|In my lifetime, I can think of only one company that stands out in the world of used printing and finishing equipment. I’m not writing about England’s Milthorp, although in a way Milthorp played a role in what would become EGS or Euro Graphic Services, B.V. This past June, EGS finally succumbed and the last vestiges were auctioned off. EGS slipped silently into the night without a sound. When I heard the news I was really taken aback because of all the companies I came into contact with, EGS was THE ONE, and a real trailblazer.
Back in 1976, from a small office in the centre of 's-Hertogenbosch, Piet Kool and Henk van der Schoot, formed a company that would come to dominate virtually every major sector in used graphics arts machinery. Die-cutting and folder gluers, web, sheet-fed and bindery were part of the everyday activities of EGS.
I first visited them in the summer of 1981 and was awestruck at the magnificence of the operation. Harry Malant and Abe Kooyker, handling sheetfed and bindery respectively, were intelligent and well versed in sourcing and supplying machines. The technicians, who were there from the outset, had incredible skills in both rebuild and overhaul. It was special to take the train from Amsterdam and spend the day just being amazed at the amount of engineering and machines EGS had.
During a Drupa and before used equipment dealers were allowed to have a stand, EGS came up with a novel circumvention: enter the fair as a packing company that makes shipping crates. Anyone who visited would have noticed an overhauled Roland press inside a big wooden box! Problem solved. Yes, EGS even made their own wooden pallets and shipping crates in-house.
The EGS business expanded heavily during the 80’s and under Frank van Dijk’s management the EGS Web business (in a new factory in Schijndel) took flight. Big Flower Holdings (Treasure Chest) partnered with EGS to form EGS Americas Inc., and in 1988, opened a rebuilding facility in Arlington, Texas specifically for web machines.
By 1992, the Dutch business hit a wall. Rapid expansion had played its card and the business as beautiful as it was, fell into the Bank’s hands. Abe Kooyker, who had already started a new business, Quattro, purchased EGS, reduced the size and eventually relocated from the classic former meat packing factory on Parallelweg 147 to a new smaller site nearby.
Abe is somewhat the a-typical Dutchman. He is a fountain of bindery knowledge that when Abe got to talking, he could suck the oxygen out of a room. Sometimes a little abrasive, he definitely possessed above average abilities to take any book machine discipline and rejuvenate it. We had our moments together, Abe always won out.
Of all the companies I ever visited and dealt with, EGS was truly most impressive. The Dutch with their penchant for business and deal making are an amazing people. EGS did virtually everything at one point. They designed the first high pressure solvent cleaning system, while handling everything from the GTO to a Roland 807, Bobst, Wupa and carton gluers. With web, it was total rebuilds of presses such as Harris M-1000, Rotomans, Lithomans, coldset, newspaper and turnkey installations. It was said more than once that EGS was the largest parts purchaser of Müller-Martini and I would believe that based on what I saw going on there.
Sadly, Henk van der Schoot passed away earlier this year but the post-EGS business he started lives on. I doubt we will ever see a company like EGS again. I’m a little sad about that. EGS will forever be in my mind, at least be perceived as the very best used machinery company ever! Henk and Piet. . . take a bow!