We want both customers and employees to feel secure and appreciated

Auto-Centrum has been selling and servicing lorries and vans for approaching 20 years. With its headquarters in Västerås, and sales offices in Katrineholm and Norrköping, Auto-Centrum is never far from its customers. The firm is run by Jan Carlsson, together with Eva and Tobbe Käll.

The company’s CEO, Jan Carlsson, has been active in the haulage sector since 1965. He began working with Hanomag-Henchel, which later became part of the Mercedes-Benz Group, and in 1992 he decided to start up his own business, becoming a stockist for Mercedes-Benz lorries and vans.

“It is an exciting, dynamic industry to work in, and the pace of change is considerable,” explains Carlsson.

During the company’s 19-year history, its workforce has grown from seven to 22 employees. Likewise, turnover has climbed from SEK 9 million to its current level, SEK 110 million. Four years ago, the company extended its premises in order to achieve a modern working environment more tailored towards the needs of the business. According to Carlsson, the recipe for success involves non-hierarchical reporting relationships, a firm commitment to service and a highly competent workforce.

“We run the company based on our own unique business culture,” he explains. “We want both our customers and employees to feel secure and appreciated. Both carry equal importance for the success of the business,” adds Carlsson.

In 2003, Auto-Centrum was granted the AAA rating for the first time. The certification is a key component of the company’s business culture, simplifying its operations in a number of ways.

“When I place orders, no one ever questions our credit worthiness – our AAA rating tells our suppliers we are a reliable, solid partner,” explains Lars-Inge Lennartsson, Spare Parts Manager.

A new recruit, Gustaf Linder joined Auto-Centrum after a number of spells working for larger companies. The firm’s AAA rating was among the criteria he considered when deciding to take the position.

“I wanted to be sure the company had sound finances and a stable future,” Linder explains. “A well-run company is also a good employer.”

When Jan Carlsson founded the company back in 1992, he had a fairly clear vision of where it would stand ten years later. Carlsson, however, would achieve his goals with interest, while the company has even performed well during recent years in spite of the harsh economic climate.

“Naturally, we have felt the effects of the financial crisis like everyone else, but we have always been careful to build up liquid assets within the company during more prosperous times, which has provided us with reserves on which to draw when times are tough. I think this is how to run a business responsibly,” he adds.

Jan, Eva and Tobbe are currently setting new targets and focusing on the future of the firm. Despite having reached retirement age, however, Jan has no plans to stop working. “It’s really difficult,” he says. “I’m really happy my daughter has joined the company, together with her husband, Tobbe, and taken over some of the main responsibilities. But I still get so much out of working. As long as I stay healthy and my body holds out, I plan to continue,” Carlsson maintains.


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