The company, whose head office is in Umeå, has changed owners several times, which led to operational hiccups. Ten years ago the Japanese firm Komatsu entered the picture and since then has invested for the long term in product development and quality.
“We’re now seeing the effects,” Hasselryd says. “We’ve recently begun launching a new harvester range with four new models.”
He says the owners have realised that Sweden is their domestic market. More forwarders and harvesters are sold here than anywhere else in the world. As a result, the Swedish sales company was merged with the head office in order to streamline the decision-making process.
The statistics for 2014 reveal a better market than in 2013. Sales rose from 257 to 301 machines, an increase of just over 17 percent. Komatsu Forest grew more than the market as a whole, from 63 to 101 forwarders – a 60 percent increase!
Komatsu’s main competitor and previous market leader, John Deere, had 94 new forwarder registrations in Sweden, the same number as in 2013. Komatsu also grew in Finland, where it overtook John Deere to become number two after Ponsse.
Ponsse increased its sales in Sweden from 28 to 41 forwarders and is now in third place. Rottne sold four more machines for a total of 34. Other manufacturers also saw small increases. EcoLog fell from 19 to 11 newly registered forwarders.
Total sales are far below the best years, which is usually explained by saying that the machines have become larger and more efficient. But there is another reason. Demand is increasing for small forwarders, which are not registered by the Swedish Transport Agency.
“Our sales grew by 130 percent in 2014,” says Magnus Wallin, founder of the machine manufacturer Malwa. “At the same time there was a shift in the type of customers. Before, self-employed forest owners were in the majority but now it is forest contractors.”
He estimates that in 2014 about 100 small forest machines were sold in Sweden. This means that the total market is considerably larger than is revealed by the Swedish Transport Agency’s statistics. Wallin also has a theory about the market’s direction:
“The forestry companies are competing internationally and have to control their costs, so the machines are constantly getting bigger and more efficient. But the companies are forgetting about the landowners, who believe other things are more important than the net conversion value. These owners are increasingly expressing their opinions about what machines should be used. They’re also more prepared to pay extra, for instance to reduce ground damage. This seems to be what’s now driving the market for smaller machines.”
“A long-term owner who dares to invest.” Sales manager Peter Hasselryd says that’s why Komatsu has overtaken John Deere and is the new leader of the forwarder market in Sweden.
New forwarder registrations in Sweden
||2014, Market Share
||2013, Market Share
Source: Transportstyrelsen/Swedish transport agency