Obel-P: Evolving with Integrity & Embracing Evolution
June 28, 2023
Obel-P (“Obel-P” or “the Company”), an industry-leading automation equipment manufacturer, has undergone significant transformations over the past decade. We had the pleasure of speaking with Ivan Madsen, a long-time employee and current CEO and Sales Manager, about the Company’s history, the dynamics among its core team members, the past year post-acquisition, and facing challenges in a rapidly changing global market. Keep reading to learn more about Obel-P’s growth, evolution, and future prospects.
Obel-P is an equipment manufacturing company located in Herning, Denmark. Since 1956, the Company has been specializing in the production of automation equipment for the wood industry, with an aim to decrease the reliance on human capital. Over the years, the Company has fostered a strong brand reputation within the wood industry due to its high-quality custom offerings.
The Dynamic Trio: Ivan, Markus, and Michael
Ivan Madsen’s journey began at Obel-P in 1987 when the Company had only five employees. At this time, Obel-P was split into two parts: Obel-P in Copenhagen and Ufffe Sass Maskinfabrik in Herning; Ivan worked at the latter and in 2003, he was joined by Markus Hofmann who was employed by Obel-P since 1989. Over the years, Ivan and Markus worked in various roles and progressed from being workshop employees to managers. Their experiences as employees have informed the way in which they cultivate the Obel-P team and strive towards the Company’s success. In 2003, Obel-P Copenhagen and Uffes Sass Herning merged and the business became officially known as Obel-P. Since then, various operational and project-related decisions have driven the Company’s continued success.
In 2005, Markus developed a new High-Frequency press technology for IKEA. This technology provided a unique new way of producing glue board in a continuous flow, which optimizes the use of timber and wood. This development had major advantages for IKEA. From 2005 to 2011, Obel-P sold 13 lines to IKEA, thereby illustrating the success of this project and Markus’ innovation.
In 2009, Ivan spearheaded the expansion of sales to the window and door industry in Scandinavia, a move that proved instrumental in driving Obel-P’s revenue growth. “After a few years in this role,” began Ivan, “I told my boss that we had the opportunity to launch sales in Scandinavia because our revenue pipeline was decreasing in Denmark, and we hadn’t yet explored Norway or Sweden. After some time canvassing throughout Scandinavia, business in this region began to make up roughly 50% of our annual revenue.”
In 2013, Obel-P experienced a personnel turnaround and Michael Bonnichsen was hired as Production Manager. Shortly thereafter, Michael was awarded more responsibility and added Service Manager to his title. In the last decade, Michael has proven his sales skills and his special ability to complete machine installation to the full satisfaction of Obel-P’s customers. As Service Manager, Michael often influences customers to sign long-term service contracts with the Company while he is on-site overseeing an installation.
Ivan, Markus, and Michael each contribute their distinct expertise to Obel-P. Ivan’s business and sales skills drive the Company's revenue growth; Markus excels as a salesman for High-Frequency Technology; and Michael is production-oriented and focuses on nurturing customer relationships. Their complementary skill sets and collaborative approach have been pivotal in steering Obel-P in the right direction.
Elevating Via Acquisition
For several years, Ivan, Markus, and Michael were aware that Obel-P’s previous owner was interested in selling the Company. Thankfully, the trio played an active role in evaluating potential buyers and ultimately recommended Lynx due to its commitment to preserving a company's integrity and long-term objectives. “We were quite open with our previous boss,” shared Ivan. “We told him that if we were to work with a new owner, it would have to be with Lynx because the other buyer was only interested in one part of Obel-P and we could see that they would probably remove or close other parts of the Company. With Lynx, we were certain that we'd all be together and that Obel-P would live on for many years.”
It was also crucial for Ivan to reassure Obel-P’s employees of continued job security. “After informing our employees of what was going on, they showed interest and I could be certain that everyone would be staying with us at Lynx. As a team, we could continue working together to ramp up and become a bigger machine manufacturer in Herning.” To date, Obel-P’s experience with Lynx emphasizes its main focus when exploring a new acquisition: Maintaining a business’ legacy, brand, and reputation while bolstering its employees, projects, and operational goals.
Since the acquisition, Ivan shared that there haven't been significant changes initiated by Lynx. Though as CEO, Ivan gained final decision-making authority which granted him a greater sense of responsibility. “In addition to making more decisions and taking on more responsibility,” began Ivan, “we were able to start a renovation for the office, which will improve customer visits and enable more interdepartmental collaboration.” This renovation came at a perfect time: Obel-P’s project pipeline has been rapidly increasing and the warehouse’s space became limited. This renovation also led to expanding the workshop and purchasing an adjacent property.
After reviewing all options, the Obel-P team decided on Tonny’s Autoservice: a 2,700 sq. ft. space next door to Obel-P’s existing warehouse. Following this purchase, Ivan expressed his satisfaction with Lynx’s partnership throughout this process. “As we were searching for the best land, we received full support from Lynx. With this new purchase, Obel-P can continue its strong evolution.” Given the Company’s record-breaking numbers, opportunities, and ability to balance its offerings across various market segments, we have a very positive outlook for the future of Obel-P.
Memorable Projects & Partnerships
Ivan reminisced about one of the most exciting projects the Obel-P team worked on – a breakthrough sale of the first window machine for assembly in Norway back in 2011. This marked the beginning of a successful product line that has contributed significantly to Obel-P's annual revenue; the Company recently sold its 55th model of this machine.
In 2016, Markus visited Binderholz in Austria, which is one of the world’s largest suppliers of wood and wooden beams. After two years of nurturing the relationship, Binderholz placed its first order and subsequently two more after that. This partnership also led to increased business via word-of-mouth recommendations and more Danish companies are now purchasing Obel-P’s High-Frequency Technology. Importantly, this High-Frequency Technology has been a major stream of revenue for the Company, thereby demonstrating its reliability and stability.
Due to Obel-P’s diversified offerings, they are able to weather market fluctuations and maintain operational stability. “Typically, we have smaller orders which are around €100,000,” began Ivan, “but this new project is quoted at €2.5M which is huge for us.” As the Company’s project pipeline continues to grow, so does its team.
Building the Team
Labour shortages have been globally recognized over the past three years and Obel-P is not exempt from this challenge. Although the Obel-P team recognizes the importance of hiring personnel with skill and expertise in the manufacturing industry, they are also focused on cultivating a team of personable, open-minded individuals who welcome challenges and do not shy away from learning new skills.
In particular, Michael has been very effective at finding the right employees for the production, service, and High-Frequency departments. He is focused on sourcing adaptable, capable, and sociable individuals who are quick to embody the Obel-P spirit. Obel-P’s strategic recruitment has become a priority and we are excited to learn about the deserving individuals that join their team.
Since being founded nearly 70 years ago, Obel-P has evolved into a leader within the machine manufacturing industry. More specifically, the last decade has been a testament to the resilience, adaptability, and commitment of its core team. With a strong foundation and a focus on innovation and customer satisfaction, Obel-P is well-positioned for continued success in the years to come. We are very proud to have Obel-P as part of the Lynx family and we look forward to seeing what they accomplish in the future!