wieger Wiegersma is also the owner of Axxor. Where his responsibilities as shareholder are concerned, Wieger has some interesting, almost philosophical, ideas. The latter is not all that surprising. ‘I’ve travelled a lot during my life and I’ve spent a great deal of time in the Asian cultures. Within these cultures, there is a lot of focus on ownership. The good thing about this – depending on how you look at it – is that ownership within these cultures is service-oriented. Ownership is not about ‘raking in the money’, but about giving it away. This intrigues me immensely. The more I thought about it, the more evident it became to me that there are three types of shareholder. Let me be clear about this, I’m not making any judgements here.’

‘You have shareholders who are in it purely for the financial return. You also have shareholders who see their company as a vehicle to  fund their own lifestyle. And you have, what I call, the caretakers. What does a caretaker do in my opinion? Let me explain. A caretaker makes every effort to create a fine organisation. Your next question is, of course, what is a fine organisation? Obviously, I can only answer this for myself because fine is clearly a very subjective concept. For me, a fine organisation is one where all the employees are in the right place and where they feel they are making a contribution to the end product. An end product they can be proud of. Everyone does this according to their own capacities. Working on this is how I fulfil my role as shareholder.’

‘Is somebody indispensable because of this? Everyone in life is indispensable. If someone leaves they always leave an empty space behind them. In my opinion, the emphasis lies on how you fill in that space again. That goes for me too. I’m not getting any younger. How am I going to leave my company behind me later on? We are now already thinking about my succession behind the scenes. I decided it would be wise to take on a co-shareholder now to streamline the process. You understand, of course, that this had to be a shareholder who understands me and is happy to follow my path. This is not something you can simply discuss at the end of an afternoon. This involves many in-depth discussions.’

‘In Wadinko, I found a co-shareholder I can level with. A co-shareholder who understands my caretaker-ship and endorses it. But then what? Because you can talk about having a vision, about policy, but at a certain moment signatures are required. And suddenly we were talking about concrete values. About sums of money. I certainly didn’t feel comfortable about this. And then the men from Stratfield came into the picture. They supported me during the ‘hard’ phase, in a way that gave me confidence and peace of mind. Perhaps the best description of caretaker-ship is that you allow the human dimension to prevail in what you do and how you do it. My experience is that you always find like-minded people on your path. And yes, you can certainly take that as a compliment for Stratfield!’