A Swedish man is teaching Sweden that Finland’s cause is theirs. When automation giant ARNON established itself in Sweden, Jörgen Hedström was recruited to the position of Sales Director and he knows that presence is a must in order to achieve success.
– ARNON is not just on a temporary visit to Sweden; we are here to become leaders, he says.
Jörgen has a solid background in sales, exports & internationalization. He has worked in various roles in markets all over the world. Both possible and next to impossible.
– I think it’s in my nature to not shy away from a challenge. Not so long ago and in a completely different context, I created a sales branch in Erbil, which is located in the Kurdish part of Iraq. You could say that it was a challenge, says Jörgen with a broad smile.
He emphasizes the importance of presence and that business is local. That is, a company must be close to its partners in order to maintain functioning daily contact. It does not matter that Sweden and Finland are separated only by a small sea and a border strip. The difference in business culture can sometimes feel like an ocean – despite the fact that we are neighboring countries with a great deal in common.
– I have had the privilege and advantage of working with the Finns since 1989. Management, organizational structure, creation of business relationships and, above all, communication are the main differences. Their corners are square; ours are round. We Swedes often have a flatter organization, whereas they are more hierarchical to and accommodating of the leader who, in my eyes, is often still more a boss than a leader.
How does ARNON highlight its Finnish roots?
– “That is precisely what sets us apart from many other Finnish companies; ARNON has an international character where the best of several worlds, including Sweden, have been united. The owners and board members have a very open world view. What is particularly Finnish is that you really fight, you want to do the right thing and you keep your promises if it’s the last thing you do, without even thinking about giving up. It’s a priceless strength that I admire.”
Jörgen also highlights ARNON’s founder and CEO, Harri Lamminen, as a person with a broad-minded vision and dexterity:
– Harri has qualities that few other people and leaders have. Above all, he has made scalability and the company’s internationalization possible. As a founder, it is otherwise very easy to become satisfied and safeguard what you’ve already got, but Harri will never want to stop developing. This makes it easy to get the whole team onboard.
ARNON was founded in 1978 and is now the biggest OEM in the Nordic region for industrial electrical and automation solutions. The firm booked revenues of SEK 540 million in 2019, and it is forecasting positive figures for 2020 with turnover expected to be approximately SEK 650 million. The company’s head office is in Tampere, while it has branches in Turku, Vaasa and Kauhava, as well as its own factory in Poland. Before its establishment in Sweden, the Finnish giant was already in business, through its partnerships with ABB, Climeon, Valmet and Metso Outotec, among others. If you’ve bought your own Swedish-made suit, your aim is clearly to expand further in the country. ARNON definitely sees itself as much more than just a straightforward electrical and automation firm.
– That’s definitely the case. We have the luxury and freedom to choose our customers and partners with care. In doing so, we create success and development together. It always starts and ends with the customer. Call it a sustainable long-term perspective, because that’s exactly what we’re looking for,” says Harri Lamminen.
ARNON announced the takeover of B.O Park and the opening of the Swedish branch outside Stockholm amid the beginnings of the Coronavirus pandemic. Full-page ads on April 1st trumpeted the statement “We believe in Sweden”.
– Sure, there were times when I had to ask myself whether the timing was right, but I kept coming back to an answer that I am even more confident about today. We were quite right to carry out that plan for the simple reason that we could and wanted to, says Hedström.
His primary tasks in 2021 are to make the Swedish office a sought-after workplace and to grow ARNON AB. Massively. Turnover will triple and the number of employees will double. In the long term, the goal is to be larger than the Finnish headquarters is today.
– In the future, ARNON will operate in many countries, with each office working according to each country’s conditions and culture, although there is always security and structure to be gained from the parent company. Sweden is one of the first steps and an important one. This is where our international journey accelerates, concludes Jörgen Hedström.