Fourth generation takes over at all-time STARCO customer

Sep 20, 2019 | Light Transportation

Ever since 1962, STARCO has delivered wheels and tyres to Swedish company Håkansson, which manufactures wheelbarrows, sack trucks and other equipment and machinery. Now, the family-run company is working on a generational handover to the fourth Håkansson generation – and a handover to robots in the production.

In what was the living room back in 1898, when family company Håkansson was just a tiny blacksmith’s business, the third and fourth generation of Sweden’s oldest wheelbarrow factory welcome us for a talk about friendly favours, reliable robots and generational handovers.

“This is the fourth generation,” says owner Bengt Göran Håkansson when he introduces his daughter Lina and son Per Johan with a big smile. A change in generations is well underway.

AB PJ Håkanssons Mekaniska Verkstad, colloquially called ‘Håkansson’, was established in 1898. Back then, the blacksmith company specialised in equipment for the agricultural industry. Today, the family-run company produces a wide spectrum of equipment and applications, such as wheelbarrows, sack trucks, luggage carriers and snow equipment. Håkansson is one of two major wheelbarrow manufacturers in Sweden. The other one will celebrate its 100-year anniversary next year.

The factory is a fascinating mix of the original stable floor and modern robots. The staff are friendly and the owners are proud: “Even though we have far fewer people in the factory today due to automation, we have managed to scale down our workforce through normal retirement,” states Mr. Håkansson. “We are much faster and much more flexible with the robots.”

The factory was expanded in the 1960-70s as well as in 1998 and 2000; and since 2002 the company has invested significantly in new and advanced machinery and automation equipment.

“The relationship with STARCO has always been very special. People come and go. Business goes up and down, and of course we have faced issues; but we simply speak the same language – and we fix things together,” says Håkansson.

A helping hand

Håkansson’s customers include major wholesalers; however the factory also supplies one of Northern Europe’s market leaders within garden and kitchen equipment, Fiskars Norge – a business relationship that was facilitated by the former STARCO owner, Poul Ejlersgaard:
“Poul came and saw us directly from a visit to Fiskars. Fiskars had some capacity constraints in a newly acquired wheelbarrow factory, and Poul knew we had over-capacity in our steel-bending machinery – so he introduced us,” explains Håkansson. “This was the beginning of a business relationship that grew, and today they are among our biggest customers.”

This was in the 1990s, where the market activity was generally low. “We have been through ups and downs. 1992 was particularly tough on us – and STARCO knew that,” says Håkansson.

One day, the STARCO owner called and said: “We will deliver the wheels and tyres you need, but you’re welcome to delay the payment”. Mrs. Håkansson, who runs the administration, bursts out: “We will never ever forget that!”.

Today, all buildings and equipment are paid, making investment processes different. “Nowadays, we make investment decisions fast and autonomously when we need new machinery,” states Håkansson. His son, Per Johan, consents with a nod. No doubt Per Johan’s passion for robots is distinct and marks a change in generation.

“We speak the same language”

Mr. Håkansson found a STARCO invoice for wheels and tyres from 1967. Today prices are different, but still a focus area for both parties:

“We know we are competing with cheaper, low-quality Chinese wheels and tyres, but we and our customers are also aware that our solutions are better; and a safer choice when it comes to quality control, durability and compliance with European law,” states Charly Fontanella, responsible for STARCO’s Light Transportation Segment.

STARCO delivers wheels and tyres for most of Håkansson’s products. The legendary Trönninge Kärran, a professional wheelbarrow with wooden handles, is mounted on steel wheels from STARCO’s ISO-certified Croatian factory, and the manufacturer sees clear benefits in the puncture-proof STARCO Flex Lite. This is because “there will always be some loss of air in the pneumatic tyres,” states Bengt Göran.

Short-term, the manufacturer is preparing for the winter sale – where the company knows it needs to manage an uncertainty of 20-25% due to the weather. Long-term, Håkansson expects many more years of good collaboration with STARCO.

“The relationship with STARCO has always been very special. People come and go. Business goes up and down, and of course we have faced issues; but we simply speak the same language – and we fix things together,” says Håkansson.

About AB P J Håkanssons Mekaniska Verkstad

AB PJ Håkanssons Mekaniska Verkstad was established in 1898. Back then, the blacksmithing company specialised in equipment for the agricultural industry. Today, the family-run company produces various equipment and applications, such as wheelbarrows, sack trucks, luggage carriers and snow equipment.

Media contact

Media contact

Brian Lorentzen

Strategic Marketing Director
+45 51341399
brian.lorentzen@starco.com

Sales contact

Sales contact

Charly Fontanella

Key Account Manager, Light Transportation 
+49 151 50 900 416
charly.fontanella@starco.com

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