Royal Kaak: transformation requires cultural change

At Boer & Croon, we do not shy away from radical transformation. The interplay between people, processes, and technology is a key success factor here. A conversation with Theo Lammers and Thijs Meijnen of Royal Kaak, and Gita Hoogeveen, Associate Partner of Boer & Croon about a special assignment.

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From Silo to Truck
Royal Kaak is a leading player in the world of bakery technology, from stand-alone machines to an integrated approach for complex and automated bakery lines. With a strong focus on innovation, sustainability and growth, the company has established a leading position in Europe and is among the top three worldwide.

Transformation requires culture change

Theo: 'Kaak Group is transforming from a traditional machine manufacturer to a service provider that helps customers develop and maintain integrated bakeries. The company is now emphasising unburdening customers and offering comprehensive service packages. This requires a different mindset and way of working. So, searching for a new managing director for Kaak Dough Technology (KDT) was also a key focus.
We saw that it was difficult to embrace the required integrated approach and work out this whole concept as a group. KDT was seen more as a standalone company working purely on dough. We then asked Gita, as interim managing director, to guide the team through that transformation. She succeeded excellently in doing so. KDT now communicates much more with the group and she has ensured that the team understands why we want to move in this direction with the group and what KDT's role is in this.'

'In doing so, Gita has managed to achieve quite a cultural shift.'

Thijs Meijnen - Royal Kaak

collaborating and listening

What should I imagine about dough technology?
: 'Dough is a living organism that reacts strongly to humidity and temperature, making it a complex process to deliver consistent quality. Kaak Group's Technology Centre plays a crucial role in this. Here, technologists work with experienced bakers to help customers optimise the baking process. New technological developments are continuously introduced here, such as using sensors to collect data, new oven technologies, and sustainability initiatives to make production lines CO2-neutral and meet market demands.'

'KDT really has a unique position within the group,' says Gita. "It is the beating heart where continuous innovation takes place. At the same time, extra attention was needed for the product range, partly due to the developments and expectations from the market in recent years. Then, the head office came up with the new concept, ´Together One Jaw,´ and KDT also had to be managed from within the group, which was very much anticipated. So yes, things had to change. So I had to make sure that this cooperation got going. And that people listened to each other more.'

Quite a multi-layered assignment. How did you approach it?

: 'As interim director, Gita played a crucial role in the renewal of KDT. She worked on connecting different departments, increasing employee ownership, and creating a culture of innovation and pride.'

'Gita showed people they can do more than they think,' Thijs adds. ''She gave them confidence, returned to the core and encouraged them to show initiative and take responsibility. (Too) many activities were driven from the group, whereas logically, this should be done from the various specialised centres, where the knowledge is.
In doing so, Gita managed to bring about quite a cultural change. This may sound a bit exaggerated, but until recently, the organisation was top-down driven, as usual in a machine factory. Gita then worked very hard to build bridges between Food Processing Systems (FPS) and KDT and operate as Kaak Group.'

'It was important to put people back in their power and make sure they got the right focus'

Gita Hoogeveen - Boer & Croon

Foundation for growth strategy

Boer & Croon always focuses on the interplay between people, processes, and technology. What were the first steps?
: 'Gita particularly focused on improving the organisation and cooperation. She started by establishing a logical organisational structure, clearly defining team members' roles, and dividing the work better, thus solving bottlenecks. She also professionalised the organisation on the process side. All this contributed to a necessary improvement in profitability, thus laying the foundation for the growth strategy. Furthermore, under her leadership, the product portfolio was strengthened.'

'It was important to put people back in their power and ensure they got the right focus,' says Gita. 'At my farewell, I was told I gave KDT back its sense of self-worth. By simply expressing confidence, professionalising, and being transparent. That has done something to the team. Thijs helped me a lot in identifying the gaps within KDT.

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Royal Kaak 04 05 2022 Nieuwkuijk 15