Roskilde, Denmark-headquartered Vestergaard Company has acquired the remaining shares it had not previously purchased in Swedish pushback specialist Kalmar Motor, thereby becoming its sole shareholder
What Vestergaard and Kalmar describe as their “strategic partnership” has developed over the seven or so years they have been working together, such that prior to this latest news the companies were already working closely on sales and service functions.
Stefan Vestergaard, Vestergaard’s CEO, comments: “We are delighted to have been given the opportunity to continue the proud legacy of Kalmar Motor. We are extremely proud to be able to bring together the best-in-class products and offer our customers a strong brand such as Kalmar Motor. Both companies place a great emphasis on delivering highly efficient and sustainable airport equipment to customers around the world.”
Magnus Johansson, Kalmar’s CEO, adds: “It has been important for me to ensure the continuity of Kalmar Motor – for the benefit of the customers and employees. Our long-term partnership has been a success, and I am confident Vestergaard Company is the best owner to take Kalmar Motor to the next level.”
The two companies are expected to continue to operate as independent companies with their own product brands. Johansson is to sit on the Board of Directors, offering his support in the transition period.
According to a jointly issued statement, the co-operation between the companies will be “further strengthened to position each better for future growth”. Moreover: “In the short term, investments have been made to increase the production capacity [of] Kalmar Motor, in order to keep up with the growing demand for their innovative electrical tractors.”
Vestergaard’s marketing manager, Karina Læssøe, tells Airside that the collaboration between the two GSE manufacturers started with Vestergaard Company becoming a service partner for Kalmar Motor in North America in January 2015. Vestergaard started out having a minority stake in Kalmar Motor and gradually worked towards full ownership that took effect on 1 October this year.
She explains that both Kalmar Motor and Vestergaard Company have very similar values and strategies. Moreover: “Both have strong brands and many years of experience within development and production of high-quality GSE equipment,” Læssøe notes.
“Both companies have invested heavily in new technology training and green development to be able to supply our customers with sustainable GSE equipment and solutions,” she continues. “We believe that the synergy and exchange of experience will benefit both companies as well as our customers.”
Vestergaard is perhaps best known for its aircraft de-icing products, although it also offers high-end toilet service vehicles, water service vehicles and aircraft washing systems. Kalmar offers a wide range of both conventional and towbarless tractors and is well known for its focus on green electric and hybrid power products.
As a result, then, “The Vestergaard and Kalmar teams will work together to be able to offer our mutual customers a wider portfolio of state-of-the-art GSE products,” says Læssøe. “We believe that it will benefit our customers to have easier access to information on a wider product range. From the customer side, it is often the same people/departments who both use and are responsible for the purchase of several GSE products, so the Kalmar Motor product line will complement the Vestergaard products when offering high-class, sustainable GSE to our customers.”
While there will be synergies to be gained from coming together, the strengths of both companies will also continue to live on. “It is important to state that Kalmar Motor continues to exist – both as a company and as a brand,” says Læssøe.
“Kalmar Motor employees will stay on, and production and development will continue to take place in Kalmar, Sweden. Plus, as already mentioned, we see advantages to be gained in co-operation between the development and sales teams.”
Læssøe offers more detail on the announcement that there will be further investment in Kalmar. “Kalmar Motor moved to new and larger production facilities prior to celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019,” she informs. “Currently, an additional production facility is being added to the premises to further increase production capacity in Kalmar.”
As for the possibility of further acquisitions: “Vestergaard Company has no plans for further acquisitions at this stage, but of course if the right match and the right business case emerge, then we will look at that as every other business would do.”
Demonstrating the latest innovations
Vestergaard showed off various improvements it had made to two of its products in particular at the recent GSE Expo Europe held at Le Bourget in Paris in September.
Says Lars Barsøe, Vestergaard’s vice president sales & marketing: “Our focus at the GSE Expo Europe 2022 was to showcase our newest products and developments within sustainable GSE. We brought to the show our e-Mini MY Lite [de-icer], e-BETA [de-icer] and our new electrical VTS [Vacuum Toilet Service] unit.
“The e-BETA is the world’s first electrically operated de-icer, now sold to and operating in six airports worldwide, while the e-Mini MY Lite is the first fully electrical de-icer in the market – and of which the first couple of units have already been sold,” Barsøe says.
Plus: “We have further developed our e-VTS which has really taken hold in the market over the last few years. The new model has several improvements and has an interesting price level.”
There were plenty of visitors to the stand taking a look at these units. “We definitely feel that the market is looking towards sustainable GSE solutions and we saw a lot of interest for our electric product range,” Barsøe recalls, adding: “There are lots of follow-ups to be done after the show.”
The interest is perhaps indicative of a recovery in the GSE market post-Covid. “We do see that the market is picking up,” Barsøe confirms. “The Covid-19 pandemic fostered uncertainty in the market, and naturally companies deferred from making any investments.
“Now that the sector has picked up again and in some markets is close to pre-Covid-19 levels, the needs are there and investments are flowing again. Furthermore, in many markets the crisis has been used to make a change to more environmentally friendly solutions, and that will benefit us in the years to come.”
But he does offer a cautionary note: “The world is, however, still uncertain with war in Europe, supply chain issues, and fast-rising inflation which again may put a damper on people’s demand for flying.”