Älvdalen in northwest Dalarna has strong ties to the outside world. This is the home base of a highly specialised company that develops, manufactures and exports a best-selling Swedish product on the global technology market.
The car you drive, the LED headlamp you purchase and the base station that delivers text messages to your smartphone – these are everyday examples of products where Älvdalen is likely to have played a key role. And it’s all thanks to Pressmaster, a manufacturer of special hand tools for connectors used in technical installations.
The very existence of press tools for connectors is probably unknown to most people, which comes as no surprise. Pressmaster’s target group is not you or me. In fact, most of the company’s customers are not even located in Sweden.
“Japan has become a big market for us in recent years,” says Johan Hansson, the company's CEO since 2016.
Hansson has been given the important assignment by Phoenix Contact, Pressmaster's German owner, to lead the company in its growth phase. And what remarkable growth journey so far. Pressmaster has been around since the early 1970s and has over the years established itself as a leading specialist in connector pressing.
The press tools from Älvdalen are exported to a number of countries worldwide with particular emphasis on USA, Germany and Japan. Typical customers are manufacturers of special connectors for electricity or data transmission. But the identity of these companies is a closely guarded secret.
“I can’t reveal names as all of our customers demand a high level of integrity from us. Confidentiality is ultimately about safeguarding reputations. Pressmaster provides tools to several companies in similar industry sectors, often using the customers’ own brands. They, in turn, supply complete systems with connectors and press tools to their customers who could be manufacturers of cars, electronics or other technical installations. Everyone is monitoring each other in what is a fierce competitive landscape. So, for a subcontractor like us it is best to be as discreet and neutral as possible,” says Hansson.
“Our tools have a very solid reputation,” he continues. “Customers appreciate the high quality, ergonomics and flexibility of our products, which are probably distinctive characteristics of Swedish industrial production in general.”
The fact that Pressmaster’s tools are labelled “Made in Sweden” is a clear advantage according to Johan Hansson. Swedish quality and innovation is held in high regard around the world. But then what about Dalarna County? Does the company’s global business benefit from the factory’s location?
“I think so. This part of Sweden has a long-standing tradition of technology development which is very much alive today. We have leading export companies in the region in everything from base industry to high tech, which also means that a versatile skills base is available. Our industry is changing rapidly so we need to be constantly active and engaged in what we do. But I also think this is a typical trait of the population of Dalarna. We always strive to achieve good results.”
Johan Hansson describes Pressmaster as a company with a family atmosphere and a close-knit team of co-workers who are generous and open.
“We have many dedicated team members who know every stage of the production process like the back of their hand. The knowledge we have built up is sought after. When you have this high competence level and can run a production line wiat this advanced performance level, then it doesn’t much matter where operations are located.”
At the same time, Hansson adds, Pressmaster’s presence in Älvdalen is greatly beneficial in every way.
“Issues are more easily discussed and resolved when you are operating in a small community. We can easily talk to each other here.”
Given this philosophy, it is no coincidence that Pressmaster – a leading supplier in its niche with customers all over the world – has chosen a small town at the far corner of a rural Swedish county, amid forests and mountains, for its product development and production.
The company’s German owner Phoenix Contact is a world leading supplier of components in electrical engineering, electronics and automation. In recent years it has invested considerable resources in Pressmaster.
“The engineering skill required to make these press tools exists here in Älvdalen and in just a few other places in the world. It takes years to acquire this knowledge, and that’s why we take such care to further develop our operations here,” Johan Hansson concludes.
Pressmaster AB has sales of over 130 million SEK and some 110 full-time employees with operations and head office concentrated in Älvdalen, Sweden. Pressmaster is owned by the German group Phoenix Contact, a global market leader for components, systems and solutions in the field of electrical engineering, electronics and automation. Phoenix Contact Group employs more than 16,500 people worldwide.