Tuesday, May 31, 2022

First step taken in Management Buy-out process


Lochem, 24 May 2022 

First step taken in Management Buy-out process

Hans Willemsen, who is the owner and managing director of WILA B.V., has decided to gradually transfer leadership and ownership of the company to the current executive board. The first step has been taken in the meantime and Messrs Ir. F.W. Rouweler (Director of Manufacturing and R&D), M.D. Wensing (Director of Sales & Marketing) and Drs. B.G.T. Kempers RA (Director of Finance) have been co-shareholders of WILA B.V. and its subsidiaries since January 2022.

WILA B.V. employs 350 people, has two factories in the Netherlands, subsidiaries in the United States and China, and has developed into a leading player in the sector of tooling systems for sheet metals. Many productivity-improving innovations have materialised in Lochem and are being used as standard industrial components by modern machine constructors and users of such machines. For instance, mechanical crowning, the Safety-Click in New Standard Tooling, hydraulic or pneumatic clamps, robot-based tool changes or “smart” Tool data management.

This means WILA B.V. is a strategic partner that focuses on long-term relationships and partnerships; a position that is based on knowledge, stability, transparency and trust. Also a position that leads to considerable growth each year and requires major investment. And because of this position, stakeholders are confident that the future has been taken into account and that the continuity of the company and its clients is given the attention it deserves. That is why owner Hans Willemsen has decided to gradually transfer leadership and ownership to the current board which, on the one hand, knows the company inside out after working on it for many years and, on the other hand, is young and fresh enough to introduce new ideas. 

Hans-Willemsen   MBO

Drs. J.A.J. Willemsen, Ir. F.W. Rouweler, Drs. B.G.T. Kempers RA, M.D. Wensing 

Messrs Ir. F.W. Rouweler (Director of Manufacturing and R&D), Mr. M.D. Wensing (Director of Sales & Marketing) and Drs. B.G.T. Kempers RA (Director of Finance) have been co-shareholders of WILA B.V. and its subsidiaries since January 2022.

As majority shareholder and Managing Director, Hans Willemsen will continue to play his role in the coming years, and will be fully dedicated to completing the phased handover. We are confident that everyone on the board will continue to cooperate effectively, and promise our stakeholders that we will continue to work relentlessly to further improve productivity in the press brake process. This is something that will benefit the continuity of our relationships with employees and customers. WE LIVE PRESS BRAKE PRODUCTIVITY! 

On 1 October 1932, Mr. J.A.J. Willemsen (the grandfather of Hans Willemsen) set up a forge (WILA) in Laren (province of Gelderland). Over the years, the forge developed into a machine factory. 

J.A.J.-Willemsen   WILA-Laren

In 1960, sons J.J. (Jan) and H.G. (Henk) Willemsen took over the company from their father and joined a group of exporting Dutch companies that operated under the name SAFAN (‘cooperating Dutch factories’). However, conflicts of interest led to the group falling apart, and SAFAN became the exclusive sales organisation of WILA press brakes and cutters. In the 1970s, the brothers decided to split the company into SAFAN and WILA. Jan Willemsen (Hans’ father) took control of WILA, and a sharpening service was established a few years later. WILMACH was then founded in the 1980s, and Jan’s focus shifted to trading in second-hand sheet processing machines.

Jan-Willemsen   Productie-Wila-begin-jaren-80

In 1987, at the age of 28, J.A.J. (Hans) Willemsen joined WILA as executive assistant to his father. He compiled a business plan and presented it to the bank, with the aim of financing a management buy-out. The bank approved the plan, and Hans assumed complete control of WILA in 1989. 


Under the guidance of Hans Willemsen, WILA changed from a general machine factory and trade organisation into a manufacturer of clamps, crowning and tool systems for press brakes, with the aim of improving press brake productivity. At that moment in time, almost every press brake manufacturer had its own tooling system, with a unique holder. The downside of this was that it was impossible to use other tools, and that a wide range of different tools had to be produced. So WILA started a development programme aimed at creating a universal system that would help to improve productivity. “Modufix“ was then introduced; this offered universal solutions for clamps, crowning and tools, and could be used on any press brake.


An improved version was introduced in 2000, and was renamed to create a new global standard called “New Standard”. Thanks to many further developments, innovations and patents, the company was able to realise massive growth.


Besides product development, great emphasis was placed on market development and exports. WILA USA was founded in 1999 and the North American market evolved into one of the main sales markets. More and more machine constructors were added to the customer portfolio in Europe, America, Japan and Asia. In addition, a distribution network was set up to serve customers in local markets, with the intention of selling tools and retrofit solutions for existing machines.

The company also invested heavily in its own production process - “World Class Manufacturing” - in order to guarantee a particular standard of quality. A controlled industrial production process would ensure that the quality offered by WILA always complies with identified requirements and specifications. This continues to be a very important theme until this very day, now that many customers have started to automate and robotise their press brake processes. It is thus essential that clamping and tooling systems always comply with specifications. There is no more room for craftsmanship on the press brake, where operators use makeshift changes to resolve certain inaccuracies. 

Kardex  Kardex

In 2015, WILA started to establish a sales organisation in China, while a tooling factory in Taicang was added in 2019, where press brake tools are produced using exactly the same high-quality approach. 

China-building   WILA-China

In order to keep pace with a rapid increase in customers, and to develop new customers and markets, it proved necessary to also further increase the production capacity in Lochem, for clamps, crowning as well as tools. WILA’s third factory was opened in 2020; a state-of-the-art tooling factory in Lochem, which has made it possible to realise considerable growth in tools as well as tooling systems (clamps and crowning). Thanks to this new factory, a lot of space became available at the existing factory in Lochem and this space was fully utilised to increase capacity for producing essential machine components. 

WILA-Building   WILA-Boven

In the coming years, we will continue with our existing strategy of “World Class Manufacturing”, and believe it is important to quickly establish a factory in the United States. Furthermore, we are using our product development to respond to the latest trends in the automation, robotisation and digitalisation of processes. Data management is also playing an increasingly central role in WILA’s products and core values. Flexibility, speed, reliability, accuracy, sustainability and smartness are the basic ingredients for our product development. We are undergoing a shift from classic mechanical engineering to electronics and IT. Software developments (Webshop, Tool Advisor) and smart tooling app developments have now become an integral part of our range. 

WILA-Tool-Advisor Smart-Tooling-App

The new co-owners, namely Frank Rouweler, Bart Kempers and Michiel Wensing, are proud of this initial first step in the takeover of WILA but mainly see it as a huge responsibility to work on the organisation together with Hans Willemsen in order to assist our valued customers and supply them with excellent products, advice, service and support, so that our customers can be successful in the niche of press brake productivity. 

First step taken in Management Buy-out process

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