Speaking from his home office in Uddevalla, just north of Gothenburg, Joakim smiles as he describes how he started at Habasit in 1999: “My two older brothers worked at Habasit in production on the evening shift after school. So when I was 16 and got a call from the production manager inviting me to join Habasit for the summer, I jumped at the chance. He said they might ask me to mow the lawn too - but sadly they never did. I continued at Habasit in the evenings after school, and worked every summer all through university. Then I started full time in fabrication, took a year off to volunteer in Mozambique, but came back again to Habasit.”

You really can grow with Habasit
A new job came up for Joakim in 2007, in Habasit’s customer care team. Two years later he moved with his wife to Oslo, to a sales job for a software company. But when Habasit invited him to return to Sweden to become a sales rep in 2011, Joakim didn’t hesitate. “I knew all about the belts from my time in fabrication, and my experience in customer care was really useful for sales.”

As his family grew (he has three lively girls, now aged nine, six and five) Joakim found it hard to spend so much time away from home. “Western Sweden is a big place.” So he returned to customer care and office-based sales. In 2016, having been promoted to Team Leader Commercial and Technical Support, he rapidly became Head of Customer Care, then Head of Application Product Management Nordics, and finally Head of Marketing Nordics in November 2019. 

As Joakim says: “You really can grow within the company. I went from production to customer care to sales, to the technical department, and then to marketing management. I’ve been in every department except finance.” 

There have been some adventures along the way. “I always remember when we built a modular belt 12.2 meters wide (by 10 meters long) to transport thin foil for a producer of power cables for nuclear power plants. We had to cut it into lengths for transport and reassembly. There we were, staff from production and the office, all helping to get it on the special truck sent by the customer. That was quite an experience.”

There is great loyalty to the company
Joakim is enthusiastic about the atmosphere at Habasit. “People stay at Habasit for years; some have been here for 30 years or more, and I tell new staff that the average is 10 to 20 years. Why? Being a family firm gives Habasit stability. The company has long-term goals and a strong vision, which means people feel secure. Our retirees like to come back as temporary workers, and enjoy seeing their colleagues again. There’s great loyalty to the company.” 

We have a great name in the market
He adds: “I’m happy to work for a company like Habasit. We offer products that I know are good quality. It’s not about price, but about giving the best solution to the customer so they have no downtime. You know, one of our reps told me a story about how he turned up at a fish industry customer in Norway and the staff came out and applauded him because they were so happy with their Habasit plastic modular belt and its cleaning features. It’s a pleasure to work with products that customers are glad to use. And we have a great name in the market.”

Habasit is local and international
So what does Joakim like most about his job? He says it’s the opportunity to work internationally within the company, as Habasit combines being very local with being very international. “You learn a lot when you communicate with other ACs. I have heard some amazing stories, like a Russia sales rep having to fly seven hours and then take a helicopter to the customer. And I thought Sweden was big!” 

Joakim also enjoys the culture of the belting industry as a whole, and working with the same people at distributors and partners for 20 years. These relationships, even with competitors, are important. “We talk about safety and we’re all dedicated to the same goal: helping customers to keep production running.”

Another huge plus is the chance to see some really interesting applications, from food production, to pet bottles, to tree log cutting for plywood. “This makes the job very attractive. Our products are not always exciting in themselves  – but the industries and sites we see are really interesting.”

Habasit is flexible, reliable and gives opportunities
When asked which of the six Habasit core values he sees most often, Joakim picks out collaboration: “We work so well with the other ACs, and people enjoy their work and stay a long time. Like me, they often move within Habasit.” And when it comes to describing Habasit as an employer in just three words, Joakim is clear: “Habasit is flexible, reliable, and gives opportunities.” He can’t resist adding: “It’s got a good culture, too.”

Customers never go back once they understand about quality
What about the trends in the belting market? Joakim is convinced that environmental issues are huge. He points to the growing market, for example in the fishing industry, for belts that are easier to clean, take less time and water, and produce less dirty abrading. “The market wants better belts and quality improvements. And customers never go back once they understand about quality.” He sees the competition heating up: “It’s a race to see who can get the best belt into market first.” Joakim adds another interesting point: “Fear of the next pandemic could mean more automation by customers, as having workers standing side-by-side at belts might have to change. This opens up new opportunities for Habasit.”

Habasit is going green
Talking of environmental sustainability, we asked Joakim what Habasit was doing in Sweden about this. “We’ve changed all the lamps in production to LEDs, so we use less energy, and we’re talking about putting in solar power. Many companies in Sweden now require you to tell them what you’re doing to improve sustainability. Of course we’re also promoting our environmentally friendly belting, like our TPO belt for material handling, which could replace some of the PVC belts. Although they’re more expensive, they’re much better for the environment. I’d like to see them replace all the old checkout belts in stores.” 

Our people find the solutions
Finally, we asked Joakim where he most notices Habasit’s innovative spirit, which has driven the company from the start. “I see it a lot locally, with our sales reps finding different ways to use the materials, come up with new solutions, and get R&D involved. Experience helps a lot. One sales rep, who’s been with Habasit for 40 years, had the great idea to use a belt upside-down to improve a paper industry application. Our people find the solutions.”