Skip to content

Creating the forest's new industries

Sawmills have become like magnets for wood-based industries. Eidskog Stangeskovene believes that budding through companies is the way to go in the future.

Company: Eidskog Stangeskovene

- Everything that can be made of oil can be made of wood. The danger is that the Kongsvinger region will only become a raw material supplier, because we lack competence or technology for some form of processing. Timber, wood chips and lumber all live their own lives in different markets, but all these products can create a varied network that can develop something new, says Per Morten Wangen, general manager of Eidskog Stangeskovene (ESAS).

By that he means that one should be creative based on companies that utilize the forest, such as sawmills, and use the products from existing companies to create new industries. Cooperation, alliances, networking and utilization of the advantages are the most important keywords for Wangen when it comes to establishing new jobs based on the already established ones.

- I believe in budding through existing companies. Traditional recruitments of industrial companies should take place in this way. One must look for possible collaborators and feel free to develop concepts. If we agree on this course, we will discover that more companies will establish themselves here with lower risk - even if such a direction obliges the players to follow up the words, says Wangen, and emphasizes that it is absolutely necessary that companies, municipalities and business players pulls together.

The ESAS chief knows what he's talking about. On the neighboring plot of the sawmill at Skotterud in Eidskog municipality, there have been several stakeholders due to the location next to the wood processing plant. Wangen hopes for new industries here too in the not too distant future.

Budding through companies is the way to go

Kjersti Wangen, who leads the work with moving business in Klosser Innovasjon, completely agrees with Per Morten Wangen that budding through companies is the way to go.

- We see it especially in relation to all the cases we work with in the wood industry. The sawmills have a raw material in the form of wood chips or planks that several of the companies want to use for further processing, says Kjersti Wangen, and adds:

- The opportunity for efficient logistics makes us an attractive region. In addition, we experience that the expertise the region has in wood and wood processing makes us relevant and interesting. In the last year alone, there have been five inquiries in the wood-based industry that we work with.

Here are attractive jobs

Recruitment of labor and skills over the next 5-10 years is another important joint effort for the region, which Per Morten Wangen has clear views on.

- We are in the middle of nowhere for wood utilization, with natural prerequisites for doing well. The recruitment of new industries is nevertheless dependent on the replenishment of new ideas. We need new heads who ask questions such as "why do we do that?". It is too easy to accept accepted truths, and then we will not move on. The future is about smart solutions and new ideas, says Wangen enthusiastically, and turns the conversation to competence recruitment.

- There are many attractive jobs in the Kongsvinger region, but we are struggling to recruit the skills needed in the future. We motivate our employees to further education, but see that it is difficult to get enough vocational students and labor for, for example, traditional automation. The counselors in the school also have an important role here, and the companies in the region must become better at making sure that the counselors have the necessary information about the opportunities that exist in our region, the general manager explains.

Affected by internationalization

Eidskog Stangeskovene currently has just under 50 employees, has almost no loans, and has invested tens of millions in, among other things, automated production and portfolio growth. With sharpened expertise in production and logistics, and the introduction of technology, staffing has declined somewhat in line with increased sales. According to Per Morten Wangen, one of the reasons for this is increased international competition.

- Climate and framework conditions hit us right in the face as a cornerstone company in the Kongsvinger region. Brexit, trade war and currency. The forest industry is strongly affected by currency and interest rates in the same way as in other industries. Economies of scale, money and the competitive situation challenge us, but I also believe that internationalization can be good for us. Especially when the forest industry's value chain is part of the solution for a better environment and climate across national borders.

- Our production has been significantly streamlined and automated in recent years, and this has challenged our employees who have been given a different everyday life. As an example, we currently have support and opportunities for operational monitoring from machine suppliers in other countries, and this must be combined with our good experience and competence of our employees. In today's market, we see that our way of running a sawmill is sustainable, and that makes us soberly optimistic about the future, explains Per Morten Wangen, and is clear that sustainability is more than just an important word for ESAS.

For Eidskog Stangeskovene, sustainability in everyday life means the least possible use of resources, running the timber as short as possible, and utilizing the renewable raw material in the best possible way in production.

- In addition, increased use of three reduces CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, which is an important environmental perspective to bring into the debate that is going on today, Wangen says.

Easier to create something here

The essence of what the ESAS leader is trying to bring out is that we need more jobs in the Kongsvinger region, and that the challenges we face can also be our strength. Together and by playing on each other's strengths, you become stronger, and creating ripple effects based on existing businesses is the way to go into the future.

- It is important that the region defines a strong common focus for development. If Kongsvinger is to have the leader jersey and develop as a natural hub in the region, they must dare to use the other municipalities around them and do the good ones. This is a prerequisite for ensuring good and rational business development across municipal boundaries.

- We should also cultivate more the fact that interaction makes it easier to influence and create something here than in larger places. That is really true, and also applies in the business world, says Wangen.

The ESAS Director believes that this can also have positive effects in citizen recruitment, and strongly believes that a commuter always lives in the wrong place over time:

- In the end, the negative traits trump by commuting out, and then we have to get to grips with the person before it is too late.