It is 5.45 am and Göran Sanfridsson is already working. Although he is the CEO of the family company’s operations, he likes to be involved in the practical work and does not hesitate to lend a hand with loading, unloading trucks and mechanical work.
“My brothers and I grew up in the countryside surrounded by trucks and drivers. It was always a dream to drive a truck as a boy and I used to nag my dad so I could go with him when he delivered milk in the village. I was a morning person even then,” Göran remembers with a smile.
The brothers’ father, Alf Sanfridsson, was initially a farm boy who needed to find a way to make a living when his brother took over the family’s farm. Coincidentally, a company called Gäsene Dairy opened a new distribution line and needed someone who could drive their morning milk deliveries. Alf decided to become a milkman and bought his first Volvo truck. Soon, he also had assignments to drive gravel in the afternoons and, as time went on, the number of customers increased. Alf, who was pleased with his truck from Volvo, could order more and more vehicles and employ more and more drivers. Over the years, his business grew with large customers like Herrljunga Cider, a well-known Swedish cider brand, and it changed from a small rural transport company to a modern service company with national reach.
Alf’s three sons were introduced to the business early and it was natural that they would take over after their father one day. When he retired in 2006, they had already worked for the company for several years and split the business between them in order not to get in each other’s way. The eldest son, Göran, is CEO, Mats runs the farm’s feed company, Ljungs foder, and youngest brother, Torbjörn, is transport manager. Dad Alf is happily retired but is still on hand for good advice.
“Our dad has been great at developing the company together with his customers and taking care of relationships with them. The same thing applies to the relations with our employees and with Volvo Trucks. Dad always reasoned that, if you get well taken care of, you choose to stay. It is one of the most important lessons my brothers and I have taken on from him,” says Göran.
Attracting and retaining talented staff has been central to Sanfridssons’ success. Reliable vehicles and a strong emphasis on traffic safety have been important parts of the jigsaw of retaining both personnel and customers.
“There are those who think that our family are real ‘Volvo loyalists’, but for us it’s all about the trucks working without unnecessary repairs. They are our tools and over the years we have covered a lot of miles in our Volvo trucks – plus our drivers have been very satisfied. So, we have never had a reason to change supplier,” explains Göran.
Consideration for the drivers has meant that several employees have stayed with the company for a large part of their professional lives. The driver who has been here longest – 34 years – is Svante Alexandersson. He is also the driver who drove the company’s first Volvo FH when the model was launched in 1993 and he still remembers how he and others felt about it back then.
It was always a dream to drive a truck as a boy and I used to nag my dad so I could go with him.
“Alf Sanfridsson had told me that I was getting a new truck. When the Volvo FH was delivered, it was something totally new and, since we were almost the only ones who had one at the beginning, we got a lot of attention; everyone’s heads turned when we drove it! I had that truck for twelve years before it eventually got a second life elsewhere,” he says.
Since then, Svante has driven another two generations of the Volvo FH and has been able closely to monitor how developments have moved forward. He believes that air suspension and the introduction of the I-Shift has saved his body from ruin, while electronic steering has been a great help when transporting trailers, as well as backing and unloading when making deliveries. He is particularly pleased with his latest Volvo FH16 550.
“The development of the Volvo FH has been fantastic. The steering wheel in this latest truck has completely new adjustment potential and so do the seats. The heating system works without hassle, the roof hatch lets in a good quality of light and the increased distance to the windscreen allows more air in the cab, so I feel better when driving. As for the bed, it’s the best one in a Volvo FH cab,” he says, adding:
“Here at Sanfridssons they take care of their staff. There has never been any doubt that us drivers should have the best equipment, such as sensible comfort packages for the cab. It is something you appreciate as an employee.”
Both Svante and Göran are also pleased with the Volvo engines. They have now been driving with a synthetic diesel, HVO, for two and a half years. With the help of this renewable fuel, Sanfridssons has been able to reduce its climate impact and Göran is closely following the development of new, sustainable drivelines for future transport. Environmental issues have always been close to the heart of the Sanfridsson family, who have grown up in the countryside among forests and fields. It is natural and obvious that they should take advantage, maintain resources and train their drivers in fuel efficiency.
The company’s trucks are also well taken care of and are often driven up to 1.2 million kilometres before being sold. Some of them have since travelled as far as Africa. A few years ago, Alf accidentally came across one of his old Volvo FH trucks while visiting Zambia. It had then been driving for a total of 3.4 million kilometres and the African driver and his two loading helpers were very proud of their truck, which still featured the Herrljunga Cider logo.
The development of the Volvo FH has been fantastic.
“They told me that the truck worked perfectly and that it hadn’t needed anything more than a normal service since it arrived. We think it’s amazing that our old Volvo FH trucks have been able to have such a long life in another part of the world,” says Göran Sanfridsson.
Established in: 1961
Owners: Göran, Mats and Torbjörn Sanfridsson.
Number of trucks: 37, of which 32 are Volvos.
Personnel: 58, of which 50 are drivers.
Main loads: Beverage, plastic pipes, concrete, wood, stone, spices.
Retention time (trucks): 8-10 years.
Large customers: Herrljunga Cider, Pipelife, Kryddhuset and others.
First Volvo FH: Bought in 1993. Sold in 2006.
Road safety certificate: Since 2015.