NOM spotlight - Wortmann Environmental Technology is ready for the future
Max Wortmann (34) has been on an intensive journey as an entrepreneur for the past seven years. His arrival at Wortmann Environmental Technology was the beginning of a strategic turnaround that will be crowned this spring with the completion of two large production halls in Emmen. For Max - who won the Young Entrepreneur Award in 2021 - it feels like he is on the eve of a new chapter. But first, we look back with him at the journey that led to this point.
It actually started way before Max put his studies in business economics on hold in 2015 to help out in the family business. 'My father founded Wortmann Milieutechniek in 1991 as a trading company in compactor containers,' Max explains, 'Later maintenance, service and a workshop were added. In my youth, that workshop was quite an experience. I went there often and there was always something to do. What started with small jobs became a serious side job as I got older. From the age of fifteen I started working at other companies to gain experience. I worked with tractors, shovels and excavators, got a truck driving license, and after a few years decided to study business economics.'
"The drive to learn and develop was in me from a young age," Max continues, "Whether I'm operating an excavator, steering a sailing ship, doing an education, climbing a mountain, or piloting a company in the right direction: I want to master everything I undertake to perfection and get the most out of it. In that sense, I live up to my name: living to the max. Although that attitude can also be a pitfall in entrepreneurship, I have found. Sometimes I want too much too soon. Although in the beginning that was also due to the great challenge we faced when I joined our family business. It was a formative period in which I immediately encountered myself as an entrepreneur. Not easy, but absolutely instructive.
Strategic growth plan
The dip that Wortmann Environmental Engineering had been stuck in after the banking crisis called for a breakthrough. Son Max had fresh ideas and in 2015 was given the opportunity to put them into practice. 'As company manager, I immediately rolled up my sleeves. On the shop floor, I did what was needed, from planning, administration and part of sales to driving the truck. But to get out of the slump, we had to build on the foundation my father had laid. So I wrote a strategic plan for the future and managed to get an investor and then the bank to support this growth plan. Moreover, I found a strategic partner in one of our suppliers, which enabled us to take concrete new steps.
Wortmann Environmental Technology is ready for the future Max Wortmann (34) has been on an intensive journey as an entrepreneur for the past seven years. His arrival at Wortmann Milieutechniek was the beginning of a strategic change that will be crowned this spring with the completion of two large production halls in Emmen. For Max, it feels like he is on the eve of a new chapter. But first, we look back with him at the journey that led to this point.
'Essential was the upscaling of the workshop, which at 250 m2 had been too cramped for years,' continues the young entrepreneur, who took over the business entirely from his father in 2017. 'We already had plans for a new building, but that took time. In order to be able to take on more and especially larger projects anyway, we first rented a 1,000-square-meter warehouse. That expansion allowed us to grow. And that worked out so well that last year we started new construction: in April the completion of two production halls of 1,000 m2 each, with large overhead cranes, is planned. That is truly a milestone for our company. Meanwhile, the team has also more than doubled, from six to 14 people. They have worked hard and shown tremendous flexibility in recent years. Together we have gone through a transformation, which is why I see the Young Entrepreneur Award as a crowning achievement for the efforts of the entire team.
Inspire and motivate
As a booster, Max had plenty of momentum, although he also learned to temper. "In my enthusiasm I was always ten steps ahead, but pushing is not the way to run a business. In this entrepreneurial journey, I have gradually learned to inspire, motivate and take people with me in what I see before me. This is thanks in part to fine sparring partners, such as my father - who still does sales - and our investor, as well as the support and advice of teachers, fellow students and friends who are entrepreneurs themselves. All these different perspectives contribute to my vision of the company as well as teach me something about my own role in it. By integrating more rest and balance, I stay closer to myself and stand in my power. Sometimes I need to slow down in order to stay in the flow.
'Personal development is part and parcel of entrepreneurship, because your growth as a person is linked to the development of the company,' states the inspired director. 'That's why I finished my business economics studies in 2019 and have now also almost finished a part-time master's degree in Management at Nyenrode Business University. In addition, practice will always remain a learning experience, both for myself and for the professionals within our company. We have a nice mix of experienced employees and eager-to-learn juniors who are interested in the combination of metalworking, hydraulics and control systems. Fortunately, there is plenty of growing talent. We are a company on the move and that attracts young people. Our contribution to sustainable waste processes and the circular economy also appeals; in addition to new equipment, we also market refurbished compactors.'
In the right direction
At last year's Young Entrepreneur Award, Wortmann Milieutechniek scored high on points such as innovativeness, scalability, financial continuity, sustainable entrepreneurship and strategic vision. According to the jury, it is Max himself who really makes a difference as a young entrepreneur. It made me reflect on my passion and ambition to make the impossible possible, together with the people around me. And that is what I continue to do. I am still growing in my role and making more conscious choices. Delegating tasks more often, for example, so that the processes run smoothly without me. This way I create space to work more with the company, instead of in the company. I focus on the strategy, always wanting to be ready for the next step. Keeping in mind what I learned while sailing: sailing hard is only useful if you are going in the right direction.
Wortmann Environmental Engineering
Wortmann Milieutechniek sells and rents various types of waste presses and provides their transport and maintenance throughout the Netherlands, on behalf of distribution centers, production companies, municipal collection depots, printing companies and hospitals, among others. In the workshop in Emmen, obsolete compactors are overhauled with skill and love. Customers can also have custom solutions built at Wortmann for separating and compacting their waste: from self-pressing containers to transfer stations and waste separation plants.