Looking after guests, who tend to return home with a smile on their lips, in welcoming settings sounds quite a fun thing to do, doesn’t it? Mikael Äng has it as his job!
“The fact that we spend a lot of time in the forest, a place I’ve loved since I was a child, is no bad thing either,” says Mikael who has been working as Iggesund Paperboard’s guide for customer visits for a year now.
A large number of customers visit Iggesund every year, where they get to experience a complete package of demonstrations, guided tours and activities and accommodation and food too. Building relationships in this way is a deliberate strategy with a long tradition behind it. Visits to the beautiful countryside of Hälsingland, a destination that many customers find exotic, are much appreciated and often create life-long memories. Customers from companies in France, Switzerland, Germany and Italy are the most common visitors.
All visits are tailored to the customers’profile and preferences to varying degrees but the ‘basic package’ always involves guests seeing the seeds in the nursery, the forest, paperboard manufacture and the packaging and printed materials that the paperboard is used for.
“Sitting in a working harvester is an experience that’s out of the ordinary and it’s something people keep talking about all the way through their visit,” says Mikael, who can easily identify with that feeling, as he has been a forest ranger and was previously employed at Holmen Skog.
Visits often include additional outdoor experiences, ideally fun ones. It might be canoeing or riding an Icelandic horse. Another popular activity is fishing in Lake Storsjön (which is owned by Holmen). The lake contains grayling, salmon trout and brook trout. The day is usually rounded off with a social event, dinner and a night in the beautiful and peaceful rural setting of Hedvigsfors manor, owned by Iggesund Paperboard. Anyone concerned about over-felling just has to step out onto the veranda to see forests that the Group manages sustainably.
On the second day visitors learn more about the history of Iggesund Paperboard and the strategy for the future, and the way that the company stands out from other paperboard manufacturers, particularly on sustainability.This is followed by a guided tour of most of the factory’s processes. Guests get to listen to representatives from different parts of the company. Marketing, sales, production and development all take a turn at being hosts.
The second and final evening is spent at the eighteenth-century farm Grillska gården. This too is owned by Iggesund Paperboard. Unlike Hedvigsfors, the interior design of Grillska gården gives a sense of an upper class environment, as the previous owners, the Grill family, had Italian roots. The different settings make the two days different in their content and their atmosphere.
When it is time to travel home again, visitors leave with happy memories as well as new information and the trip has made a major impression. The way guests are treated over these two days, far removed from anonymous hotel rooms, is an important element in the positive end result. The meals, whether eaten sitting on a tree trunk in the forest or in an eighteenth-century style dining room, deliberately use local ingredients and everything is cooked on the spot.
“The forest and being in the great outdoors, as well as the nursery, are the things that tend to fascinate guests most. I’m convinced that these visits mean customers forge a stronger connection with Iggesund Paperboard and Holmen” says Mikael Äng. The main reason for leaving his job as a forest ranger in Holmen Skog’s Delsbo district was to learn more about Holmen as a company. “I really have got the chance to do that now, as I work with different business areas in the Group almost every day. My job also gives me the chance to meet many people from different cultures.”
About the workplace
Iggesund Paperboard’s visits department Part of the market communications department and has a staff of 14, including drivers, chefs and other service personnel at Grillska gården and Hedvigsfors, as well as administrative support. The department is also responsible for school visits.
TEXT: PETER STRÖM PHOTO: PER TRANÈ