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OUR JOURNEY CONTINUES

Nolato’s strategic transformation

A global partner with development, production and customers on three continents.

Nolato has developed significantly over the past decade and is now a global group, in which all three business areas have a strong presence on three continents and a wide array of successful global companies as customers. Although the foundations for this were laid over 80 years ago, it was a strategic decision around 10 years ago that was key to the evolution that has led to the Nolato we know today.

"We realized that the traditional subcontractor role of being good at manufacturing components to customer specifications wasn’t enough for us to develop further,” explains Christer Wahlquist, who was a business area president at the time and is now Group President. 

“The suppliers of the future need to be able to offer customers everything from concept discussions and development support to delivery of the final product. They also need to be able to offer local production worldwide to support customers as they develop.”

Transformative decision

“We felt that suppliers who were unable to offer this could be eliminated, and we didn’t want to be one of them,” adds Christer. “So we decided to take Nolato to the next level and turn it into a global, high-tech, advanced partner for our customers.”

Anyone who runs a company knows it’s one thing to take that kind of decision, but quite another to put it into practice. So how has Nolato succeeded in transforming itself from a decent regional component supplier into a global partner that supplies end-to-end solutions; a solutions provider with development, production and customers on three continents?

“I believe the key factor has been that from the outset we already had a lot of the core capabilities for this type of strategic transformation,” explains Christer. “For instance, we’d long had a strong corporate culture that’s based on capable individuals working together, with expertise, good ideas and a sense of responsibility, which creates a successful company. This has led to us having a collaborative structure and a clear philosophy that decisions should be taken close to those people affected by the decisions. 

“That means management teams at our development and production units around the world have significant scope to lead their units in a way that fosters an entrepreneurial spirit and taking the initiative. The role of Group management is to set targets, ensure that the pace and direction are right and to provide support if necessary. But how those targets are achieved in practice is determined by local management.”

Lövepac Converting production

Valuable continuity

Christer Wahlquist believes this strong corporate culture, with significant influence at all levels, has created another key factor: continuity. The turnover of employees at Nolato’s units around the world is very low, both on the shop floor and among management.

“The in-depth knowledge and experience this creates, not just about Nolato but also about our customers and markets, make it easier for us to navigate as the world changes. Nolato comprises so much experience that allows us to be proactive even when the road gets difficult or we face obstacles,” says Christer. “It gives us the ability to continually evaluate business opportunities and quickly adapt to new circumstances.” In addition, Nolato has strong individual owners. 

“As well as acting as a sounding board, the support that active long-term owners provide is priceless,” notes Christer. “If you’re out on the open sea and the wind isn’t blowing in the right direction, it’s good to have owner representatives on the Board who have seen it all before and know you have to have a firm hand on the tiller.”

Already pointing in the right direction

“And this is where the fourth core success factor comes in: We were already good at what we did. We were already sailing in the right direction, had the wind in our sails, with practiced hands on the tiller and a chart to follow. We have also made a number of strategic acquisitions that have boosted our capabilities and strengthened our global presence. 

“And we’ve always had a good financial position, which is perhaps the final core factor. This has enabled us to continually invest in acquisitions, technology and skills to further develop our customer offering.”

So what does today’s Nolato look like?

“We have achieved much of what we wanted to when we embarked on this transforma-tional journey,” says Christer. “We have become a strategic partner for many of our customers and we have both the resources and expertise to support them from concept to the delivery of finished products. We have more than 35 of our own development and production units in Europe, North America and Asia, which are expanding continually to meet customer needs.”

Working closely with customers

Nolato’s business concept is based on close cooperation with large, leading, globally successful companies with exacting standards on precision, quality and security of supply. 

“We support customers by being experts in product development and large-scale manufacturing of complex plastic products,” notes Christer. “For example, we can meet customers’ requirements to integrate electronics into their products, which is highly sought after these days, and help them cut their carbon footprint by designing products with recycling in mind and, where possible, using recycled or bio-based plastic materials in manufacturing.”

Selected customers

“Our philosophy is to work with selected customers, not with selected industries. This means that all our customers benefit from the cross-fertilization that happens when we solve and are influenced by challenges in other sectors.”

The journey continues

“And although we are highly decentralized, our business areas and group companies are not isolated; they work together as one Nolato,” notes Christer. “This ensures that all our expertise and resources are available to all customers worldwide.

“It means, for example, that a medtech customer can benefit from our Integrated Solutions business area’s extensive experience of integrating electronics into pro­ducts, while the rest of the work is handled by medtech specialists in Medical Solutions.”

Nolato’s global presence

But Nolato’s transformation isn’t over.

“Far from it! We’re continuing to invest in people, advanced development techniques, efficient production and additional acquisitions, as well as building on our strong corporate culture, in which people make a difference by working closely with others who want to make a difference,” concludes Christer Wahlquist. “There are always new journeys ahead to learn even more and constantly progress.” 

 

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Nolato develops and manufactures both customer-specific and standard products in polymer materials for a wide range of sectors.