"Development has gained momentum since we were incorporated into the Akzo Nobel Group," says Akzo Nobel Inks' environmental chemist Bert Winqvist.
Back in 1901, the German manufacturer E T Gleitsmann opened a factory to produce printing inks in Trelleborg, Sweden's southernmost town. Trelleborg has traditionally been Sweden's gateway to the Continent thanks to it' ferry connections.
The name was shortened to G-man when it was transferred to Swedish ownership in 1948. Up to 1976, G-man was run as a family business. It was subsequently acquired by the forestry company Stora, and in 1989 was sold on to Nobel Industries and renamed Casco Nobel Inks. Akzo Nobel was created in 1994 by the merger of Akzo and Nobel Industries.
Bought several companies
The Nobel Group already included the Danish printing ink manufacturer Sadolin, which was about the same size as G-man. The combination, plus the group's international nature, meant that there was considerable scope for expansion overseas.
"Scandinavia is still our most important market," says Stellan Hjörneby. "But about 50 per cent of our turnover is with other companies in Europe, Turkey and the USA."
Akzo Nobel Inks produces all sorts of printing inks although the emphasis in Trelleborg is on inks for newsprint, both for daily papers and magazines.
As Akzo Nobel Inks has expanded the company has worked hard to ensure that high quality and environmental standards are met. Rows of certificates hang in the lobby of the old factory building, including both ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.
"As a matter of fact, we had the British eco-standard BS 7750 before the ISO 14000 standard was ready," says Bert Winqvist. "The environmental perspective has expanded during the course of our work. Eco-management has forced us to pose a large number of questions about what our products contain. Our customers ask questions of us and we in turn must ask our suppliers questions. The awareness that comes from this means we choose alternatives that are better environmentally adapted than is actually necessary, in order to avoid having to label products. And this has not affected quality."
Among aspects Akzo Nobel Inks concentrate hard on are quality and environmental standards. These factors occupy Bert Winqvist's attention.