Before the summer, Claes Ekström started at Tempcon Group in the newly established role as vehicle manager. With over 550 vehicles spread over soon fifteen subsidiaries, he does not suffer from employment problems, but what does a vehicle manager do on the days really. We will try to find out here.
Claes, you have been faithful to the transportation industry throughout your career. When did you start?
I started in 1987 as a mechanic at Udén’s åkeri in Värnamo. In 1990, I started driving a wood chip truck, which I did for ten years. In the meantime, Udéns had been acquired by Sandahlsbolagen and I started there as workshop manager in 2000. I made a small comeback as a driver between 2013-2015, but for the past twenty years the focus has been on vehicles more than driving.
What then does a vehicle manager at Sweden’s largest carrier of temperate products do?
A lot of time and focus is spent on budget work and on negotiating prices while I have to make sure that all subsidiaries have the same prices. For example, in terms of inspections, spare parts, tires, leases, insurance, service and the like. I will also be a sounding board for the local vehicle managers who are at some of the subsidiaries and help them with vehicle-related matters that have ended up a bit on the long bench. In a group-wide role like mine, I must also have a helicopter perspective and a holistic approach to the vehicle fleet that we have at our disposal. Do we have the right devices in the right place? Make sure we buy the right vehicle and so on. I also look at how we can better standardize our purchases and in that way also reduce our costs with, for example, clear specs so we get an even, good and standardized level while we must have flexibility for each unique assignment. To get it together, all purchases must go through me so I know what we have for vehicles and agreements out at the subsidiaries.
You’ve done a few months now in your new role. What challenges do you see in it?
Right now it’s a lot about me still having to learn the complex business we have and which has both similarities but also many differences between the subsidiaries. With such a large business, you always learn something new every day. The companies all have a unique character in the business, which is a huge strength for the Group as we can always offer the best solution for the customer. The biggest challenge I see in the long run is to get the whole together with agreements, vehicle optimization and so on. That everyone becomes part of Tempcon. To make everyone understand how we want it in the Group while at the same time protecting the identity in the subsidiaries.
Tempcon has chosen a structure where the subsidiaries’ brands live in parallel with the Group’s. What do you see as the benefits of such an arrangement?
That each subsidiary is its own organization that runs its business locally, I think is a real strength. In this way, each organization has its own management with a clear proximity to its organization and its activities. The decision paths become much faster and shorter. This means that the organization has the ear much closer to the rails and becomes more flexible.
Of course, a lot of time is spent at work, but what does Claes do in his spare time?
I’m a real hockey nerd and always have been. I’m the team leader in the boy’s J20 team, so that means commitment almost every day of the week. If it is not training, it is a match or planning. Then I try to get out as much as I can with the caravan if there is no project on the house to be fixed. It feels like an eternity job with a house, but I just think it’s fun.
Five fast with Claes:
A cold beer.
USA and then primarily Florida.