A perfect balance between two worlds
During office hours, Hindrik Engström is a developer within Seco Tools’ research and development department. But in his spare time, the 38-year-old cuts down trees, builds roads and maintains old buildings. He feels he truly has the best of both worlds.
The road to Dullbo farm, some 30 kilometres northwest of Seco’s headquarters in Fagersta, Sweden, winds its way through a white, fairytale landscape. Snow weighs down the young deciduous trees, bending them into graceful arcs across the road. Even the dark fir trees have white drifts on their branches. But then, the forest opens up and the farm comes into view. It’s situated high up, overlooking an ice-covered lake and a forest-covered hill.
Hindrik Engström is dressed appropriately for the outdoors, from the cap on his head to the snow gaiters on his legs and the heavy boots on his feet. He has come straight from the forest where he has been working on his harvester. We enter his house, which dates from 1808, and settle down in the large kitchen. Ekko, an elkhound, stretches out on the floor as steam rises from the teacups.
“The farm has been in the family since the sixteenth century,” Engström explains. “There’s even a preserved deed of endowment from [the founder of modern Sweden] King Gustav Vasa. It’s dated 20 April 1552 and it states that Peder Jonsson in Tullebo is entitled ’to cultivate and use’ the land on condition that he pays taxes to the Crown. It was the King’s ploy to satisfy loyal subjects and secure income for the state.”
Forest farmer in his spare time
Tullebo became Dullbo and, nowadays, it’s Peder Jonsson’s descendant Hindrik Engström who cultivates and uses the land. Essentially, this means that he’s a forest farmer in his spare time. Overall, there are 540 hectares divided into three sections, with Engström himself handling a good deal of the work.
“I have a lot of fun and get a lot of stimulation from my job as a developer and project manager, and that includes lots of interaction with people from various countries. But, at the same time, it’s extremely pleasant to return to the peace and quiet here at home in the forest after a working day. And to work on managing and improving my ancestral farm.”
During his childhood, the forest was Engström’s main interest, and he studied at the agricultural college with the intention of becoming a forest ranger or forester. But after military service, he wasn’t so keen on studying, and he drove a harvester for three years.
“But that’s a lonely job with very little social interaction,” he says. “So I moved to Gothenburg, undertook supplementary study, and was accepted by Chalmers University where I studied mechanical engineering. Eventually, I got a job at Seco Tools’ R&D department where, in my role as a project manager, I monitor products from concept to realisation and constantly deal with people. It’s very stimulating and enjoyable.”
Develops Seco´s Duratomic product grades
Engström is part of the team that developed many of Seco’s Duratomic product grades. This task is primarily focused on turning grades, but he has also had a lot to do with the development of milling grades.
“Now that I work so much with farm machinery, I have some understanding of the demands made on many of the parts produced using our inserts,” he says. “Unfortunately, there are no Seco Tools products in my forest machinery. But I’m sure that Seco’s inserts have been used somewhere in the manufacture of the equipment.”
However, forestry is not Engström’s only pursuit away from his job. Dullbo farm comprises no fewer than 28 buildings. These range from a nineteenth century log cabin, which served as accommodation for labourers and maids, to a modern machine hall, decked out in shiny silver-toned metal. The need for maintenance is constant.
“Looking ahead, I plan to paint the hall red so that it blends in better,” Engström says. “Otherwise, the barn is this year’s project, which involves repairing the roof. And then there’s always facades that need painting and windows that need new putty.”
Because he spends a lot of time in the forest, Engström has had some very exciting experiences there. What made the biggest impression was his encounter with a pair of wolves.
“Suddenly, they were just ten metres away from me,” he says. “The female was completely silver-white and the male was black with a brown mark on his forehead. These powerful and cunning animals looked confidently at me and then walked around me in a semi-circle, before continuing away determinedly. That was a really memorable experience.”
By Karin Strand Photos by Jonas Gauffin
Background: Agricultural college, studies in mechanical engineering at Chalmers University, degree-related work at Outokumpu in Avesta, Sweden. He is a grade developer and project manager at Seco Tools’ R&D department in Fagersta, Sweden.
Hobbies: Moose hunting, downhill skiing, spending time with his family.