Paques

Leading in wastewater treatment!

When Stephan Bocken joined Paques five years ago as CEO, his mission was to transform the company from a worldwide organization to a global organization, with strongholds on every continent. Looking at the company now, he concludes that Paques is profitable in all regions of the world. “This puts us in a very good position for future growth.”

Stephan Bocken

What is the difference between a world­wide company and a global company?

“A worldwide company is a company with maybe two production sites that sells its products all over the world. That is what we were five years ago, with sites in the Netherlands and China. A global company is a company with regional headquarters and regional production sites. For Paques, this is essential because of the size of our product and because we have to deal with local legislation and procedures.”

So what is the situation of Paques today?

“We are a global company now. We have opened additional production sites in India and Brazil and we have set up regional headquarters in the United States and Kuala Lumpur. In the U.S., we have a strong team in the Boston area. In India we have a full production facility with some hundred em­ployees. Balk, the Netherlands remains our European headquarter an R&D center. Here we decide on the global strategy.”

What was the effort involved in this restructuring of the company?

“Significant investments were needed. When you build up pro­duction in a country like India, you must be patient. We operate in a slow moving market. It takes 18 to 24 months to get known in the market. Then it takes a similar period to convince custo­mers. And after that again it takes 18 to 24 months to build the plant. That is when you generate revenues. Apart from that you have to invest in people to acquire the skills needed.”

What does this mean for the company?

“It means the company must be prepared to invest heavily without immediate returns. Happily, Paques is such a company. Paques is a family owned business. And as is often the case with family owned businesses, the long term vision is very important. This vision is guiding us, not the question where we can get half a percent more margin. In stockholder companies managers often make short term decisions that are not the best in the long term. At Paques, we strive for continuity. It’s a privilege to work for a family owned company.”

Specialist in wastewater treatment

Stephan Bocken (1963) was born in South-Africa. He was educated as a chemical engineer at the University of Cape Town, specializing in wastewater treatment. After completing his education he moved to Germany to work for Ciba, now part of BASF. He worked for the division that produced chemicals for the paper industry and eventually was appointed its global director. In 2007 he transferred to the board of Voith Paper, the world’s largest manufacturer of paper machines.


In October 2013 Bocken joined Paques. “I was flabbergasted by the potential of this company”, he says. “And indeed, we have grown steadily about 8 per cent each year, without any acquisitions. All organic growth. It’s very exciting to work for this company.”

What is the vision of Paques?

“We are an innovation driven company, always on the forefront. That determines our right to exist. Everything we sell, we invented ourselves. Time and time again we have been the first to tackle specific problems. We were the first to introduce anaerobe tech­nology for wastewater treat­ment in the brewing industry, paper indus­try, the ethanol industry and other industries followed. We never let a customer down.”

How do you keep this innovational drive going?

“Innovation takes place in many areas. You have to nurture the right culture and attract the right, passionate people. And give them the freedom and the incentives to experiment and look for new answers. Obviously, being situated in the Netherlands is a great advantage. Half the country is below sea level. Water is in the blood of this nation. There is a significant knowledge infra­structure in this country. We work closely to­gether with univer­sities and research institutes. We spend just under 10 per cent of reve­nues on R&D. That’s a very high number.”

What are your goals for the coming years?

“We always ask ourselves how we can clean water so that there’s an economic optimum. It’s good that there is legislation to ensure clean water. But if you can add an eco­nomic value and turn waste into a resource, then you would have a very strong eco­nomic driving force. Then the earnings could exceed the costs of cleaning the water. We are putting a lot of research effort in this area.”

What are your goals for the coming years?

“We always ask ourselves how we can clean water so that there’s an economic optimum. It’s good that there is legislation to ensure clean water. But if you can add an eco­nomic value and turn waste into a resource, then you would have a very strong eco­nomic driving force. Then the earnings could exceed the costs of cleaning the water. We are putting a lot of research effort in this area.”