Wood-Mizer Nordik's combined Norway-Sweden sales this year are predicted to reach 131 sawmills, down just 19% from an atypical, record 2008 (a barn-storming year for the company in all European, African and Indian countries).
The figure is better than it looks compared with the general european decline last year made worse by a further -2.5% slump in the euro area's first 2009 quartile (-2.4% in the EU27).
The combined Swedish/Norwegian gdp decline was -1.6% (+0.7% in Sweden, -2.3% in Norway), quite modest compared with many around Europe. Anyhow, Norway has reserves such as the Government Pension Fund-Global from which it can draw. Wood-Mizer indirectly benefits from the fund, largely based on oil and gas revenues, since it secures jobs and safeguards the economy.
Indeed, 131 sales from a combined population of 13.75 makes it one of the top selling operations for Wood-Mizer per capita
around Europe. Although a big slice of sales comes from small LT15s, in terms of units it is the third best in the whole of Europe when measured against population!
How, has the relatively new joint operation done it?Wood-Mizer Nordic AS
was formed in 2003 out of two independent dealers in neighbouring countries. The Norwegian operation was almost defunct while Kjell Larsson's Swedish dealership indeed sold mills but not enough to warrant the back-up facilities which increasingly were required. As original owner-operator dealers expanded this was becoming a common need.
Then Odd Edvoll's longboat sailed on to the scene. He had been sales manager of the Norwegian subsidiary of the 1.37bn euro Hager Group
. This is a leading supplier of solutions and services for electro-technical installations in residential and commercial buildings as well as for industrial applications and Odd Edvoll brought a lot of commercial experience to Wood-Mizer as a result.
He admits it was a challenge. Sales were at zero in Norway and very low in Sweden.
Starting with Norway he created office back-up and the position of service technician before writing to the 800 neglected Wood-Mizer owners there. When the joint operation was formed he and Kjell Larssen did the same in Sweden.
In both countries, customer feed-back was actively sought and acted upon. A programme of one-to-one sales and after sales meetings was set in motion and Odd Edvoll explains:
"These visits are more fruitful than big forestry and timber fairs although we still, crucially 'keep the flag flying' at such shows like the big, biennial Elmia
"We attracted a lot of interest at Elmia
, encouraging the view that the economies represented at the event have stopped declining and that next year might see a slight increase over this year's relatively good Nordik sales", he concludes.
Most Nordik sales are of LT15 mills, followed by LT10s and LT20s. An LT20B was sold off the stand at Elmia.
"Don't underestimate us vikings", says Odd Edvoll with a cheery grin.