Aubia, a pump specialist operating from Ghislenghien, was acquired by MPI Pumps & Irrigation (Pareco Group) on 1 February and was renamed Aubia Group MPI. MPI grew around 40% overnight as a result of this strategic acquisition and is now leading the Belgian market of independent pump distributors. “We simply couldn’t pass up this opportunity”, says Reinier Teunissen, who heads the Pareco Group together with Patricia Palmans.
Reinier Teunissen founded Watertechniek Teunissen together with Patricia Palmans in Hamont-Achel back in 1988. Seven years later, they opened a branch in Hasselt and another three years down the line the two entrepreneurs acquired the business assets of Aqua Mooris. “To avoid competition with my own B2C company Watertechniek Teunissen, I deliberately turned it into a distribution firm, mostly in a different province”, explains Reinier Teunissen. “This is how MPI came about. In 2000, we relocated to Oud-Turnhout and experienced a steep growth curve over the next 10 years. This was followed by a minor downturn after 2011 due to the economic crisis, but we’ve been back on the growth trail since 2013, and rapidly so in recent years. In 2018, the Pareco Group booked a revenue of around EUR 11.4 million, which is an increase of 28%.”
MPI acquired Saer Benelux and Aqua Master Europe in 2015, and in January they added Aubia to the tally, which has a very strong position in Wallonia. Reinier Teunissen: “A major player, certainly not comparable to the first two acquisitions. We grew by 40% overnight with the arrival of Aubia. Aubia used to be a direct competitor of ours, with overlapping activities. It was an opportunity we simply couldn’t pass up. The company was for sale because the owner, Marc van Heuverswyn, decided to chase his other passion and become a chocolatier. Aubia had a lot of stock that posed a problem for many potential buyers. But given we’re a pump specialist just like them, it was perfect for us.”
Reinier Teunissen and Marc van Heuverswyn signed the contract in January.
Negotiations were mostly about the substance of the acquisition. Reinier Teunissen: “Money was barely discussed at all. I accepted the asking price, no questions asked. That certainly helped break the ice. We had been competitors for years and Marc was quite hesitant at first. I deliberately took a very human and transparent approach, by clearly communicating my plans for the future. Once Marc realised that his company wouldn’t be meeting its demise, negotiations were completed quite swiftly. It is essentially a reinforcement rather than an acquisition. Aubia had access to brands, such as Hunter Irrigation, that were very interesting for us and vice versa. The company also has a lot of technical expertise.”
Despite the takeover, Aubia has largely retained its established reputation and independence. “We want to continue their activities, surf their wave and get even more out of it in the end. Except with a reduced stock. We will be centralising it in Arendonk, where we recently purchased a new 3,500m2 warehouse. Sales, offices, service and the pick-up counter will remain in Ghislenghien with a regular picking stock. All 11 staff members of Aubia will retain their jobs, including the new 29-year-old manager. This acquisition is, without doubt, a great step in our continued development, but my hunger has not been satisfied. We want to keep growing. We recently won a great contract for 1,500 stainless steel pumps per year and expect to grow our revenue to EUR 16 million. Distribution company Leo Pumps Europe NV, also part of the Pareco Group, is responsible for the steepest growth. As an independent pump distributor, PMI is now leading the Belgian market. I’d like to expand that role to the Benelux.”