Nordic hydraulics business with a global perspective

The merger of Denmark’s Hydra-Grene and Sweden’s Specma in early 2016 instantly created a Nordic leader in hydraulics. Driven by its global perspective, the company is gradually expanding its market to other parts of the world, in particular in a close collaboration with its major industrial customers, who are happy to take Hydra/Specma’s products, skills and – not least – responsible conduct with them to all parts of the world.

This was a milestone year in Hydra-Grene's long history. The acquisition of Sweden's Specma was completed in early January 2016, and the integration process of the two specialist hydraulics companies has since run smoothly. On paper, the two companies were a perfect match, and reality has certainly proved to match the original expectations. Hydraulics is part of the core DNA of both companies, but while Hydra-Grene has a background in commerce and trade, Specma brings a Swedish industrial and production-driven culture to the match-up, and now, backed by the best of both worlds, Hydra/Specma is second to none. Hydra/Specma is currently a Nordic leader in industrial hydraulics and a global leader in hydraulics solutions for the wind industry. The company carries almost 100,000 hydraulic components: from fittings and tubes to valves, pumps and motors.

A global perspective

Although the Nordics make up the company’s domestic market, its exports of products and know-how to other parts of the world account for an ever-growing share of revenue. In March 2016, Hydra/Specma won the Danish Export Association’s prestigious Exporter of the Year award, which is given each year to companies that have demonstrated an innovativeapproach to exporting, have achieved significant success over a number of years or made an extraordinary effort to promote Danish exports. 

The timing of the award is certainly no coincidence. Hydra/Specma has performed extremely well in export markets in recent years, mainly because the company’s Nordic customers have been wanting their top suppliers and business partners to follow them onto international markets. For Hydra-Grene, this means first and foremost the wind industry, in which Denmark has several global players. For Specma, it mostly means the company’s large-scale Swedish industrial customers whose interests lie in Asia and the Americas. 

Expanding in China

In October 2016, Hydra/Specma took over the Chinese industrial company Etola China from Finland’s Etola Group, aiming to strengthen its presence in Asia. Etola China is a supplier of lubrication, cooling and filter systems for industrial gears and mining and of tubing and piping for water cooling, hydraulic oil and gear oil. The acquisition gave Hydra/Specma a much more complete product platform.

Today, Hydra/Specma has two factory sites in China, both strategically well located: one in Tianjin near Beijing, where several of the world’s leading wind turbine manufacturers have factory locations, and one in the Shanghai area, whose main business is hydraulics systems for marine cranes and trucks.

In addition to its operations in China, Hydra/Specma has full-scale production facilities in Poland and smaller production units in India, Brazil and the USA. The company’s platform is geared to serve both the Nordic and the global customer base, a capability that will be key to generating growth going forward.

Devising the formula for inherently responsible conduct

As a Nordic group, Hydra/Specma acts responsibly towards both internal and external stakeholders. This is a natural part of its corporate culture and its Nordic heritage. However, as its international activities continue to grow, so does its need to devise a formula for responsible conduct. To address this situation, Hydra/Specma is working on a number of corporate responsibility initiatives intended to ensure consistent and uniformly responsible conduct across the organisation. These efforts form an integral part of its ambitions for 2020: the company’s long-term growth strategy. The initiatives span areas such as human resources, health and safety, environment and climate, as well as special activities.

One of its HR initiatives is the ambition to attract more female employees to the group. Currently, about 20% of the staff are women, which for the hydraulics industry is quite a high number, and the company aims to increase this percentage in the years ahead.

Within health and safety, Hydra/Specma is working hard to set up a system for recording near accidents, whereas its efforts in the environment and climate field centre on reducing energy consumption by as much as 10% by 2020. This latter goal is measured per unit produced, so the target can be achieved even as activity levels rise. 

In the special activities category, Hydra/Specma is working to create a shared understanding of issues such as anti-corruption and business ethics among its almost 1,100 employees. Lastly, a Code of Conduct and quality manuals directed at its many subcontractors all over the world are also being prepared. All of these are natural steps to take for a Nordic business that is growing globally.

A more diversified approach

This was also the year when Hydra/Specma yet again enjoyed the benefits of being a diversified business. While activity levels in the marine, offshore and mining industries
remained low, the company’s business areas of lorries/buses and wind both saw strong growth.

In addition to the various industries Hydra/Specma is involved in, there are also geographical differences to consider. Industrial sector growth is strong in some parts of the world, but flattish in others. In late 2016, IEDRA, the Indian Economic Development & Research Association presented Hydra/Specma with the Fastest Growing Indian Company Excellence Award. India is a relatively new market for the group. In Europe, for example, the company’s Polish operations generated decent growth rates in 2016.

In 2017, Hydra/Specma intends to focus more on the parts of the business that are performing well and to give less attention to those industries or geographical areas that, for various reasons, may not be generating growth. This is the best way to capitalise on the benefits of being a global business with a presence in multiple industries.