Ditt’s growth ambitions clearly mapped out after in-depth business analysis

“It is good for every entrepreneur to take a long hard look in the mirror”

Jan Brink did not have solid plans to sell the successful Ditt Officemakers. But he decided to join the Masterclass “10 steps towards a successful sale” anyway. Because he was curious, yes, and the topic interested him, but certainly also to see how his company is doing. “Well, of course, the company is doing very well, but there is always room for improvement”, says the driven entrepreneur, who, by the way, is still not considering selling.

This shows Ditt Officemakers’ endless ambition; the company has grown to become the largest independent company active in the design and realisation of office furnishing in the Netherlands. One entrepreneur’s down-to-earth attitude, combined with the other entrepreneur’s bravado, was one of the company’s success factors, says Jan Brink. “Actions speak louder than words, now that is typically Ditt. All our people have that same attitude and we also convey that to our customers. Short lines of communication and open communication among colleagues and to others outside the company is very important to us: being flexible, accessible and going the extra mile. However cliché that may sound, we actually notice that this distinguishes Ditt from other companies.”

Curious to know whether your business is ready for sale?


That distinguishing factor was entirely accidental. At an early stage, Jan and Mattijs realised that you need goals to take the company to the next level. “The real estate market found itself in quite a serious transition period at the time”, Jan remembers. “In 2008, I was approached to come work for De Vastgoedinrichter, which started as Interieurlease B.V. in 2001. In 2009, together with Mattijs Kaak as director/co-shareholder, we founded Property Upgrade in Amsterdam. In short: in 2012, those companies merged and we made our start as Ditt Officemakers four years later. Furnishing offices became our core business: Great Offices, Happy People.”

Less dependent on the individual

The shares have been redistributed several times in previous years. After a respected career in banking, Jan knew the tricks of the trade from the other side. “As business account manager and director of private banking at ABN AMRO, I talked to entrepreneurs about the value of a good revenue model and how to make the value of your company less dependent on the individual. This was all theoretical knowledge that helped me a lot in my years as an entrepreneur. That is why I care about a strong team and transparency so much, the way we have achieved it at Ditt.”

Now, in 2023, Jan and Mattijs make up the Ditt board of directors. “In close collaboration with an amazing management team”, Jan emphasizes. “They are in charge of the company’s day-to-day operations, while we make strategic decisions. And the entire company commits to it. That is our mentality as people and as a company, how great is that? Besides our financial goals, we focus on topics we then translate into annual plans with quarterly goals. We now focus on our chosen customer, does it match our company? Other topics are data-drivenness, pride and joy and smooth-running network environments and processes. Finally, we always strive to be better.”

A bird’s eye view

When Jan and Mattijs attended the Masterclass “10 steps towards a successful sale”, it soon became clear that there is always room for improvement. That is not surprising, says Jan. “It’s good to have a bird’s eye view – outside scrutiny will only help us get further. What I liked about the masterclass, was that it was led by former entrepreneurs. People that really know their stuff and project their experiences onto other entrepreneurs. We took a long hard look in the mirror and even though we don’t have solid plans to sell yet, there were several starting points to enter into the follow-up process with, and assess our company.”

An in-depth analysis of all aspects of the company followed, resulting in a tangible document with recommendations and possible scenarios for sale. “The great thing about this process is that we are even more certain about our international growth ambitions. In Germany, we are building Ditt GmbH from the ground up and in Belgium, we are planning to do the same. However, we also see opportunities to acquire existing companies. I won’t go as far as to call it a buy-and-build strategy buy-and-build strategy. But, yes, we will actively look for companies. More and more customers abroad approach us to furnish their offices. This is why we are Founding Partner of Studio Alliance; an international network with 14 design-and-build partners with which we can serve customers throughout Europe together.”

Synchronising individual interests

Parallel to their expansion into Germany and Belgium, there are a number of areas that can be optimised. “This is partly due to the different shareholders,” Jan explains. “All partners have their own interests, that is no secret. We had already drawn up agreements, but it is good to synchronise individual interests. What happens when a buyer announces itself tomorrow? One shareholder might seriously consider this, but another might not even think about it. We are glad that we have further clarified our agreements in this area.”

Stepping down in the short term is not an option, at least not for Jan. The down-to-earth entrepreneur is still having too much fun. “What I really appreciate is that, because of this comprehensive scan, I have gained insight into different exit options and the value of the company and have also identified points to improve on. For that reason alone, I would recommend every entrepreneur in my network to walk the same path. It has brought our company so much: confirmation that we’re on the right path, confirmation that there is always room for improvement and it has made us more aware of our own roles within Ditt. Moreover, it is a great opportunity to exchange experiences with fellow entrepreneurs.”

Want to know more?

Contact us now for more information.