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Waste management

Optimising a leading waste company’s strategic sale.

Everyone generates it, and everywhere needs it taken care of. The waste management industry is an unassuming giant. A top provider in the Netherlands was ready to sell, setting in motion a process attracting international industry heavyweights.

Michiel Vos, strategy consultant at The Strategy Office, was brought in by the company’s CEO and CFO to shape its growth portfolio and, ultimately, to optimise its entry into the bidding process.


With some 800 employees and annual revenues of over €300 million, this waste management company is one of the largest in the Netherlands. Waste from municipalities and collection companies is directed to its organic processing facilities, including digesters and composters, energy-from-waste plants and — if no alternative — landfill sites. The current owners, an international consortium of private equity funds, were ready to sell. Ideally, to an even larger infrastructure fund and, naturally, with an attractive return.

As soon as the sale decision was taken, the firm made creating an attractive growth portfolio a priority. There were plenty of solid ideas circulating, but the company’s lean and mean structure meant they had no one looking at strategic investment or business development projects. That needed to change, fast.


Over the first 3 months, Michiel shaped the firm’s project management office for strategic growth. He introduced a structured reporting process to vacuum up strong existing ideas, ensure their potential was properly utilised, and accelerate progress.

The ~40 strategic initiatives developed included:

  • Building on an ongoing post-separation line project, to extract recyclable waste before incineration. The new-and-improved line would handle more waste and improve separation quality. The project’s strategic consequences were mapped: higher recycling rates and higher scores in municipality tender processes, as they increasingly value providers’ circularity.

  • Delivering plastic waste to chemical companies, as feedstock for the plastic waste chemical recycling processes in which many are investing billions. Rather than incinerating plastic waste, or shredding and melting it for reuse, chemical recycling creates good-as-new virgin plastic.

  • Expanding the company’s organics business (composting, digesting), both within the Netherlands and in surrounding countries such as Belgium and Germany.

Scaling up for sale

After 3 months, Michiel scaled up the project as the sales process went live. He brought in 2 colleagues from Sweav, another independent consultant network that The Strategy Office works with on occasion.

One headed up the project management office Michiel had built. The other assisted with trading updates and financial due diligence. Both with 15 years of experience, they were a tad more junior than Michiel himself. 2 employees from the client side made up an internal selling team of 5, with Michiel stepping into the project manager role.

Making the client’s life easier

Michiel’s experience in sales and acquisitions, and also the waste industry, saved the client myriad headaches. He knows the nuts and bolts of the sales process, and how every party in the chain thinks, allowing his team to avoid potential crises with pre-emptive action.

The combination of Michiel’s technical degree and consultancy expertise was also key. Credible to both parties, he was ideally positioned to overcome the language barrier between the client’s technical project managers and investment banks.

He spoke with the technical brains developing the client’s proof of concepts for strategic growth. Then, he translated them into business cases international investors would understand (including all the large players you’d expect from a transaction primed for serious sums). Out with 60-page dossiers filled with technical diagrams that would take 9 months to make, and in with quickfire Excels investment banks can work with.

Michiel’s team also took care of legal and technical work, applying The Strategy Office’s hands-on, no-nonsense ethos. This minimised the client CEO’s workload, bringing him in only at key moments.


A go-to resource to optimise bidding entry

Selecting the key strategic growth projects from the wide range developed, Michiel’s team created a virtual data room to house a succinct deck on each of them. Actionable and time-saving, these decks became the go-to resource for all parties involved.

Spanning roughly 15 slides — rather than the 100s certain renowned consultancies have a reputation for churning out — they follow a standardised format, designed to lighten workloads and accelerate strong decisions:

  • Strategic rationale

  • Project definition

  • High-level planning

  • Business case

  • Key risk factors

  • etc.

Making the swathes of strategic information accessible and actionable generated considerable work for Michiel and his team, which, naturally, they knuckled down with. All to get the crucial information in front of the client, faster and better. This put the company in the strongest possible position to open bidding on their sale.

Bidding begins

At the time of writing, non-binding bids are in. Now, the path ahead depends entirely on the offers made.

Entering negotiation mode with a potential buyer will come next, with Michiel’s team scaling back to suit. This ensures the expertise and support the client needs both stay on hand, without piling on unnecessary resources just to hike up the bill.

At The Strategy Office, that’s not our style. We do (better) what the big players do, with compact teams. And what you’re pitched is what you get: you’ll meet who’s working with you from the off, and they’ll be hands-on throughout. Our size and the agility it enables are key strengths of how we work — optimising major business processes for leading firms included.

Kies taal: NL EN