READY FOR A NEW ERA IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY
Hedson develops and sells equipment, primarily to automotive paint shops and tire centres. Originating in the 1960s, the company delivers leading brands in hydraulic lifts, lacquer drying and wheel washers. When Mellby Gård bought out the company from the stock exchange in 2014, it was a company needing improvement in many areas. Today, Hedson is ready to meet the enormous changes that await the automotive industry.
Hedson’s leading brands are Herkules (car lifts), Drester (wheel washers), and IRT and Trisk, which manufacture lacquer drying equipment. Hedson has its headquarters in Arlöv, outside Malmö and sells to 80 countries in all parts of the world. Subsidiaries are located in Germany, France, Canada and the US. Customers include both small workshops and major automotive manufacturers.
“The year was generally good. In particular, we have had growth in the industry and tire centre customer segments. Although the economy is strong and the weak SEK has benefited us as an export company, the key to growth lies, above all, in our constantly improved customer offering. At the same time, we have noticed a slightly subdued willingness to invest among automotive workshops,” says MD Magnus Björnström.
The automotive industry faces its most revolutionary transformation since its inception 100 years ago. Commercial breakthroughs in electric and self-driving cars are imminent, demanding radically different manufacturing and repair processes than in the handling of traditional cars. Among other things, they are built using several different materials, enhancing performance and reducing weight. Among other things, this will entail lacquering lines becoming more complex because different materials impose different demands on the lacquering process. For example, electric cars must be handled in a very different way, with the lifting and transportation of vehicles becoming important for workshops. For Hedson, this is resulting in increased demand for the company’s know-how and products. The company invests the equivalent of 6 percent of its annual sales in new development.
“This will impose new demands on car workshops being upgraded. In addition, all car brands already impose increasing requirements regarding how their cars may be repaired to maintain safety and guarantees. One example is the Volkswagen Group, which has certified our IRT machines for curing more complicated repairs. By offering high-tech solutions, we become the only choice for VAG,” says Magnus Björnström.
“All of this will drive a process of consolidation among workshops and sub-suppliers alike,” he continues. “Our market faces a major transformation and I am very pleased that we are equipped to meet it.”
Hedson’s equipment also contributes to major environmental benefits. The product range includes equipment for recycling solvents and treating water and dirt from tire shops.
The year’s challenges included the outsourcing of manufacturing in Germany entailing certain delivery problems. These have now been remedied. A new business system is being implemented to facilitate a more efficient order flow and thus increased growth.
“During the year we have focused strategically on the US. We did not fully achieve what we had planned for 2017/2018, although we have laid the foundation for a process of growth of which I have great expectations for the next few years,” says Magnus Björnström.
He considers it a great advantage that Hedson is part of Mellby Gård’s portfolio. The company is the result of a merger of the three brands IRT, Drester and Herkules but was inadequately integrated three years ago. Thanks to a long-term ownership perspective, the group has been able benefit from synergies and take on the challenges of the future.