Zebra makes strides on Dutch soil
  • HTSM
  • Internationalizing

Zebra makes strides on Dutch soil

American Zebra Technologies is a world leader in marking, tracking and computer printing technologies and is known for its barcode printers and scanning technology. 2019 marks the company's 50th anniversary and next year marks the 15th anniversary of the European distribution center's move from England to Heerenveen. A move that went a lot smoother with the support of the NOM.

In 2004, Zebra Technologies' European distribution center was located in Preston, Britain. It was a small warehouse and annual sales were less than US$250 million. Operations Director Europe Lester Arts says, "The company wanted to grow and wanted to locate the distribution center in continental Europe. We knew there was a site in Heerenveen previously used by Tektronics and later Xerox and we knew some key people who could set it up." But before we could take the plunge, we needed vital information. We contacted the NOM in Groningen and the local government."

Access to local information

One person in particular proved invaluable in providing the necessary information: Wubbo Everts, Foreign Direct Investments project manager at NOM. "There was a relationship of trust and he was great at providing information at the national level on things like working conditions and the political climate and at the regional level on education and quality of life," Lester explains. "It was very important to understand the local infrastructure and also how access was to Schiphol Airport and the port in Rotterdam. For essential information like this, we need a reliable source. Wubbo and the NOM are that source for us."

The move to Heerenveen

With the comprehensive information from NOM, Zebra Technologies decided to move to Heerenveen in 2005. "It has been repeatedly proven that this was the right decision, says Lester. "Today, Zebra's European sales are one-third of the company's multi-million dollar global sales. In 2014, we acquired Enterprise Business from Motorola Solutions. It was a big coup, because Motorola was a large and successful company, while Zebra was much smaller. But it turned out to be a big challenge to integrate this business." Motorola did, however, have distribution centers in Germany, and at the time all European locations were subjected to a full assessment to determine the best future locations. Lester: "There was of course some nervousness that Heerenveen would not be selected. But still! And the assessment showed once again that the move to Heerenveen was the right choice. "

Moving, trade and rates

To this day, the relationship between Zebra and NOM is of great importance and has benefited both parties. For example, Lester Arts has shared his company's success story with other American companies looking to relocate to the Netherlands. And especially to the north of the country. And for Zebra, NOM remains a reliable source of information. Says Lester, "There are many challenges for companies regarding changing trade tariffs and the Brexit. NOM invited me to lunch with the U.S. ambassador and it was a fantastic opportunity to really understand the situation. And, for example, to have an open discussion about tariffs. I highly recommend companies with international ambitions to work with NOM and I am already looking forward to our ongoing relationship with them in the years to come."