Lars Schwerdtfeger from Germany joined Koskisen in October 2018 as the company’s new Regional Manager for Germany. Schwerdtfeger is in charge of sales of Panel Industry products including thin veneer plywood and customer accounts in his area.
His first months at Koskisen were spent getting to know the products and customers. There has been a lot to learn – which is not unusual at a new workplace.
“The majority of our customers are new to me, and it’s important to get to know each one of them properly to be able to meet their needs as well as possible,” Schwerdtfeger says.
In the plywood industry, Schwerdtfeger is an old hand. He joined Koskisen from Blomberger Holzindustrie, a plywood company where he initially worked as a project manager dealing with railway customers and later as a key account manager.
“Before engaging in plywood sales, I worked in university research projects and at the market data service company EUWID, writing market reports concerning plywood and, more generally, the wood industry. After a few years, I realised that I actually want to do things rather than just write about them,” Schwerdtfeger says.
The newly appointed Regional Manager says he enjoys negotiations and finds motivation in working with people.
Schwerdtfeger actually chose wood as his focus already 20 years ago when he completed a bachelor’s degree in forestry at the University of Göttingen. He completed his master’s degree in wood biology and technology.
“When I studied for my bachelor’s degree, I realised that I was more interested in wood as a material than in its biology,” Schwerdtfeger says.
He is particularly fascinated by wood’s versatility and reusability. According to Schwerdtfeger, environmental awareness has increased among customers in recent years, which offers the industry an opportunity to grow and evolve.
“Wood in itself is a renewable material. Customers’ increasing interest towards renewable materials encourages the wood industry to develop new kinds of options.”
At the moment, Koskisen’s birch plywood is used, among other things, as flooring in trucks and trains, as wall and roof panels, in furniture and in interior decoration. The chips produced as a production side stream are delivered to power plants for energy production.
According to Schwerdtfeger, one of the Panel Industry’s future challenges is to find 100% bio-based manufacturing methods. That means, for example, that the synthetic adhesives used in plywood must be replaced by other solutions in the long run.
“The production of materials needs to be increasingly based on green thinking,” Schwerdtfeger says.
Schwerdtfeger’s objective is to achieve the highest possible distribution volumes for Koskisen’s plywood and chipboard products to customers and markets. As the Regional Manager for Germany, he also wants to grow the company’s business especially in the railway sector.
“As I have previous experience with railway customers, I’m happy to also support my colleagues in other regions to navigate the railway business.”
Schwerdtfeger has also received support from his colleagues from day one. According to him, the good atmosphere and openness at the workplace are one of Koskisen’s strengths.