With 50-plus years of supporting the music business, Danish haulier Lars Stokholm has grown his company, Stokholm Transport, from a single truck to having an international presence, working with some of the world’s biggest artists in the process.
Question: What do Tina Turner, Rod Stewart and Abba have in common? Besides the obvious, they have all, in one way or another, employed the services of Lars Stokholm. Born and bred in the center of Copenhagen, from modest beginnings as a stagehand in the Danish capital, Stokholm has grown his haulage company into a major player in the Scandinavian music scene and beyond.
Stokholm always had a taste for adventure. Even as a young boy he was rarely far from the side of his father, who was a dispatcher in a trucking company, so there was a sense of inevitability that he would one day follow in his footsteps. Starting with a dream and an iron-clad will to succeed, he steadily built up a company on his own: and today, he has a business with a fleet of some 150 trucks.
Over the years, Stokholm has built a long-term mutually beneficial relationship with Volvo Financial Services, who have helped turn his dreams into reality.
“It has always gone really well, and things have been very smooth with Volvo Financial Services,” he says. “One of the reasons we started using them was because of the direct link they have with Volvo Trucks (which now accounts for around 90% of his fleet)” he says. “We, as a company, try to be easy to talk to, and we feel the same about VFS. We have a good relationship and have confidence in each other. If I order 10 new trucks, I know it will be straightforward and hassle-free.”
We have a good relationship and have confidence in each other. If I order 10 new trucks, I know it will be straightforward and hassle-free.
VFS country manager Jens Mac Larsen and territory manager Peter Søndergaard have known Lars since the early 1990s, so both sides can lean on a mutual sense of trust. Lars appreciates the industry expertise the Volvo staff can offer, as well as the ease with which agreements can be drawn up and administered. Lars himself jokes that he barely has to look over the exact financials when they are discussing a new sale. He relies on the fact that he knows he is dealing with Volvo Financial Services staff who know the industry inside-out, as well as his business.
“It has always been a pleasure to do business with Lars,” adds Søndergaard. “For Volvo Financial Services, one of our key points is ’ease of business,’ and I really believe that we make it easy to buy Volvo products with our offerings.”
That ease and flexibility are things Lars says he has come to value more and more over the years when growing his business. Realizing that it could be risky to put all his eggs in one basket, he split the company early on into the music touring side, that’s heavily weighted to the summer months, and other activities that keep his vehicles occupied throughout the year.
That strategy would pay off during the pandemic, as it meant that while the touring side tailed off dramatically, the company had other legs to stand on. In the end, Stokholm Transport A/S and the other parts of the business managed to stay afloat without making losses.
Now, as Lars looks ahead to the future, he would like to keep the firm in the family for a while longer, at least. His son, Jakob, has been part of the business the whole of his life. Lars recalls fondly having him in the truck as a very young boy, like he did with his own father. Jakob currently has a COO role, while Lars also has his wife Dorthe by his side in the office, in the accounts department, making it a true family business.
Like many who have grown their own businesses though, he can’t imagine how it would be to leave it behind, he says. “I thought I’d retire at 40! I don’t think I’ll ever retire really, but I’d like to slow down and have more holidays, as I’ve got a daughter in the U.S. and grandchildren now, so I’d like to have more time with them.”
How he’ll find that time, who knows. But having safely steered the business through pandemics and economic downturns over his long tenure, you can’t help feeling that when Lars Stokholm does eventually hang up his driving gloves and settle down for retirement, he’ll make a good job of it!
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