Krekel van der Woerd Wouterse

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Krekel van der Woerd Wouterse (management consultants) BV (1960 - 1996) was a pioneer and for several decades a leader in the Dutch market for strategy and general management consultancy services.

History and business activity[edit]

Krekel van der Woerd Wouterse ("KWW") was founded in 1960, when Jaap Wouterse, Teun van der Woerd and Nico Krekel decided to leave Bosboom & Hegener, at the time the leading consultancy firm in The Netherlands in the field of Taylorist productivity improvement. Inspired by the first major assignment of McKinsey & Company in Europe, a corporate restructuring project for Royal Dutch Shell in 1958, the trio had started pushing the idea of introducing strategy consulting as a new business activity within Bosboom & Hegener. It was their conviction this new activity could be sold at higher rates to more senior executives than Bosboom & Hegeners bread and butter business of executing time analyses on shop floors. When their ideas were turned down, they decided to prove them right by setting out on their own. After a short sojourn in Amsterdam, the firm chose Rotterdam as its permanent base of operations.

Krekel van der Woerd Wouterse ("KWW") thus became one of the first strategic consulting firms in The Netherlands and it remained one of its leaders until the beginning of the 1990s. By that time, the company provided organization and strategy advice to numerous listed and other big companies, with ING Bank, DAF Trucks, Smit Internationale, Ahrend Groep, Pont Meyer and Wavin as notable examples. In the 1980s KWW played a crucial role in the restructuring of the production and distribution of energy in The Netherlands. It acted as advisor to the central government and to most regional utility companies in the process that lead to the wholesale privatization and concentration of the sector. Finally, KWW also had a significant presence in the market for restructuring troubled companies on behalf of their lenders. In these assignments KWW would not only write a restructuring plan, but would proceed to take management responsibility for the execution of a turn-around. A notable success was the turn-around of Hak Conserven, technically bankrupt in 1985 and sold for over ƒ 100 million to foods conglomerate CSM in 1990.

KWW remained relatively small throughout its existence, with the number of fee earners reaching a maximum of 22 in 1987. Turnover in that year reached ƒ 7 million. A ƒ 2 million profit was split between six acting partners.

The decline of the company after 1990 can be attributed to two factors. The retirement of its founder Nico Krekel in 1988 left the company without the intellectual and inspirational force that had kept its diverse strands together in the years before. A real successor did not emerge. Some prominent partners wanted to move from mere consulting work towards taking responsibility and financial risk in the turn-around process of troubled companies. When they failed to convince their colleagues of the merits of this policy change, several of them decided to leave and set up their own private equity boutiques. The relatively junior group of partners that took over, believed the remaining consulting operation was too small to compete effectively with the big international firms that had come to dominate the market. KWW was sold to Deloitte Consulting in 1996.

Notable former partners and employees[edit]

  • Maik Willems, a former CEO of KWW, now owner and CEO of Bastion Hotels, a chain of 29 hotels in The Netherlands
  • Peter Berdowski, CEO of Royal Boskalis Westminster, the largest dredging company in the world
  • Jos van Tol, owner and CEO of Kaemingk, the leading importer of season decorations in Europe
  • Piet Veenema, CEO of Kendrion, a Euronext listed company with diversified manufacturing activities
  • Marcus van den Hoek, until 2006 general manager of Deloitte Consulting in The Netherlands
  • Ivo Wildenberg, CEO of Bridgecraft.
  • Paul Zekhuis, former CEO Hagemeyer, now CEO SHV Energy
  • Carlo Stokx, CEO Global Operations & Information Services at Synovate, a leading market research company