Peder Dagsánth – the man whose dreams are made of sheet metal
Over the course of eight years, Peder Dagsánth’s business increased its turnover eight times over and grew from nothing to become one of the top three enterprises in its industry in Sweden. Based on his family background in the sheet metal production industry, Peder Dagsánth transformed his own ideas and vision into a complete concept. You could say that he made his dreams come true by forging them in metal.
TEXT: EVERT BLOMKVIST | PHOTO: THOMAS HARRYSSON
In spite of the substantial degree of authority he enjoys as the head of a company, Peder Dagsánth does not come across as at all brusque. If anything, he gives an impression of humility, yet at the same time he radiates a sense of shrewdness and energy. He is also easy to talk to in a quiet, down-to-earth way.
He has built up his business based on his own idea – the notion of selling a product that could be implemented from start to finish by his company and could provide customers with a completely finished solution in a short space of time, without any hassle.
The products in question are fully constructed buildings made of sheet metal. The Borga Group, which Peder owns, now has factories in four countries and established sales operations in eleven. The Swedish town of Skara is home to the company Borga Plåt and the head office of the parent company, Borga Group AB.
Peder’s father began producing sheet metal at home on his farm in Edsvära and his two sons gradually started working for the family business too. Over time, their ideas branched out in different directions, so the company was sold in the 1990s and the three men pursued their own separate paths of business enterprise.
After a waiting period of a few years (one of the conditions of the sale of the company), Peder was free to set up business again – this time with clear strategies and ideas aimed at creating a holistic concept, with every element forming part of a finished building. Now he had the chance to transform his ideas into reality and the business grew at a tremendous pace.
Borga now sells its products in eleven countries and, in addition to the factory in Skara, it also boasts production facilities in Poland, Lithuania and Romania.
For Peder, this has all been part of a deliberate strategy with a focus on countries in Central Europe, which is where he believes the company’s future lies. When the upturn comes – and Peder is convinced that it will come in these central European countries – the Borga Group will be in a position to respond quickly to the demands of the market thanks to its established production base and sales structure.
With a welding plant in Poland forming the latest link in its manufacturing chain, Borga has control over the entire production process for all the components of the finished buildings it sells to customers.
When the financial crisis hit in 2008, Borga changed course and shifted up a gear, so to speak. It launched its own complete system and building method, enabling the company to provide customers with a fully erected hall in just six weeks if required. What’s more, the customers should, in principle, be able to sit back and watch their building grow without any hassle or complications, while Borga takes care of the whole process from laying the foundations to installing the frame, walls and roof – as well as checking deliveries and providing quality assurance.
In 2014, Borga acquired Bygglant, a construction planning company in Sweden that had been focusing on agricultural construction in particular for many years. Thanks to this acquisition, Borga can now market itself as a total contractor, covering the entire process from uncleared plots of land to finished buildings, with the aim of making this easy for customers.
Borga has encapsulated its promise to customers in its catchphrase “trouble-free construction” – a goal that characterises the whole company.
“Our company has actually already been following this philosophy, but this is the first time we have formulated it in such concrete terms,” says Peder Dagsánth.
“These few words are intended to permeate throughout the company and shape the way we think across the whole group. It is a goal that focuses on the customer.
We believe that, when customers order a building from us, they should not have to face any further problems. We will deal with any issues that arise, and there won’t be many of these to begin with.”
At the same time, Borga has the flexibility to allow customers, if they wish, to simply purchase a building kit and take care of the rest of the process themselves or to only buy in certain elements of the construction work. Customers ordering agricultural machine halls, for example, usually lay the foundations themselves.
“In the past few years, we have also gathered together all aspects of the business relating to the management of the group here in Sweden and Skara,” Peder remarks.
This applies to functions such as purchasing, development and web management – anything that affects the way the group is managed.
“This has proved extremely effective, with all employees working in close proximity to one another. We now have the capacity we need to turn our customers’ ideas into reality with the aim of ensuring ‘trouble-free construction’. The company is working really hard to put this concept into practice throughout the supply chain.”
The company’s site in Skara is not particularly large. At first glance, it is hard to imagine how this building – the same building where you can walk in and buy a packet of screws or a folding rule in the shop – can accommodate the head office of an organisation which operates in so many different countries.
We walk over to a neighbouring plot where Borga is constructing a building to take a few photos of Peder with the sheet metal facade in the background. On the way we pass a prepared and gravelled plot which, it turns out, Peder has bought with a view to expanding the company’s operations in Skara.
“We are going to need more covered space here in Skara, so we’re planning on building an extension in the near future, though we don’t know exactly when,” explains Peder.
When, towards the end of the interview, I ask Peder a little cheekily what motivates him to keep on expanding the business all the time, he responds with a crooked and, I think, slightly self-conscious smile.
“Well…,” he says, hesitating and gazing out of the window for a while before finally continuing,
“To be honest I don’t really have a good answer to that.
But entrepreneurship is in my blood and everything just happened naturally. Of course, your thoughts sometimes turn to the children and whether they will be able to take over the business one day, but our boys are still quite young. The oldest is sixteen, so who knows what their views on this will be in a few years’ time?
So no, I don’t have a good answer to that question.”
Yet somehow I still have the impression that Peder Dagsánth simply thinks it is great fun to run a business.