History of Elzinga Group

Elzinga Group: only natural. For nearly 70 years.

Growing bigger is not something that happens by itself. It takes insight, knowledge and courage. Elzinga Group grew from a contracting company into a versatile all-rounder. Employing 80 men and women, we work hard every day to achieve the best quality and the smartest solutions. And the best projects. Not for ourselves, for our customers. We could certainly be proud of that. But we simply regard it as normal – and have done so for nearly 70 years.

Always looking to tomorrow.
Being in existence for nearly seventy years and permanently growing: you would think that would be underpinned by a carefully considered strategic multi-year growth plan. In fact, no. The secret of Elzinga Group? Looking to tomorrow.And not just to tomorrow, but also to the day after tomorrow, to next year and the year after that. What is going on in the world, in our region? What needs exist? What opportunities exist?

However: identifying openings and opportunities is not enough. Actually seizing openings and opportunities and exploiting them is much more important. That’s what Elzinga Group has been doing for the past 70 years and what we continue to do.

1946, Workum
Eke Elzinga sr. was the founder of what is now the Elzinga Group. As a village blacksmith, he worked first in Workum (Friesland) and then in Klein Ulsda. He went to where the work was. Which is how in 1962 he ended up in Oudeschip; a small village in the province of Groningen. He maintained close contacts with the farmers in the village and the surrounding area, and became familiar with the phenomenon of contract work. He saw an opportunity. Because with four sons at home, he already had a four man workforce ready to go. And they went. The Elzinga contracting company was born.

American equipment
 At that time, the most important focus for Elzinga was swathing: mowing crops like rape seed, peas and poppy seed before drying. This was soon followed by the beet harvest. And that’s also where the innovation began: Elzinga was the first company in the Netherlands to acquire a revolutionary swather from the United States. It worked more efficiently, better and faster. And it was unique.

 Getting through the winter
This contract work was seasonal work. Busy in summer, nothing to do in winter. Which made it hard to survive. So a winter stopgap was found in the shape of a bankrupt machine factory. After all, factories run all year round. The takeover went smoothly and Elzinga expanded properly for the first time.Originally, the factory mainly developed and manufactured lifting and hoisting products for ports and industry. But with all the equipment the factory possessed, it could basically make anything. And it still does: now as then, we sell all kinds of constructions and even our own designs all over the world. So this expansion carried us through more than just the winter.

Land exchange
 Contracting, swathing and a machine factory: a fine combination and plenty of work all year round. The firm could have been content with that, but its ambitions lay higher.

In 1986, the authorities instituted a land exchange operation. Their preference was for local contractors who would take responsibility for the entire process. Elzinga saw opportunities here. In a very short time, we learned to make the necessary drawings and write applications. But not only that: with the purchase of the machine factory, we had also bought software that could automate the hitherto complex calculations and drawings. This delivered a significant edge over our competitors: we could work faster and with fewer errors. We also strengthened our position in the region and received more and more enquiries. And so Elzinga grew even bigger.

 If we can’t do it, we’ll learn it
 It was not just the number of enquiries that increased but also their range. And Elzinga was happy to take anything on. “If we can’t do it, we’ll learn it” was the motto. And this is precisely what happened. Earth-moving, levelling, deep ploughing. Later: transhipment, loading and unloading ships and creating/recreating nature reserves. Upon request, all the necessary knowledge and skills were brought in-house. Dare, do, make mistakes, learn, do it again, get better, a desire to be the best. Always in that order.

And: look to the future. If a trade journal wrote that most of the Dutch sewage system would be replaced in the years to come, that became the latest mission of the Elzinga Group.If Eemshaven was growing, some action had to be taken in response. If machines were standing idle, something new was devised to keep them running.

Changing of the guard
It is clear that Elzinga Group is a family firm. Many Elzingas have played their own roles in building up the company over the years. And they still do.

The growing firm is now run by the third generation of Elzingas. The current CEO, Eke Elzinga, took over the helm from his father in 1993. Years before, founder Eke Elzinga sr., his father’s father, had stepped down. The current shareholders are still all Elzingas.

As CEO, Eke Elzinga knows every facet of the family business. He has worked in various positions within the company over many years and has also had plenty of further training to better himself and above all to improve the Elzinga Group, and meet customers’ wishes. But also, above all, to identify and seize new opportunities.

 More acquisitions
That ambition became a reality. Again by keeping our eyes open and responding sure-footedly to developments. More acquisitions followed: another machine factory, a certification company, but we also added new activities like bulk transhipment, supplying factories and logistics solutions for large factories. These days, we can even keep your financial records for you. Now in 2015, the Elzinga group employs roughly 75 men and women and we manage a similar number in the surrounding region.

Everything is possible
What explains the Elzinga Group’s strength? We’d rather not say. Not out of fear of the competition, but because we think it all pretty much goes without saying. Naturally we work hard, we negotiate cannily and we monitor developments in the market at executive level. But is that really so special? At Elzinga Group, we don’t think so. We just like doing it. Problems do not exist: there is a solution for everything. ‘Can’t’ doesn’t exist either: at Elzinga we make and do everything. What does exist? There is always room for improvement. 

The best evidence for that unspoken philosophy is the development of our own product line which was revolutionary in the realm of lifting. In our own machine factory, with our own engineers and in response to our own needs, we built a hydraulic exchange system that enables cranes to swap grippers much more quickly. Initially designed for our own use, this line of products is now sold worldwide. Proud? Well… We can do it, so we make it.

 Integrity first
If we have to name one thing that explains our success (growing during a global economic crisis can certainly be termed success), then it is our integrity. The genuine will to do good, wonderful things for our customers, the authenticity with which we do it and our perpetual focus on quality and safety. Not as empty words in a brochure or on a website, but in reality.

That is what we select people for at the Elzinga Group. Qualifications are much less important than an honest character and the motivation to deliver quality. It’s OK to make mistakes, after all you learn from them. We encourage the men and women who work for us to develop themselves and move forwards because everyone deserves that opportunity. Not only in terms of their work, by the way. That much is demonstrated by the rally car in the Elzinga garage, currently being prepared for a rally in the UK. Because when you work hard, you need to relax too.

 Future plans
The Elzinga Group is not finished yet. Far from it. As ever, we are keeping a close eye on important developments and we are not ruling out further acquisitions. The recently purchased land around our headquarters in Uithuizermeeden demonstrates that there is still room for growth. Our initial focus is now on expanding the recently launched hijsspecialist.nl. And after that? As ever, time will tell.

    The Elzinga Group is not only concerned with our own plans for the future.  We also take the future of others into account.  For example, by means of our  sustainability plan.