Page 1

It is quite remarkable that Abena has become what it is today: everything began with the foundation of Saekko, Director Jens Terp-Nielsen Painting: Thomas Kluge

but in fact the development of the group could easily have gone in another direction.

The fact is that our founder, Jens Terp-Nielsen, looked at all kinds of opportunities when he planned the establishment of his own company. Actually, the outcome could easily have been a grain-drying company in Haderslev, a mill on Mors or a grocer´s shop in Stenlille on Zealand‌.perhaps very different from the large, global company which has its headquarters in Aabenraa today.


It started with sacks Jens Terp-Nielsen was born in Hellevad in

at a feedstuffs company in Assens until

1926 and served his apprenticeship with

he was called up for military service,

a grocer in Agerskov in 1941. Following

where he was attached to the Defence

a four year apprenticeship he wished to

Supply and Secretariat Corps.

continue his education at business school, and so he moved to Frederikshavn where

After his military service Jens returned

he successfully took and passed his

to Aabenraa and was employed by

examinations. Subsequently, he worked

the feedstuffs company “Jydsk Andels-


1953 Soenderjyllands Saekkefabrik’s first office and company car

1953 Minute book from the founding general meeting

foderstofforretning”. Working in the

independent and through his work

main office, his personnel file from that

at the feedstuffs company he came

time shows that he was a much valued

into contact with director Flemming

employee, earning the impressive sum of

Frederiksen, who was the owner of

DKK 2,700 per annum, which fortunately

”Aabenraa Saekkelager”, a company

did increase in subsequent years!






feedstuffs imported from Brazil, which However, the young Jens Terp-Nielsen had





were cleaned, repaired and then resold.



At that time, in 1953, there was a great demand for jute sacks for many different uses, from grain to coal. Flemming Frederiksen and Jens Terp-Nielsen agreed to start a new company and, as of 1 July 1953, Jens Terp-Nielsen resigned from his job at “Jydsk Andel” and became a partner in the new company.







“Soenderjyllands Saekkefabrik A/S”, and the first general meeting was held on 11 November 1953 at 5 p.m. The share capital was of DKK 40,000, consisting of DKK 20,000 from Aabenraa Saekkelager and Flemming Frederiksen, with 19,000 from business manager Jens Terp-Nielsen and the remaining DKK 1,000 from manager Heinrich Ludvig Joergensen. At the same time the three shareholders made up the board of the company, and to begin with Heinrich Joergensen and Jens Terp-Nielsen, supported by a single lady clerical officer were the only employees of the company, which was situated at the harbour. 1953 Anni Gerthsen, Saekko´s first machinist


Approx. 500 m² leased premises at Gl. Havn in Aabenraa

Tarpaulins From the earliest company records, the sale and production of tarpaulins played an important part in the firm’s activities. Heinrich Joergensen began the production of tarpaulins back at the harbour and as the business took off, a new employee, Christian Hansen, was recruited to take care of tarpaulin 1958 Tarpaulin production at the harbour, Alex Hansen

production in premises of only 3x6 meters in size!


Teething troubles The first years at the harbour were quite

simple as the use of the company car:

As this dispute repeatedly resulted in

turbulent. It proved difficult to make the

Jens Terp-Nielsen insisted on a very

the cancellation of customer meetings,

partnership work, and the result was a



it was discussed at a board meeting

break between Flemming Frederiksen

and professional use of the car, while

and Jens Terp-Nielsen bought Flemming

and Jens Terp-Nielsen after only 2 years.

Flemming Frederiksen was of the opinion

Frederiksen out by taking over his shares

The breakup centred on an issue as

that his wife could use the car as well.

of DKK 20,000 at a price of DKK 30,000.








considering the fact that both 1953 and 1954 were lossmaking years for Soenderjyllands Saekkefabrik.





of the shareholding from Flemming Frederiksen, worth DKK 5,000, to his brother Arne Henrik Nielsen. This was necessary at that time as a loan had to be raised to make ends meet. Other family members supported Jens as well, and among others he received an advance of DKK 10,000.

1955 The cooperation with Aabenraa Saekkelager ended


as much

1954 Flood at Gl. Havn

1957 Warehouse of sacks

The flood The losses referred to above were partly

as much as possible. Using sand sacks and

the newest sacks dried at a ”grate drying

caused by a major flood at the harbour.

pumps from Falck, they tried desperately

plant« at Soenderjysk Froeforsyning, but

On Sunday evening, 4 January 1954, the

to keep the water out of the premises,

nevertheless, a considerable part of the

harbour master called to say that a storm

but despite their best efforts the water

stocks had to be scrapped. There was no

was ahead and they expected the old

did get in. Fortunately, they had been

insurance coverage as a flood is classed

part of the harbour to be flooded.

far-sighted enough to have the machines

as “an Act of God”…







Jens Terp-Nielsen and Heinrich Joer-

damaged. Even so, much of the stocks

gensen rushed to the harbour to save

were ruined. It did prove possible to have


The Bank Manager Calls The wide ranging trading activities of

at the very modest premises, and said

your request”. Looking back now, this

the company had initially indicated a

that he would consider the case. On 28

assessment of the company’s credit

solid business venture, but following the

October 1954 the following information

worthiness seems a bit strange, but in

first flood in 1954, Jens Terp-Nielsen tried

was received in a letter… ”We kindly

spite of their refusal to help Jens with

to get an overdraft facility of DKK 15,000

inform you that we regret not being able

his overdraft it should be mentioned

from the Nordslesvigske Folkebank to

to comply with your wish for a overdraft

that the company continued working

assist the refinancing of the company.

facility of DKK 15,000 due to the current

with Nordslesvigske Folkebank (now

However, this proved to be more difficult

very tight money markets. However,


than expected. The bank manager came

if financial matters should improve

to the harbour for a visit, had a look

later on we are willing to reconsider

However, without proper credit facilities the situation was desperate. A meeting with the company lawyer Alex Bygballe, who was newly established in Aabenraa, resulted in him spontaneously offering a guarantee for the bank loan. This guarantee formed the basis for the further development of Soenderjyllands Saekkefabrik. Alex Bygballe became a member of the board and remained so until his death in Spring 2003.

1954 Refusal by the bank concerning an overdraft of DKK 15,000


The little plate One of Jens Terp-Nielsens famous mottos is ”Earn what you use but do not use

1955 Gerda and Jens Terp-Nielsen with Preben on Roemoe

what you Earn”.

This text originated on a little wooden

accounts since then show, this motto was

was kept in a reserve account as a buffer

plate which was purchased on Roemoe,

put into practice quite literally. Although

and no dividend was paid. This principle



is still very much part of the company









and their son Preben spent time in a

shareholder in the company he did not

summerhouse after the first disaster at

draw much of the profits - either in 1957

the harbour – both to get over the shock,

or 1958, during which time the company

and to think about the future. As the

performance began to improve… this

philosophy today.


1956 Sack beating machine in operation

Working environment In






or a canteen. Nevertheless, there was

little company was tough. The work with

workforce consisted of Jens Terp-Nielsen

a good working atmosphere: one of

the sacks could be both dusty and heavy

and Heinrich Joergensen, assisted by a

the employees said that she sometimes

and even in those days of no statutory

few ladies who handled the sacks. The

managed to go home for lunch, which

working conditions it was sometimes

work was not technically advanced:

lasted for 1 hour, bake a cake and take

necessary to give the employees time off

some Singer sewing machines and a sack

the cake back to work for teatime.

due to dust related health problems.

truck were the main appliances with which the main part of the working

Some of the photos from the initial

process could be managed. There were

time at the harbour may look very

no staff facilities like accommodation

romantic, but the everyday life in the


Packing with string The break with Frederiksen also meant



the swaddle could be drawn together at








Erhvervsraad was helpful in introducing

both ends and numbered consecutively.



the company to the slaughterhouse in

This was one of the tasks the company


Graasten: the slaughterhouse exported

kept on when it moved from the harbour

had to seek additional new customers

carcasses to England, which were packed

to Vestvejen.

outside the region. Following the closure

in swaddle, known as “wrappers�; the



English delivered the basic fabric, which


somewhat later, the time was right to

was then cut and sewn into wrappers

another source of income: Fuglsang had

establish business links farther away

that could contain 3 carcasses each;

a malt export business to Argentina, and

from the home area.

finally, a sisal string was added so that

they needed inlayers for the jute sacks












in which the malt was delivered. These inlayers were sewn from brown crepe paper supplied by Fuglsang.

The importance of this partnership during what were very hard years is still remembered and appreciated in Saekko.

1958 Atmosphere impression from the harbour


1958 Saekko´s director´s car parked in front of the main building

Saekko According to the minutes of proceedings of






purpose of the company should be the manufacture of and trade in sacks, tarpaulins and wrappers as well as trade with ropes and the rental of sacks and tarpaulins. The name of the company 1957 Staff on a summer picnic in the Alssund area


now was Soenderjyllands Saekkefabrik, Saekko A/S.

1956 »the little red one« – internal account

So far, so good…. At this stage of its development the picture is clearly of a little company that is very busy with a development plan based on sound business principles. The characteristic trait of the company´s leadership is persistence. In the initial

problems were overcome bit by bit: Jens

Many opportunities were tried, and the

phase there were in fact “high water”

Terp-Nielsen’s wishes for new business

early accounting records give examples

problems outside and “low water”



of the scope and range of other potential

funding problems inside. But these

problems by finding workable solutions.

sales channels looked at; eg. there is a






section called ”other trade” covering many different subjects and product groups which were tested, including the sale of printed Christmas tree underlays!

Gerda and Jens Terp-Nielsen at a company party






ness - has characterised the development

The basis, however, is economy and

of the company throughout its’ history.

system. The motto ”skills are useless,



without a sence of order” has followed

willing to depart from received wisdom

him all the way and so has his attitude

and dared to think “outside the box”

to business: according to Jens, a trade is

and consider something new. This has

only a good trade if it is to the benefit of

also characterised his style of leadership

both purchaser and seller.





when he found it essential to delegate

consideration of different solutions for

out both tasks and responsibility to the

Jens’ wife Gerda was also on the com-

problems - combined with impulsive-


pany staff for many years. When the






children Preben, Arne and Hanne reached school age she took over the salary accounts and she participated actively in the company’s work over a long period.

New frames Of course all these ambitious plans could not be realised from the humble harbour premises, and by 1960 the company had started planning the purchase of land at Vestvejen to meet the company’s expansion objectives. The large quantities of goods which were traded through Saekko at the harbour very quickly made an extension to the buildings essential.

Vestvejen was planned to be the site of a big bypass route around Aabenraa, and although it had not quite become that it was still a very busy area, carrying a great deal of traffic. A large, prominent corner site was chosen in the belief that as people braked as they approached the

1965 Truck with newly mounted tarpaulin, Jens Jensen, Bov


corner, they would automatically notice the company’s buildings sitting right in front of them! The location, being as it was 16 meters above sea level, also appealed to Jens Terp-Nielsen, as this would avoid more floods.

The company at Vestvejen was extended four times. First for tarpaulins, followed by a mounting hall in the cellar in 1967. A larger extension was erected in 1971, and in 1975 the warehouse was extended in order to provide buildings which were sufficiently large to cope with all aspects

1963 Warehouse with jute sacks and imported for hessian wrappers

of the business.

From sacks to Saekko At the time that Saekko expanded at

product assortment appealed to more

Vestvejen in 1968, the trading range

or less the same buyer category, ie the

consisted of 12 main products. It appears

farming and trade communities.

from an archived removal announcement to customers that the company was

These products characterized in many

advertising the sale of new grain sacks,

ways a transitional phase for Saekko

paper sacks, garbage sacks, used sacks,

A/S: they were about to be replaced by



other products, and by the early 1960’s a

cloths, binder twine, sisal strands, sack

gradual, but definite change had begun.




strings and steel strings. The entire


When planning the removal of Saekko

products and new markets in order to

from the harbour to Vestvejen, Jens

survive. The new product ranges selected

Terp-Nielsen started thinking seriously

included garbage stands, and plastic

about introducing some totally new

and paper sacks, and it is from this time

products. The market for traditional sack

that hospitals, nursing homes and other

goods and binder twine would stagnate

institutions start to become the new core

or even disappear within a couple of

clientele of the company.

years: the company needed to find new

1963 Stamp printing machine for sacks, type Hamag

1963 Management office at Vestvejen


said Jens Terp-Nielsen. He was given the sample stand and some brochures and studied both the same evening. The next day he dressed in his best suit and drove to Esbjerg Central Hospital, where he was rather shocked at how easily he got an order for quite a large quantity - 10 stands and 3000 sacks. At the time, he had no idea where or when or how to have this stand produced, or even how to deliver them. However, he succeeded in resolving these problems and the stand opened the door to the hospital sector which remains today one of Saekko´s 1960 Saekko´s Hospi stand

main buyer categories.

Hospi-stand – signpost to the healthcare sector The now famous hospi-stand was among

Schmidt came by to sell some paper

the important new products that marked

sacks and when he returned to his car he

the turning point in the company’s

mentioned that he had a stand he would

history, and yet it was by pure chance

like to sell to hospitals but could not find

that this product became part of Saekko´s

the time. ”Well, I have the time, and

assortment. A representative from F.L.

we need something new in our range,”


Madame-stand The Madame stand was another successful startup product, which also began by coincidence: the owner of a camping site needed plastic bags for the ladies rooms but had very limited floor space in which to site them. He had considered hanging the Hospi-stand on the wall, but this was not practicable. However, the idea itself whereby the bag is fixed by channels was successfully transferred to the Madame-system, where it is still the main operating principle of the system to this day. Good hygiene required that the bag could be easily opened and closed, and the solution for achieving this was by means of a small wall stand with a 1961 Mounted Madame stand

spring system for which Saekko acquired a patent.







successfully launched was a bed table that could be positioned over the bed, enabling the patient to read and eat in comfort. The table was manufactured by ROVA in Aabenraa. These three products started Saekko´s Hospital Sales division.

1965 A popular Saekko product saw the light of day

Saekko-Boy Simultaneously with the new Hospital initiatives, Saekko continued developing 1974 Saekko at Vestvejen


its’ paper and plastic product ranges. The famous Saekko Boy was an offshoot of

the hospi stand, being as it is a stand using sacks in various sizes: it is still a very popular product today. The company’s clientele continued to grow, with ever more institutions of very different kinds being involved in new initiatives which resulted in the production of diapers & pads, plastic sacks etc. as well.

For practical reasons production of these products was sub-contracted to external suppliers: for more than 30 years the company Neve & Son, Vollerup, has produced the Madame and Saekko Boy systems, and the family Neve has been a reliable and loyal supplier to Saekko throughout this time.







planned the building of a large paper factory for the production of 30,000 tons of paper annually in partnership with a foreign supplier. However, these plans had to be abandoned, as, during the final phase, the paper market developed in an unexpected and negative way. At about the same time the company purchased a plastics factory, but this was sold again shortly afterwards as part of an overall agreement with a colleague on the market. Taken as a whole, these events were part of coordinated planning in order to strengthen and stabilize the market position of the company, with the overall objective of concentrating all efforts on the production, rather than the trading side of the business.

The paper production in all sizes and colours is the most important raw material


One Root - many branches The will to innovate and look at new opportunities is a recurring theme in the company’s philosophy, also reflected in some of the acquisitions the company has made in diverse fields. For example, a company called Terko, which produced swimming pools. This company was purchased in the mid-seventies and resold

The most important reason for the sale

a few years later to the company “Polar

of these companies was the fact that

running through the group, it was

Baade� in Norway. Also a mat company

they did not contribute enough to the

important to rationalise and concentrate

on Funen was purchased in the early 90s

development of the Saekko family: with

on areas of core competence in both

and subsequently resold.

an increasingly clearly defined structure

manufacturing and trading.


Saekko in the local community Through the years Saekko has also been active within other areas of the local community. At the end of the 60s and the early 70s the company sponsored the local football team – curiously enough this was the very time when the club had its most successful period – as they say, success breeds success!

Midstreams: Politics, and the new generation However, Jens Terp-Nielsen had other burning interests besides the company. From 1970 he was heavily involved in the local chamber of commerce and city politics. Thus a quite natural opportunity to introduce a generational change in the family business presented itself. 1973 Aabenraa Football Club 2. devision team


Accordingly, on 1 October 1978, Preben Terp-Nielsen joined Saekko A/S.

The result was that the machine was purchased 1984 The business price of the “Andelsbank” is presented to Gerda and Jens Terp-Nielsen

Preben Terp-Nielsen had been working in

needed new computers to handle the

the building industry, but was persuaded

increasing management tasks, and that

to move to the family company. He

the work force needed to be reduced

was educated as Cand.oceon (business

by two people… however, these matters

economics) and had a lot of new ideas,

prompted the only really lively debate

which have influenced the company ever

arising from the generational change.

since. It might not seem much that he

Jens Terp-Nielsen did not want a machine

was the first to say that the company

to replace the employees.









dismissed. In other areas, however, Jens Terp-Nielsen put fully into practice his philosophy of delegating tasks to others.

1980 Raising of the rooftree at Egelund -architect Gerhard Schulz, Johs. Sørensen Kock, Jens Terp-Nielsen and Preben Terp-Nielsen


Everyone is different and Preben TerpNielsen has a different leadership style from his father. Based on his visions and the demands of the time he wished to extend and prepare the company for tomorrows challenges in Denmark and abroad. The company was only scratching

Saekko at Egelund

a huge market, and if you do not grow,

The wholesale company grew steadily

diapers and later on sanitary towels at

you die. Right from the beginning he

based on sales of Saekko Boy, Hospi-

the Vestvejen premises.

worked on an extension of the product

stand and Madame stand products.

The continuous growth at Egelund was

range and in the initial phase he literally

Due to steadily increasing turnover,

based on the implementation of new

drove all around Europe in order to find

the premises at Vestvejen became too

computer systems which incorporated

products and suppliers who might be

small and so it was decided to move to

a sales system called ”Annual delivery

interested in working with Saekko. In

Egelund, a new industrial area outside

plan”. This system greatly helped with the

this way, the Saekko product offering

Aabenraa and close to the motorway. In

planning of deliveries to customers and

has been extended and developed with

1980 the first of the present buildings at

in streamlining the internal purchases

new products, among them a larger

Egelund came into use, and at the same

of the company by planning the influx

assortment of diapers and incontinence

time Bambo A/S started producing baby

of goods. The “Annual delivery plan”


Today the group’s marketing activities with





beyond Europe in what is a truly global operation.

1979 Closing time meeting discussing building plans at Egelund


1980 Warehouse at Egelund

1980 First stage of Saekko´s building at Egelund

was developed by Uwe Hansen, the

Immediately after the completion of

needed. To minimise costs it was decided

company’s first salesman. Over the years

the warehouse construction of the new

to use a ”temporary” office building,

this system has been further developed

office facilities at Egelund began. The

which was expected to be usable for

and it is now an integrated part of our



a period of 2 years. However, in true

current electronic computerised system.

numbers of administrative staff were

Saekko fashion, this building has been



in use for more than 10 years now! As always, new investments in machinery and





so the offices had to wait until just a month or two ago, when permanent accommodation was acquired for the administrative functions.

1992 Placing of hut at Egelund


Sales representatives in front of the main building at Egelund

Our first sales staff As previously stated, Uwe Hansen was

went on to reach his 25th anniversary

the new products went so well that the

the first permanent salesperson. He

with the company. True, they did not

company employed a new salesperson,

contacted Jens Terp-Nielsen one day and

sell very much to begin with, but Saekko

Mogens Soeholt, for the Sealand area a

expressed his wish to work at Saekko.

secured a foothold in the healthcare

year later, and three years later another

Jens Terp-Nielsen took him to Fredericia,

sector and began to build market

person, N.J. Andersen, for Northern

to show him the product range, and

awareness of the company at various


to consider if this would be the right


opportunity for him and the company. Uwe Hansen was very interested and


Over the following months, the sales of

1985 Work and leasure-time activities in the country

Leasure-time activities Uwe Hansen, the first salesman of the

increasing need for exten-

company, was the originator of the

sions and new buildings: time

Hereford cattle project. He also persuaded

for such amusing diversions

Preben Terp-Nielsen to keep wild boars.

became increasingly rare.

At its’ height the stock numbered some 60 boars. However, they only had a few years with listening to the sounds of “moo” and “oink” as the animals had to retreat simultaneously with the


Central warehouse - Abena Logistik A/S In



of 14,000 m2 which towers over the


warehouse at Egelund in order to

surrounding area on its range of hills in a

optimum efficiency, they succeeded in

provide more storage space for the

rather dignified manner.

minimizing the problems and avoiding











adverse effects on customers, thanks

passing Aabenraa on the motorway you

Though it took a running-in period

to the wholehearted commitment and

cannot avoid seeing this huge building

of more than two years to get the

flexibility of the staff. Due to this long

Central warehouse contains 30,000 pallet spaces and the picture shows Anders Christiansen


1995 Automatic forklift truck handles internal transport

1995 Dres is loading a truck

running-in period the central warehouse

since been replaced by conveyors. The

needs of the business and it was planned

was never officially inaugurated, and just

computer controls the deployment of the

to rent out the free capacity to other

came quietly into use.

whole process right from the receipt of

companies. However, as is often the way,

the order until the product is delivered

it very quickly became apparent that

to the customer.

the company could in fact use the entire

The entire warehouse is computerised

capacity of 30,000 pallet spaces itself.

and was originally equipped with selfpropelling forklift trucks. However, these

From the beginning the size of the

quickly proved to be too slow and have

central warehouse exceeded the actual


Saekko today, 2003 The product range today covers consumer

There are 4.500

goods and healthcare products. The

article numbers in today’s catalogue.

customer groups are institutions, indu-

Erik Barsoe Bohsen is the managing

stry, hotels and restaurants.



.. ..

Diapers and sanitary towels Plastic bags and sacks Wipes Disposables

.. ..

Household products Gloves Table arrangement Hand hygiene and cleansing


1984 Opening of a Danish Export Company in Japan

Saekko in Japan �Dansk-japansk Handelshus� is one of

county mayor Kresten Philipsen, director

Jens Terp-Nielsens other initiatives. The

Jens Terp-Nielsen and 3 representatives.

company commenced operations with

After a few years Alfred Kohberg

an impressing opening in Japan, with the

entered the ownership and finally took

participation of the Danish Ambassador,

over the company.


Abena Marketing Abena Marketing takes care of the

sales material, development of packaging










all group companies, including such

Denmark and abroad. The day-to-day

activities as the production of brochures,

head of this department is Torben Boje.


BaneGaarden Director Jens Terp-Nielsen purchased BaneGaarden, the old railway station in Aabenraa, in the beginning of 1993. BaneGaarden was no longer in use and the building was in a state of disrepair.

During a vernissage for young artists Jens Terp-Nielsen was provoked by some of the cultural personalities in town who thought that the business world did not dare to invest in art. As Jens Terp-Nielsen wanted to change this he purchased BaneGaarden and had it renovated

Light rooms with high ceilings form a perfect frame for the exhibited art from A-Z in the original architecture. BaneGaarden




Saekko´s 40 years jubilee on 1 July 1993.






become exciting



venture in town. BaneGaarden Kunst & Kultur consists only of buildings, which means that no collections etc. are connnected to it. However, it forms the basis of many different exhibitions and cultural arrangements, such as lectures and concerts.


1963 Tarpaulin production at Vestvejen

in such way that they can be properly sealed so that the haulier does not have to open the truck when crossing borders. Tarpaulins were thus an ideal product for the company to handle as part of its

Saekko Presen足ning

overall product development.


sale of binder twine and jute sacks at

In 1971 the companies divided as part of a

important products when the company

the harbour was complemented by

generational succession planning policy:

moved to Vestvejen.

increasing production of tarpaulins for

the production of tarpaulins became

sale to farmers and haulage contractors.

the responsibility of an independent

In 1963 the first part of the building

Gradually, the well-known TIR-tarpaulins

company called Saekko Presenning A/S

at Vestvejen was finished and the

line entered the range, and export

and Saekko itself continued its activities

production of tarpaulins could start

haulage contractors became an important

on the institutional marked as the other

moving there from the harbour. The

customer group. TIR-tarpaulins are sewn

half of the organisation.







Within a couple of years, market share had increased to the point that a new production plant was built at Lundsbjerg. A satellite unit in Padborg followed later, giving the company vital representation in Denmark´s largest transport centre.

Hans Frederiksen, who came from the grain business, was managing director of Saekko Presenning for 20 years, and under his management the company became the market leader in Denmark. Key export markets to Germany, Sweden and Norway were also developed, and in 2001, when Hans Frederiksen wished to retire, the company was sold to Knud Hansen, Thermo King. Today it is part of

1974 Tarpaulin production at Lundsbjerg

a total transport concept for the Danish overland transport market.

1978 Tarpaulin production in Padborg


Bambo Bambo




Terp-Nielsen as the managing director.

established on 1 May 1980 and the board

Joost van Haren joined the board a few

of the company consisted of Svend Henrik

years later.

Vallestam, Koeping in Sweden, Alek Mottling from Duesseldorf, Germany,

Briefly, what led up to the establishment

and Emil Elvers-Thomsen, with Preben

of Bambo was that Emil Elvers-Thomsen was importing diapers into Denmark, just as Saekko were. Both parties were doing very well, and the high freight rates from Sweden to Denmark made the production of the products in Denmark the logical next step.





examined production machines abroad, and it was agreed that Emil ElversThomsen would have the task of finding the best possible location for a plant in Denmark.

1980 Johannes Thomsen filling up raw materials


the machine was installed at Vestvejen in Aabenraa in a common limited company, which




as a director. A few years later Saekko bought the foreign shareholders out of the company, and later Arne TerpNielsen became director of Bambo: it is under Arne Terp-Nielsen’s management that the company has grown to enjoy the position it has today.

1981 Tut and Birgit working at machine M1

The whole process was hectic: consider

proposal for a diaper plant in some older

the following example of one of the

buildings. In the late afternoon the day

planning days:

At 8 in the morning

finished with a meeting in Aabenraa,

a meeting was held with the mayor

where Jens Terp-Nielsen could inform

of Maribo, Steen Nielsen, as Maribo

everybody that Saekko A/S had just

Municipality was able to offer both

started a new building at Egelund and

an industrial building and regional

that the existing buildings at Vestvejen

development support for this project.

could therefore be used for diaper

After breakfast in Maribo they continued

production at the end of the year.

with lunch in Otterup on Funen, where director Poul Groenbaek presented a


This solution was quickly adopted, and

Manager Arne Terp-Nielsen

therefore able to oversee the running in and starting up of the machine. At that time CTMP fluff pulp was used, delivered in blocks from the Swedish company Rottneros. This type of fluff had very short fibres, which produced a lot of dust during production as well as rather inconsistent weight of

The first diaper machine To begin with only rectangular pads were produced. The production manager,










1982 Manual packing of diapersand he was delivered from Sweden,


1988 Minister of Finance Thor Petersen starts the new diaper machine M5 1985 Bambo´s first warehouse and production premises at Egelund

the diapers. The products were marketed

200 pcs. per minute – a lot more than

as baby diapers and were also used as

the company was actually able to sell at

an additional insert pad in incontinence

that time! However, the market grew


rapidly, and it was not long before the whole of the machine’s capacity could be

1985 A view through Bambo´s production hall


The next milestone investment was

utilised. Since then, our technicians have

made in 1987 with the purchase of the

continuously developed manufacturing

all-in-one baby diaper machine M4. The

techniques, and production speeds have

price was 6.6 mill. SEK, and M4 was

got faster and faster – staying ahead of

commissioned by county mayor Kresten

the competition in this way has been an


important factor in the success of the company.

The new machine was able to produce

Bambo’s production The production of baby diapers for the

the production of adult incontinence

so-called private label business, where

products is the main business: today,

customers sell the products under their

some 60% of our total production is

own brand name, is the main activity of

sold under Abena Group’s brand names

the company on the consumer market.

“Bambolina” and “Abena”.

On the institutional market, however,

1996 Start of the new-installed INCO-machine M10


Bambo produces 24 hours a day, 7 days

give them the opportunity of more job

foil with ultra sound, to using computer

a week.

variety and interest. This in turn reduces

operated servomotors for rolling pinions

attrition of staff: job rotation is a key

etc. Taken as a whole, this policy has

Some idea of the scale of growth in

part of this concept, and during the

contributed to better working conditions

recent years is shown by the fact that, to

last couple of years, teamworking has

today, among others by reducing the dust

begin with, the company had 2,400 m³

been introduced in all sections of the

and noise problems and reducing heavy

of space at Egelund, whereas Bambo has

business, whereby teams of workers take

lifting and other physically demanding

approx. 41,000 m² today…and further,

full ownership for the particular tasks

work processes.

massive growth is being planned even

they work on – including identifying

as this short history goes to print! In the


same period the number of employees






increased from 16 to 350. Over the years, our policy has been to A very important part of the Bambo

invest in the latest technology available

philosophy has always been to train staff

– from the cutting of diapers with a high-

to acquire new skills, and in so doing to

pressure water jet, to the welding of

Abena Consumer Products Abena





previously called Bambo Scandinavia - in Hilleroed attend to sales to the Scandinavian market for convenience goods. The department has 9 employees 1989 Adjustment of machine (M5)


2003 Abena Consumer Products

and Emil Elvers-Thomsen is managing director.

Rul-Let Rul-Let was established in 1949, and was originally called Dansk Papir-Industri A/S,

Kim Jacobsen produces alu foil

but changed later into Meydan Industri. Having been taken over by Saekko, the company changed its name back to Dansk Papir Industri A/S.

In 1998, the company was divided into a production company named Rul-Let A/S and an independent marketing company to carry the original name, Dansk Papir Industri A/S. In Scandinavia the company has become the leading supplier of everything that belongs in drawer 3 in the kitchen, from alu foil, baking paper and freezer bags, to garbage bags and household film.


Every business start up is difficult, and in many areas Rul-Let saved on inventory costs while using the money for machines instead – a policy that was financially sound,

and gradually resulted in an

increasing number of employees. As with its parent company, Bambo, Rul-Let, produces both private label and Rul-Let brands.

Rul-Let has no storage of finished goods: instead, every day, some 50 to 70 pallets of finished products are shipped to the main




main buildings extend to about 6000 m², of which the main part is a large modern factory building. Furthermore, the company has a workshop, which maintains and repairs the machines, and develops new installations for the company.

In this jubilee year there are 43 employees and Hans Sode is the managing director.


Torben Aebeloe cuts sheets for sandwich paper

Saekko Industri Part of the long-term strategy, born out

At the same the main clientele would

strengths in the relatively small Danish

of a wish to spread the risk, resulted in

be industrial companies – companies,

market. This basic philosophy has served

the establishment of Saekko Industri in

which could also purchase many of the

our company well over the years in all

1984 as another branch of the group.

consumer goods that Saekko was selling

markets, domestic and export: - widen

The idea was to create a new range of

to the health sector. Thus, total volume

the customer base and increase the

protection aids for the industrial sector

sales could be increased, and at the same

range of products we sell to all of them.

– a product area which on the surface

time the total customer base could be

might have little connection to the other

extended and diversified. Larger volumes

One obvious way to spread the risk was

range of products, but which actually

meant a stronger negotiating position

to become less dependent on the health

offered the opportunity for Saekko to

for the company, and closer relationships

sector alone, which meant identifying

build up expertise in a new area.


and penetrating an equally large market





1986 Saekko Industri at Vestvejen


with specific and ongoing needs. Saekko

with more control over shipments and

protection gowns, safety shoes and

Industri identified the increasing needs


gloves, but also includes safety goggles,

of industry for equipment for “safety on the job”.

hearing protectors and other security Saekko Industri was established by Finn

equipment. At Saekko Industri´s own

Madsen as managing director from

factory in Aabenraa, special protective

To begin with, Saekko Industri´s main

scratch - without any secure clientele

products and gloves are produced.

products were protective gloves, which

to begin with – and with a new and

were purchased through a partnership

different product range.

In this jubilee year they have 30

with a Danish importer. Subsequently,

Nevertheless, the business proved to be

employees and Finn Madsen continues

Saekko Industri began its own imports

viable, and has become a solid member

to be Managing Director.

from the Far East at better prices, and

of the group. The range consists of

Glove production at Vestvejen


From Saekko to Abena In the past ten years, group activities

completing the harmonisation process

Danish market. Increasing freight and

beyond Denmarks’ borders have been

and creating a Global Group under one

distribution costs demand the locating

characterised by use of the common

umbrella name.

of new production plants in different

company name “Abena”. All our newly established



geographical areas, and it is envisaged


All administrative, marketing, distribution

that the future development and growth

named Abena, and companies, which

and logistics activities are handled from

of the Abena Group will come from new

we acquired, such as Frantex, combine


facilities actually based in the export

their old name with the Abena name, for

markets they intend to serve.

example Abena-Frantex. Our new office building will form the




As from 1 July 2003 the entire group

basis for our total activities in Denmark

Aabenraa, which was previously owned

is known as Abena Group, with its

and abroad and at the same time this

by Falck, will form the basis for the

head office at Egelund, Denmark, thus

will be one of the last expansions on the

group’s future IT development. Over




the course of the next 2 years, all Danish

Abena Data, which is headed up by Uffe

and foreign daughter companies will be

Soerensen. In the longer term Abena Data

connected online to the central computer

will offer different services to companies

department of the Abena Group based

outside the group as well.

here in Aabenraa. This will form the basis of our policy for all future growth across the group: local activities, based within or close to the market of sale, but connected by technology to the Group Headquarters in Aabenraa.







managed by our own IT company,

Group Manager Preben Terp-Nielsen


Buy or be bought! The structure of the Abena Group has

user. This will enable us to ensure a full

recently developed in 3 areas. The

understanding of the use of each product

most important area is the institutional

and to consider all the environmental

market with various aids and nursing


consumables for hospitals and nursing

increasingly important consideration in

homes, as well as the consumer and

the consumption of all consumer goods

industrial markets.


The 3 main areas are all complementary

This increasing worldwide awareness is

to each other. Collectively, they give us

complimented perfectly by one of the

as a group the overall critical mass we

fundamental principles of the Abena

need to retain our independence. For

Group, and an aspect that all the

the future of this independence, we

employees identify with. We can use this

MUST continue to grow rapidly, but in a

increasing worldwide awareness to our

structured, manageable way.


By better use of our production facilities,


we will also be able to control the

unifying factor for the whole group,

development of our products, right

encompassing the core beliefs of our

through from raw material to the end

entire organisation.












The leaf as a symbol To coincide with our 50th Jubilee all company group names change to Abena. Both the Danish and foreign daughter companies will use the combined Abena name and leaf logo in their company names.

The name was created by the company´s marketing manager, Torben Boje, and is now the company name that unifies the entire group.

. . . .

Social responsibility

The leaf symbolizes:

The Abena Group is very much aware of

The tree – our most important raw

its social responsibility and tries to reflect


this awareness to the surrounding society.

Environment – the group is very

This also means that the company aims at

much aware of its environmental

employing the same percentage of “new


Danes” in the company, as represented

Growth – the leaf unfolds with

in society nationally. Equally, the same

the growth of the tree each year,

percentage of long-term unemployed are

and growth is the chief driver of the

taken into training as are represented in


Danish society.

Strength – the leaf converts into

Our leaf symbol captures the whole

energy, which leads to permanent

For this purpose Bambo has established

values and high quality of life

a specially flexible department, which

environmental mentality of the Abena

employs approx 7-10 people at any time,









involving them in a running in period



with a view to integrating them into our

company´s attitude to business.

general workforce.


Environmental policy Most of the goods produced and traded within the group meet all the required standards – either in the production phase, or in connection with their disposal after use.






responsible is one of our basic aims, for which reason we have decided that our group will always be a pioneer in ensuring the fulfilment of Danish and international environmental demands.

This environmental philosophy is an important part of the group profile. In the single use incontinence products market, the Abena Group is the only company producing absorbing products to hold an environmental certificate – the Nordic Swan.


Abena Group

SAEKKO Denmark



BAMBO ABENA Sachsen-Anhalt Germany

ABENA Norway

.. .. . ... . . . .

ABENA Baden-Württemberg Germany

ABENA United Kingdom


ABENA Holland




. ... .





Abena - outside Denmark


Group in 1992 and has its headquarters


in Nogent sur Oise, close to Paris. Abena-

Württemberg. The company was pur-



chased in 2000, and has its headquarters

France and also produces absorbent bed

in Flehingen, Oberderdingen. The main

pads/chair pads etc.

business area of the company is the

Number of employees: 49


Managing director: Francois Barbet-

Württemberg, mainly in the Health

to the group, and distributes group



products in Bavaria. Covers all areas of


Abena-Frantex became part of the Abena






Abena Group’s first export customer for


incontinence products.

Abena GmbH is situated in Baden-









Number of employees: 60 Managing director: Christoph Kumpf Germany Bayern

Abena in Bavaria is the latest addition

GmbH has its own pharmacy. Back

healthcare products.


Number of employees: 5








Abena Hygiene GmbH is a subsidiary in

part of the Abena Group in 1999 and

has its headquarters in Coventry, UK.

Sachsen-Anhalt. The company was estab-

has its headquarters in Kisa, Sweden.

The main business area of the company

lished in 1991 and has its headquarters

Abena Finess produces laminated paper

is the sale of group products, mainly in

in Grosszรถberitz, Germany. The main

products such as drawsheets, surgical

the Health Care sector of the United

business area of the company is the

drapes etc. Furthermore, they distribute

Kingdom. In 2003 Abena UK purchased

sale of group products in the German

the products of the Abena Group on the

a company in the south of England, near

constituent states.

Swedish market.

Southampton, and has recently opened a

Number of employees: 32

Number of employees: 134

new distribution centre there.

Managing director: Detlef Klaus

Managing director: Anders Johansson

Number of employees: 32

Germany Sachsen Anhalt






United Kingdom




Abena UK was established in 1999 and

Managing director: James Russell

Germany Bambo

Bambo Vertriebsgesellschaft GmbH produces absorbing products in Grosszรถberitz. Number of employees: 20 Managing director: Detlef Klaus



Abena BV was established in 1993 and


Abena Hygiene AS was established in


has its headquarters in South Dutch city

1998 and has its headquarter in Oslo,

Abena Group in 1999 and adopted

Nieuw Bergen. The main business area

Norway. The main business area of Abena


of the company is the sale of group

Hygiene AS is the sale of the Abena

Ltd in 2001. This company looks after

products, mainly in the Health Care

Group’s total range to the healthcare

the distribution of Abena products


sector, industry and wholesalers. In 2003,

in Australia and new Zealand. The

Number of employees: 9

the company took over all activities from

headquarters are situated in Sydney,

Managing director: Jan Breek

the trading company Renico in the city

Australia. Abena-Sanicare has a wide

of Halden and established a department

range of clinical products and services

there with 4 employees.

as well as comprehensive education and

Number of employees: 18

training activities for employees in the

Managing director: Rune Iversen

health care sector.



Australia and New Zealand

Sanicare Pty Ltd became part of the new



Number of employees: 70 Managing director: Philippa Lewis






Published by Saekko A/S, Aabenraa

To mark the 50th Jubilee of the company on 1 July 2003.

Text: Elisabeth Hertzum

English version: David J. Tinning

Graphical arrangement: Ulla Severinsen, Abena Marketing

Print: Mohrdieck Tryk A/S, Aabenraa


Abena Book 1953-2003  

Abena, 1953-2003, book