(L to R): Niklas Karlsson, International Trader; Olga Dayneko, International Trader; Joel Osterloh, Vice President; and Nirian Ordonez (sitting), International Trader.
The ELOF HANSSON AB—Integrated Global Business Facilitator
By Terry Miller
Gothenburg, Sweden—Elof Hansson AB, headquartered here, offers pulp, paper and timber products, as well as some industrial and consumer products. Elof Hansson trades imported Hardwoods in species such as Mahogany, Khaya, Sapele, Spanish Cedar, Ipe, Jatoba, Teak, Tigerwood, Cumala and Eucalyptus. North American hardwood lumber and hardwood flooring available through Elof Hansson include Red and White Oak, Poplar, Walnut, Cherry, Maple, Alder and Basswood. The firm also offers panel products and softwoods including hardwood plywood; Pine Plywood; MDF; particleboard; hardboard; tileboard; OSB; edge-glued panels; Southern Yellow Pine; Douglas Fir; Hemlock Fir; Pinus Elliottii; Pinus Taeda; and Radiata Pine.
A new decking line by Elof Hansson, Ipanema Decking Co., offers hardwood decking in more than 20 exotic species. The decking is available in 5/4” x 4”, 5/4” x 6” wide, 1” x 4” and 1” x 6” wide, all 7-to 16-feet in length. The product comes prefinished all four sides and ends and is fully certified. In four color selections (Walnut, Mahogany, Golden and Natural) and various profiles including two faces flat and one face flat/anti-slip with pre-grooved sides and Lumber Lock™ or eased four sides are available. Installation is made simple with Ipanema Decking’s clip system, drilling is not required. All Ipanema Decking is factory finished for a great look and extra-protection. A complete list of Ipanema Decking’s products and services is available at www.Ipanemadecking.com.
Joel Osterloh is Vice President in charge of the Timber Division.
In 2004 Elof Hansson acquired Timber Valley Forest Products in Suwanee, Georgia, and Timber Valley’s annual sales revenue grew from $18 million to more than $100 million in four years. “We combined the knowledge that we had in exporting softwoods from the U.S. to international countries with Elof Hansson’s expertise, offices and contacts around the world. Last year our sales were at $103 million,” said Joel Osterloh, Vice President of Elof Hansson’s timber division and former owner of Timber Valley Forest Products timber division.
With agents in more than 100 countries, approximately 550 employees and an annual business volume in excess of $1 billion, holdings of the Elof Hansson Foundation, which actually manages the company, includes six sales divisions, and a central administration for financing, risk management and shipping.
Offering extended credit periods for customers with large volume sales and low margins is all part of Elof Hansson’s risk management program. All risks including credit, currency and interest risks; logistical and political risks are carried out by experts whose principal task is to safeguard the profitability for all parties involved. “Our financial strength allows us the opportunity to offer more than the product, we offer peace of mind,” the firm’s Florida-based trader, Romel Bezerra said. “Suppliers are not required to tie up their own capital in receivables, which minimizes credit risk and offers buyers better payment options.”
Faye Wargo and Mary Zingalis are Administrative Assistants and provide important support for the group of traders.
With forestry industry specialists onboard, Elof Hansson has the ability to guide every buyer to the best product for his/her application. “When a customer calls with a request down to the time of day he needs it, there is an array of opportunities we can offer,” trader Robert Maynard explained. Osterloh added, “If the potential customer is not 100 percent sure of what they need, we ask the questions to help clarify their needs and can often offer a better option.
“A number of buyers don’t understand the difference in timbers from region to region. Each one has its own specific characteristics that are liked as well as its own characteristics that are disliked. For example, an Oak tree from Michigan is different from the Oak tree in Alabama. That’s where our knowledge and expertise is very valuable.
“From a logistics standpoint, we know that control over shipping plays an intricate role in the success of providing excellent service,” Osterloh continued. “With the multitude of products and services we offer, we are able to arrange product and shipment combinations around the globe, benefiting every aspect for both the customer and supplier.”
Bill White, International Trader
Osterloh went on to explain that members of Elof Hansson AB are traveling at most times and readily available for travel. “We travel to both our customers and suppliers. There is always one or a group of us traveling to make sure we are present at all times,” he explained. “If a customer requests a visit, we are readily available without budget restraints to be there. During this economic crisis we are financially able to be progressive, proactive and aggressive.” Elof Hansson targets the export market with domestic hardwoods and is committed to the North American market with imported hardwoods. Softwoods and panel products are also an export product for the organization.
In the United States, the company has sales operations in Suwanee and Mobile, Ala., with 12 total employees. In order to reduce communication barriers, six different languages, including Spanish, English, Swedish, Russian, Portuguese and Chinese are all spoken at the Mobile, Ala., office. A satellite office operated by Romel Bezerra is located in Pembroke Pines, Fla. In Brazil, two of the six employees are lumber inspectors who travel to the various mills and inspect every shipment.
Approximately seven employees operate Elof Hansson’s timber office in Sweden. This location specializes in Scandinavian softwoods such as Spruce and Pine for the European market. The company also procures for markets in Africa and Brazil and from Brazil into the U.S. North Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East are highly specialized markets for Elof Hansson.
The early beginnings of this sizeable organization began in Hamburg, Germany. Elof Hansson, founder of Elof Hansson AB, began in the forest products industry in 1897.
Mel Lundberg, International Trader
As sales expanded, Hansson opened his first branch office in London by 1904. Eventually he met a Japanese man in Hamburg, Mr. Nagasaki, who was an agent for Mitsui & Co. in Japan. Nagasaki needed a pulp supplier and appointed Hansson for the job. From that point on, Hansson established his “niche”—pulp for transatlantic export. By the time World War I began, he moved his operations from Hamburg to Gothenburg, Sweden, in order to continue transatlantic trade.
The success of this company may be attributed in part to the company’s core values—Trust, Commitment and Professionalism. “These core values shall permeate all of the company’s activities, whether it be in our role in various managerial or staff capacities or in our relations with the world around us— customers, suppliers and other business partners,” is found in Elof Hansson’s mission statement. “Always speak and write the truth! Truth creates confidence, success. Untruth creates distrust, decline and ruin,” Elof Hansson’s founder wrote in a memo dating back to 1904.
Today, Elof Hansson is managed by the Elof Hansson Foundation. Bo Hansson and Thomas Petterson serve on the board of directors.
Robert Maynard, International Trader
Elof Hansson AB has been recognized for their environmental efforts and is chain-of-custody certified by both the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) chain-of-custody and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Council (PEFC). Elof Hansson AB is a member of the International Wood Products Association (IWPA), National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA), and the North American Wholesale Lumber Association (NAWLA).
Ipanema Decking is available in 5/4” x 4”, 5/4” x 6” wide, 1”x 4” and 1” x 6” wide, all 7-to 16-feet in length. The product comes pre-finished all four sides and ends and is fully certified. In four color selections (Walnut, Mahogany, Golden and Natural) and various profiles, including two faces flat and one face flat/antislip, with pre-grooved sides for easy installation.