Saint-Rémy-de-Provence & Buzançais skyline

Before 2006, there were three major players on the LPG market: the Danish Kosan Crisplant and the two French companies Siraga and PAM. Today, all three of these players have joined forces, and the formerly competing French companies now work to achieve new heights together. That is the short version of the history of MAKEEN Energy France (MEFR). But the story of the union between KC France and Siraga is deserving of a much longer explanation. We sat down with Joseph Brun, Managing Director, to discuss the past, present, and future of our branch in France.

Crises and competition

Siraga and PAM (the former legal name of KC France) have a history of 'almost-unions' that goes back 30 years. Since the late 1980's, both companies experienced periods of financial difficulties that led to talks about being acquired by the other.

"Siraga had a time in the 80's where they struggled to make ends meet, which led us, PAM, to suggest an acquisition," Joseph says.  "The idea was that we could combine our strength and become a bigger force in the market. But nothing ever came of it, and we continued to compete as always - primarily on prices."

Then, as the end of the millennium approached, it was PAM's turn to feel the pain after years of too high global salaries, too many expenses, and a dwindling number of contracts.

"Things looked so dire that in 1999 our owners were ready to close PAM down. But the management decided to fight this fate, and we, management and most of the employees, pooled our resources to acquire PAM back and restart it from scratch."

The acquisition was a success, but without the support of big players, PAM was in a precarious position. Therefore, PAM negotiated with Siraga in 2002 and 2003 to join their companies and unite against the common competitor at the time, Kosan Crisplant. Again, however, no agreement was reached, and in January 2006, PAM was instead acquired by Kosan Crisplant to become KC France. 

Together at last

Six years later, Siraga also changed ownership. This time, the new owners were the Saudi Arabian Al-Ayuni Investment & Contracting Co. And in a peculiar twist of fate, Kosan Crisplant was put on the market by its owners, Seera Investment Bank from Bahrain, in 2014. Al-Ayuni seized the opportunity to bring Kosan Crisplant under its wings as well and achieve a rock solid position on the global market for LPG solutions.

"Suddenly, after decades of competition, we had to adjust to working together, sharing knowledge, and striving for mutual success. Naturally, it took some time to adjust to this. Now, things are going well - we have a full backlog, the workshop is busy, and Siraga has a good order intake. That alone has helped to put a lot of minds at ease."

Strengthening the bond

In order to make everyone feel like part of a group instead of autonomous companies, it was decided to create groups of competences across the offices.

"In the same group, we can have people from Denmark, Portugal, Saint-Rémy, and Buzançais, working together, even though they belong to different entities. We call it operational localisation. To me, this is very important," Joseph states.

It's not all business, however. For the cooperation to work, everyone knew that it was important to get to know each other outside of the office in a more relaxed setting.

"We try to do as much as possible to get to know each other across offices. For example, we celebrate events like Christmas together, and people from Buzançais come to Saint-Rémy - or vice versa. We do product training, project training, and sales training together to make sure that we all understand our procedures. And besides that, there is a constant flow of people between our offices, so we see each other often."

"Since January 2018, we have been one single company - MAKEEN Energy France. We have consolidated the activities of PAM and Siraga into one entity with two establishments in Saint-Rémy and Buzançais. What this means in practical terms is that we work in a cloud organization where salespeople in one location work closely with salespeople in the other."

"Siraga still makes Siraga products, KC still makes KC products, but we work together on the commercial side. It doesn't matter to us if we sell one or the other - our focus is on selling more, selling what is right for the customer, and achieving the best profit margin. This has already become ingrained in our mentality. As evidence, we have contracts where the client receives a mix of machines in their line. They can say 'I prefer the Siraga palletiser, but the carrousel should be KC', and so on. We can provide the best of two worlds." 

Primed for the future

The next challenge for MEFR may seem contradictory at first. After merging the two companies into one, they will now split into two again. From 1 October 2018, the new MAKEEN Energy Technology Center (METC) has been located in the office in Buzançais. METC is planned to be in charge of MAKEEN Energy's supply chain: design, procurement, and manufacturing.

"We already have manufacturing in Sri Lanka, but we have an order backlog that leaves enough work for both production centres, and then METC will manufacture mostly Siraga equipment," Joseph says. "The Saint-Rémy office manages sales and execution of projects. The two entities are not completely separate, however, since we still cooperate on our operational organisation across offices."

"We have big plans for the future - we want to increase our order intake with a high profit margin and exceptionally reliable products. We are confident that having a dedicated base like METC will help to improve our quality, be more efficient, and suffer fewer delays. All of this results in more satisfaction to our customers, which is the key to our success."

collage of images from MAKEEN ENergy France offices