Small town heroes
Swedish industrial subcontracting company Fårbo Mekaniska has increased its turnover from four million Swedish crowns in 2005 to 50 million today, while its total number of employees has grown from four to 34. With that kind of momentum behind it, almost nothing seems impossible for this company from Fagersta in central Sweden.
Fårbo Mekaniska is located in an industrial precinct directly south of the Swedish town Fagersta. It sits on a plot of land almost immediately next door to Seco Tools, with whom the company has enjoyed a long history of cooperation. Fårbo Mekaniska produces items including spare parts for the rolling mill industry, products for the mining industry, tools for the engineering industry and parts for the shipping sector. In addition to Seco Tools, the company’s largest customers include other globally active Swedish companies such as Sandvik, Atlas Copco and ABB.
“About half of what we produce are recurring items, with the rest totally new products where we adapt each product according to the customer’s wishes,” says Roger Berggren, CEO and owner of Fårbo Mekaniska.
Berggren began working for Fårbo Mekaniska in 1988, straight after finishing two years of mechanical engineering training at secondary school. He took over the company in 2005. Since then, things have only gone up and up, and in 2013 the company received a prestigious award from Dagens Industri, one of Sweden’s leading business newspapers. In 2014, Berggren was singled out as one of five finalists in the annual Confederation of Swedish Enterprise competition to find the nation’s most enterprising person.
Roger Berggren’s path to success
Berggren believes a large part of the company’s success stems from his own background.
“I believe in what I’m doing and I also understand the operation,” he says. “I’ve stood working at the majority of the machines we have here, and if someone comes in and shows me a design, I can tell if we can make the product.”
Berggren continues, “I’m also a very competitive person. I have a sports background and was part of a floorball team that won the Swedish national championships. I’m passionate about challenges and finding the best solution for every customer. I’m also a team player who, with my colleagues, wants to work towards just that solution.”
Berggren’s proactive approach has resulted in the company becoming one of the larger companies in Fagersta, sitting behind giants such as Seco Tools, Atlas Copco, the local hospital, Bergslagssjukhuset, and the local municipal council. He sees two major challenges in running the business.
“One is attracting the right people,” he says. “We have many clever operators, but I’m always looking for people who like to tinker and fix things. This job demands creativity.”
Berggren continues, “The other challenge is delivery times. Customers don’t want to hold onto inventory and lead times are becoming increasingly shorter, often only two or three weeks. That means that we need to work around the clock and be flexible. We hired a production planner a year ago whose job it is to improve our delivery reliability and we’re becoming steadily better.”
Berggren believes the future will continue to be bright. Fårbo Mekaniska is busy expanding its premises and has recently invested in three new machines. The company now has at its disposal a large array of machinery, including various lathes, milling machines and machining centres. All are equipped with inserts from Seco Tools.
“The machines are the backbone of the company,” says Berggren. “With the short delivery times that we have, the machines mustn’t get too old. They have to run around the clock.”
By Karin Strand Photos by Jonas Gauffin
Fårbo Mekaniska was established in 1988 and taken over by Roger Berggren in 2005. The company’s turn-over was 52 million Swedish crowns in 2014 when the number of employees was 34.
The company is an industrial subcontractor that produces everything from the simplest parts through to advanced precision engineering, both in large production runs and on a one-off basis. Its customers include Atlas Copco Secoroc, Seco Tools, Sandvik, Outokumpu, Metso Minerals, Morgårdshammar, ABB and Ruukki.
One of the products Fårbo Mekaniska produces for Seco Tools is the Secopoint Smartdrawer tool-dispensing machine. Looking a little like a filing cabinet with a computer on top, it can be most simply described as a cross between a warehouse, store room and ordering point.
Users type their unique code into the computer along with the name of the tool they want to access and can then easily find their way through the draws to locate the desired tool or insert. The tool dispenser can also be used for the storage of calibrated instruments, portable computers, and other items of equipment to be reused.
Smartdrawer registers withdrawals and sends an order to the relevant subcontractor before the drawer becomes completely empty, meaning no machines need stand still due to a shortage of a tool or insert.
“Of course we also use Smartdrawer ourselves,” says Fårbo Mekaniska’s Roger Berggren. “The dispenser has saved us lots of money, as we always have the insert needed. The consumption of materials has also fallen as everyone just picks out what they need.”
Fårbo Mekaniska both produces and services Secopoint Smartdrawer. Over 100 of the tool dispensers are produced each year.