Swedish Lapland: Little but Fierce

Piteå

Population: 42,000

Our class was fortunate enough to visit a few companies during our stay in Norrbotten and so we started off our tour with the only tannery in the world that utilizes spruce bark to color their leather products, Bōle. Bōle has passed down the company business and production traditions generation after generation which was very clearly depicted through their craft and quality of work.

Bōle utilizes its Swedish natural landscape which is covered in spruce trees to create its competitive advantage. By not having to import bark from another supplier or country and by utilizing this specific type of bark, Bōle sets itself apart from its competition (other producers utilize oak). Their products undergo a lengthy process (1 year to dye leather), are handmade and often times are made to order. In order to yield the most profit, Bōle produces larger products such as briefcases and backpacks that have been made for royalty. Their sales are mostly outside of Sweden and they rely heavily on the internet to spread the word about their products. They definitely showed us that they are one of a kind.

I addition to a tannery, we visited the following companies: Fortlax (data center), Science Park (business development & education) and the Mayor of Piteå.

Luleå

Population: 76,000

The companies that we visited in Luleå included: Compodium (secure video conferencing), Arctic Group (telecommunications), Science Park, BehaviorSec (biometrics/behavioral monitoring) and we also got to meet with the Mayor of Luleå.

All together, these companies had a common theme which was “stronger together”. The Swedish culture shined through each company. There was always a link back to collaboration and “flat” hierarchical internal structures.  This concept was embraced and credited for each companies’ successes.

Who knew that a a couple little towns in Norrbotten would have such a big influence in Sweden?