Meet Södra Wood’s new leader
Södra Wood appointed Marcus Åsgärde to lead the business as Executive Vice President in September. After a busy first few months in the job we caught up with him to discuss his new role, which he took over from Peter Jhaveri.
An alumnus of Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg and the Stockholm School of Economics, Marcus Åsgärde is Södra through and through. He joined the business in 2005 and has managed one of its three pulp mills – Värö – having previously headed up the sawmill on the same site. He was then seconded as project manager for sales and operational planning at Södra before being appointed to this latest role, which also involves joining Södra Group Senior Management.
“Södra Wood has excellent industrial facilities but its core strengths stem from its employees - the people across the organization who are committed to developing the business and supporting the customer,” says Marcus. “Also, being part of a cooperative is a big positive for me. It encourages a long-term perspective and in Södra’s case provides a vital link with the forest as our sustainable source of raw material. This has never been more important than today when wood suppliers in Sweden and beyond are finding challenges in securing an adequate supply of sawlogs. Our cooperative structure including family foresters puts us in the strongest possible position in these circumstances.” (See article regarding “Nature Premium” in this newsletter for details of how Södra is incentivizing log supply to preserve a demand/supply balance in the market).
Marcus feels confident about Södra Wood’s future: “Trends in society and the reality of climate change mean wood is part of the future. Environmental legislation and science-based targets play to our strengths. We have work to do of course. We are looking to optimize the whole value chain, which we illustrate as the bridge from one family to another, or from family foresters to the families who buy the finished product – our customers’ customers in other words.
“Sawn timber is our core product and will remain so, but we produce lots of green energy and biofuels as side/by-products. We shall continue to develop this area, which enhances our ability to substitute fossil-based commodities. Södra are also developing organically in mass timber solutions such as CLT. And from an operational and human perspective, safety remains our top priority.”
As for the current market situation, Marcus says the focus is always to support long-term relationships. “We need to be agile and move volume between markets as they rise and fall. We avoid being opportunistic however: our priority is to have a long-term perspective and be a reliable supplier. It is on this that we have built our reputation, and this will continue under my watch.”