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125 years of sharing culture

Up until the sell-off at the beginning of 1994, the big companies at Raufoss were part of the same group – Raufoss ASA. Over the following years, the companies which made up the park were partially sold to Norwegian and international owners. Nonetheless, there remains a strong culture of sharing within the park which is seen as a key factor in the success of its various enterprises.
“Knowledge today is so advanced that it’s simply not possible to be an expert in everything. Collaborating with experts in areas outside your own is now necessary in order to find good solutions today. This synergy does not come about by itself. It needs a culture where people from different disciplines and with different expertise can come together – share – and create a product which is better than the sum of its parts. In my view, that’s what is unique about Raufoss industry.” These are the words of park heavyweight and elder Jon Sandvik of SINTEF Manufacturing AS, who has followed the industry closely ever since 1982 and seen first-hand how companies which were once part of the group continue to collaborate around innovation and new technology.
“No matter whether you’re working within defense, the automotive industry, propane cylinders or brake couplings, at Raufoss there is great respect between enterprises. A respect grounded in the knowledge that it takes such incredible effort to succeed internationally at what you do. There is no fall-back Norwegian market, and failure is simply not an option,” emphasises Sandvik. This interdependence binds the companies and allows for investments in innovation, processes and material technology to be made back the line – far from market – even if there is a certain degree of competition on the end market. Together they can invest enough, but not alone.
Mutual respect
“At Raufoss, there is a mutual respect between the various strands of the organisations. All are important and there is a great deal of cohesion. People with academic expertise are on the same level as skilled workers with vocational qualifications. This respect for each other’s skills and what they bring to the process is, in my view, one of the reasons why development projects at Raufoss are efficient and successful to the degree that they are,” states Sandvik.
“Here in Norway, our mindset is a little different to what you find in the wider world. In many places, the culture is to do what the boss says and only that. But here in Norway, when the boss is away we can crack on and do things right, perhaps even better than before she left. It’s another mindset, you might say,” chuckles Sandvik with a glimmer in his eye, well aware that he is generalising but also that there is a grain of truth in what he says.

Coupling from ISIFLO

National competency centres
Given the deeply ingrained sharing culture at Raufoss, it is perhaps no surprise that many national manufacturing initiatives have come to Raufoss and that new companies are constantly popping up within the region’s eco-system. The Norwegian Centres of Expertise, the Manufacturing Technology Norwegian Catapult Centre, the Learning Factory and research institute SINTEF Manufacturing to name but a few. There is a culture of common investments through sharing, and so this becomes a natural place for further expertise sharing.
But Sandvik emphasises two important things: “we share because we believe we get something out of it, we’re not running a charity. Secondly, in order to be as good as we are, we all need to put resources into it. Everyone can participate within their area of expertise. More generally than the actual product as such. Money and knowledge.”

 A new generation of industrial workers 

Sharing as a part of our heritage
There has been a generational shift since the nineties when the park was a single group, but it is clear that the area’s innate culture of sharing is something that has been retained through new management. The culture sits deep within those who see its effect daily, and so it causes no great upset when skilled workers and engineers change employer from time to time – the fact is, their competencies remain and develop, to the benefit of all.
In this way, Raufoss Industrial Park has remained an active industrial environment with 2,500 employees and 50 companies which all share core competencies with one another. The result is a turnover of NOK 12 billion, 95% of which stems from exports to Europe leaving on 130 road trains per day.

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125 years of sharing culture
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