One of Lantmännen's anniversaries – celebrated 50 years in Lantmännen!
In spring 2023, 25 and 50 years of anniversaries were celebrated at Lantmännen. Claes Hersner was one of them with 50 years in Lantmännen's service! We had a chat with Claes to get perspective on a professional life. When we get in touch, it's after lunch on a Thursday and Claes is actually on vacation until he retires after the summer.
A few weeks after the celebration – how are you feeling?
I haven't really had time to reflect that much. For almost five years, I have had the opportunity to work from home, attending Teams-meetings here from the kitchen table. I've actually liked it to the maximum and believe that hybrid work is here to stay. Previously long physical meetings have become more efficient on Teams with a clear agenda and in the meantime, I have been able to start a washing machine or set the dishwasher – just perfect actually. But then, of course, it's not just about efficiency. The social aspect with colleagues is also important, so I have also been in the office from time to time. Now I work in IT, so I may be biased, but I have to say that I am impressed with how the technology within Lantmännen has worked. Admiration to that!
Claes talks about last summer's summer shadow and how a three-week vacation was cancelled to quickly clean up user identities and set up new logins etcetera.
"It was a big job, but we just had to keep fighting and solve the problems. Because we all acted quickly, Lantmännen was able to speedily shut out the intruders."
Tell us about your career?
If we're taking it from scratch, I graduated from high school in 1973. Then I applied for and got a financial position, during another guy's military service, at the agricultural company International Harvester in Copenhagen. My task was to compile Sweden's ten branches' sales of agricultural machinery, which would then be sent to the bookkeeper for registration. The ledger was a huge book where all transactions/numbers were entered by hand. A little different time and almost hard to imagine now when everything is so digitized.
A few years later, Volvo BM in Eskilstuna stopped producing tractors and the Swedish Lantmännen National Association, as it was then called, reviewed the players on the market. International Harvest was offered to become a distributor to Lantmännen's local machine company. I ended up at the spare parts department in Malmö and received customer orders that came in by fax/phone and then manually became paper orders.
In 1983, we became a separate company within Lantmännen, Lantmännen Maskin AB, and got our own CEO. We grew and expanded our system with multiple solutions. Rock – Spare part orders via central communication – was implemented in 1986, where customers created their own orders. It was big and then it spun on. At the time, the headquarters office was located in Stockholm, where the CEO, marketing, purchasing, etc. were located. The spare parts warehouse was located in Malmö with about 100 employees. In the 1990s, during the current recession, the entire machinery industry began to decline. It was decided that everything would be centered to the Malmö office, and we were in a situation to install a completely new ERP system. It was a huge project that involved all processes in the company. In May 1993 we went live with Movex, which is today still our system.
IT WAS AN EVENTFUL PERIOD. Lantmännen Maskin received an offer to take over the Claas and Case IH agencies in Denmark and Norway with deliveries to over 100 private companies. A number of unique IT solutions were developed for our Danish and Norwegian employees. It was a tough journey, but thanks to hard work, it was possible. With a cut-off time for orders at 4 p.m., we managed to deliver products by 8 a.m. the next day. Pretty amazing when you think about it.
Lantmännen also began its journey to become a Lantmännen and no longer 25 self-governed associations. In 2002 that mission was completed and in 2006 it was time for Lantmännen Maskin to also become one company together with the machine companies' operations. In the same year, work also began on upgrading all Lantmännen's machine operations to the Movex system.
Since the 80's, my own role has been what is now called Business Solution Manager. I have kept my ear to the ground and conveyed what our systems have required in terms of functionality, so that employees have been able to work as flexibly as possible. It has involved many integrations to make our customers' and our suppliers' systems work seamlessly together.
In 2018, it was time to start up a project to implement a new M3 cloud version. Another giant project that went live in January 2023. It feels really positive to leave a company knowing that the systems work, and also to have been involved in the project.
With all your experience after a long career, do you have any good advice for others who are now in the middle of their careers?
Well, I don't know – I'm a bit cautious giving advice to others. I've worked all my adult life at Lantmännen, it's a different business climate today and everyone needs to have their own learnings. But the reason I've stayed for so long is probably because it's been so varied. Quite simply, Lantmännen has been a good employer!
Would you like to elaborate on that a bit more? What is it that has made Lantmännen such a good employer?
I have been around for so long that I've seen the whole journey from a "farming company " to becoming the professional company we are today. Now we are competing with companies like H&M and IKEA of being the best employer. This is a good acknowledgement that Lantmännen has had the right direction. Today it's also so much more about being out in the social sphere which is really fun. Lantmännen is visible and is an attractive company that brings in the right skills. If you look at the financial numbers, you will also be impressed. We're just increasing all the time, which is incredible!
Now it's vacation time and retirement await in the autumn. What are your plans for that?
I live next to a horse farm with stables, a house and three hectares so I have things to do for sure. Two years ago, I quit smoking after 50 years as a smoker. It was tough but all the more fun to save the 3000 SEK/month that would otherwise have gone to smoking. That money will now be put into golf! Then I will be renovating my house. There will also be some travelling, Springsteen and Coldplay in Gothenburg during the summer, then Prag in the autumn, also golf in Spain. I think it will be a good time.
Thank you Claes, and good luck!
Claes Hersner, Business Solution Manager IT & Process
Favorite product: The Gooh! dishes. All of them are good!
Hobbies: Golf and renovating the house.