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Kjell Lilletjernbakken, Factory Manager Business Area Building Solutions & Components

Generating a winning corporate culture

Over the past two years, the Setra glulam factory in Långshyttan has been joined by two new, strategic factories
– one for wood components and one for CLT. In just a short space of time, the number of employees has almost doubled, from 60 to 110. Factory Manager Kjell Lilletjernbakken is in charge of the work to shape a rapidly developing production organisation that is to be characterised by participation and a “we” spirit.

The glulam factory enjoys a reputation as a high-performance organisation, with short decision-making paths and consistently high scores in employee surveys.

What have you done to transfer this culture to two new factories?

Early in the process, we recruited key staff from the glulam factory to work at the component factory. We then did the same thing with the CLT factory. In addition, many of our new employees started off by working six months or more at the glulam factory.

Our guiding principle is to create safe and secure workplaces where everyone is involved and can contribute his/her skills. Key aspects are neatness and tidiness, clear structures and roles, good communication and a good helping of responsibility and co-determination.

What was the main challenge?

Building up a new organisation in the middle of a construction site at the same time as commissioning and calibrating new machines is never easy. But generally speaking, everything ran smoothly. We have celebrated our mini-victories along the way and eaten a fair amount of cake. Maintaining an open working atmosphere is an ongoing assignment.

Against a background of safe conditions, there has to be space for innovation and problemsolving in an everyday context, at the same time as we have to take care to report all non-compliances. It is when we bring mistakes out into the light that we have the chance to improve.

You’ve spent your entire professional life in the wood industry in Långshyttan, holding several management positions. How would you characterise your leadership?

Långshyttan is an old factory site, and back then the steel industry featured a clear distinction between blue and white collar workers: “us” and “them”. I grew up in a worker’s home and I’m fully familiar with “mill mentality”.

A winning corporate culture looks very different today. It has to be founded on team spirit, involvement and the capacity to see the big picture and the end product of what we are doing.

Setra does not make planks and boards; rather, we make components for deluxe homes in Japan, as well as walls and floors for modern apartment blocks in Scandinavia. Today, it is all about “we”.

Published: 2021-05-26