Onno Ellens will pass the baton in a few years

November 2022

Fourth generation is in the starting blocks at Ellens Agricultural Engineering

The fourth generation of Ellens is already eagerly waiting at Ellens Landbouwtechniek in Nagele. But owner Onno Ellens (57) is not quite ready to pass the baton to his sons Mark and Ruben. ‘Not until about three years from now will there be a changing of the guard here. But the boys have already joined the company to prepare for their future within our family business.’

The fourth generation to run the company. That’s pretty special, Ellens acknowledges. What the secret is? ‘No idea. It’s just always passed from father to son. And each generation had its own challenges; my sons will experience that too. But that’s what makes it so much fun.’ The big advantage is that the boys know the company inside out. ‘They’ve been working here since childhood, they practically grew up here. And what’s really nice for me: I can just keep working here until I’m seventy. Without the responsibilities of director, I will be able to focus again on the things I enjoy doing in the company. In this way, I can continue working for a long time after the takeover.

“Only the typesetting and cutting work is supplied, for the rest we have everything in-house.

The history His grandfather Klaas Ellens settled in Nagele in 1964. Before that, his company had been in Kraggenburg since it was founded around 1959. ‘The company then was nothing like what it is today. My grandfather had an agricultural forge. He still shoeed horses here that worked in the fields.’ With mechanization in agriculture, Ellens became more and more of a farm machinery company. ‘Even then, my grandfather sometimes developed them himself. The very first thing made here was a sack harvester. With that, the harvest was put into a sack right from the land.’ When his father Piet Ellens had taken over the company, he decided to focus more on developing machines. So in the 1980s he went to the Agricultural RAI to market that industry a bit more. ‘That was a smart move, because the Landbouw RAI was really a trade fair that attracted the entire agricultural world. We built up a huge customer base there from all over the world. Some are still customers with us today.’ It resulted in the company’s own machine brand Samon, which was created in 1985.

Focus on development branch In 1999, after his grandfather and father, it was the turn of Onno, then 35 years old. He soon noticed that the repair, sale and maintenance of agricultural machinery, was no longer easy to combine with the development branch of Ellens. ‘It had been in the family for fifty years when I decided to quit the mechanization part in 2010. A difficult decision, but in retrospect I can say that I should have done it much earlier.’ The focus after his decision came to be entirely on his own machine brand, Samon. And that is what Ellens is still fully engaged in to this day. ‘We develop and build machines to order. About 80 percent of them are for onion harvesting. And then the complete process, so from machines for haulm folding, harvesting and loading.’

All over the world These constructions go all over the world from the polder village of Nagele; 10 to 15 percent remain in the Netherlands. ‘We have machines in every country where onions are grown. And we have our own dealer for each country,’ Ellens says proudly. They are built in the factory on Ploegstraat in all shapes and sizes, because each country has different wishes and requirements. ‘Only the typesetting and cutting work is supplied, for the rest we have everything in-house. Engineers, draftsmen, work planners, our own welding shop and paint shop. So we can offer our customer the complete package.’ And the company does that so well that the team can no longer meet demand by now. With some 300 machines a year, production is at its peak. Should his successors then just focus on growth? Ellens doesn’t think so. ‘A little is not wrong, but the profit in our company is not in growth. I think the guys should focus much more on our operations and efficiency. I think there is still a battle to be made there.’

Facts & figures

  • Founded by grandfather Klaas Ellens
  • Since 1964 in Nagele
  • (Grand)son Onno Ellens succeeds father Piet in 1999
  • Fully focused on development since 2010
  • 300 machines per year
  • 80% of machines are for onion harvesting
  • 10 to 15% goes to Dutch market
  • New factory built in 2019

Bron: Gemeente Noordoostpolder – Ondernemer Centraal (10-12-2021)