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 grocerÂ´s shop in Stenlille on Zealandâ€Ś.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 â€œJydsk Andels-
1953 Soenderjyllands Saekkefabrikâ€™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 firmâ€™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
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
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
outside the region. Following the closure
in swaddle, known as â€œwrappersâ€?; 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 SaekkoÂ´s directorÂ´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 companyâ€™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 companyâ€™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 companyâ€™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 1960â€™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 SaekkoÂ´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
itsâ€™ 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 companyâ€™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 companyâ€™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 â€œPolar
of these companies was the fact that
running through the group, it was
Baadeâ€? 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 â€“ curiously enough this was the very time when the club had its most successful period â€“ 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 todayâ€™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 â€?Dansk-japansk Handelshusâ€? 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
SaekkoÂ´s 40 years jubilee on 1 July 1993.
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
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 DenmarkÂ´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
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
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-Nielsenâ€™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
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
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
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 â€“ 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 mÂ˛, 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 â€“ 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.
â€“ 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
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
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
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.
. . . .
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
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.
Environmental policy Most of the goods produced and traded within the group meet all the required standards â€“ 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 â€“ the Nordic Swan.
BAMBO PRODUKTION Denmark ABENA INTERNATIONAL Denmark SÆKKO INDUSTRI Denmark RUL-LET Denmark
BAMBO ABENA Sachsen-Anhalt Germany
.. .. . ... . . . .
ABENA Baden-Württemberg Germany
ABENA United Kingdom
DANSK PAPIR INDUSTRI Denmark ABENA CONSUMER PRODUCTS Denmark
TECHNIKA KIESSLING Germany
. ... .
ABENA-SANICARE New Zealand
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
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
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
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
Abena UK was established in 1999 and
Managing director: James Russell
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
Groupâ€™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