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For us at H¿¿gan¿¿s, Maria Sophia was just the beginning

For us at H¿¿gan¿¿s, Maria Sophia was just the beginning
Yes, Thomas Stawford certainly played his part in founding what would become Höganäs AB, but did you know that it was the entrepreneur and businesswoman Maria Sophia de la Gardie who laid the foundations for mining operations at Höganäs back in the 17th century?
Seventeenth-century Sweden. The age of war and the Swedish Empire. We pass one million inhabitants, but are badly hit by the plague, failed harvests and famine. This is the century of Shakespeare, Cervantes and Galileo, but also of witch trials. One royal warship – Wasa – sinks, another one explodes and the royal palace in Stockholm is burnt to the ground. In Skåne, the pro-Danish guerilla movement fights to keep the region Danish, but fails.

Maria Sophia was little more than a child when she was married off at the age of sixteen. After bearing two children she lost her husband, and as a 22-year-old widow she became the administrator of her husband’s vast fortune and estates. As she never remarried, she avoided the guardianship that marriage otherwise meant for women at that time. So, she only had the scope and the conditions to develop as an entrepreneur after her husband’s death. A stroke of luck for Höganäs, perhaps?

Proprietor – and witch?

Maria Sophia ran a large number of businesses in the areas of agriculture and manufacturing, and following the purchase of Krapperup Castle she also became a mine owner. At this time mining was still a novelty in Sweden, and Maria Sophia was one of the first to realise that coal would not be profitable unless mining was rationalised and transport activities minimised. She therefore made sure that she obtained the monopoly to supply coal to the lighthouses on the south-west coast, to which the coal could be shipped quickly and easily by boat.

Maria Sophia was a strong, combative woman; this can be seen from the preserved letters that contain plenty of temperamental expressions and imaginative swear words. Like so many other strong women, she was accused of being a witch, but she avoided torture and execution. Today we call her Sweden’s first female entrepreneur, but it is possible that history will be revised even more. After all, we are now aware that historical descriptions should be viewed as an expression of the norms of the time, not as absolute truths.

Room for more women in Maria Sophia’s footsteps

Sadly, the Scanian War between Sweden and Denmark rendered mining operations impossible – the workers were called in for military service and Sophia Maria’s property was vandalised. It would not be until the late 18th century that Höganäsbolaget was formed and resumed coal mining on a large scale.

Operations in Höganäs have reflected their times, from the 17th century until the present day. In the past coal was mined here, then clay, and now we work with metal powders. And now we also realise that we achieve the best success if we make room for differences, which is why we aim to increase diversity at Höganäs.

Despite the fact that relatively few women work in the business – 15 per cent of employees are women – there are many role models for students and new employees, and they are just as strong as Maria Sophia. Group management now has two female members, and the same is true of the Board of Directors.

Caroline Larsson receives the H¿¿gan¿¿s Ulf Engstr¿¿m Award 2018

Caroline Larsson receives the H¿¿gan¿¿s Ulf Engstr¿¿m Award 2018
This year’s Ulf Engström Award was given to Caroline Larsson, who works with product management at Höganäs. The award is given to an individual working at Höganäs who has laid ground for a commercially successful development of the PM industry.
The jury cited Caroline’s outstanding technical market support work and her successful development and qualification of PM powders in their motivation.

Caroline Larsson received the Ulf Engström Award 2018 for her successful development and qualification of Astaloy® PMo, Distaloy® DC, Distaloy® DH, Distaloy® HP, Distaloy® AQ, Distaloy® ACu and the high precision toolbox for Fe+Cu+C mixes. Furthermore, she has contributed to development, qualification and launch of other PM powders, such as Starmix® 500i, Intralube® S and Intralube® HD. All of these products have played vital roles in Höganäs’ growth on the PM market and for increasing the volume of mixes sold.

Caroline received the award at the gathering dinner for the World PM 2018 exhibition in Beijing.

‘I feel surprised, moved and honored to win the prize in Ulf Engström’s name, our true powder pioneer. And that makes me feel proud’, Caroline says.

Caroline has been with the company for 30 years, starting with product development followed by sales and technical marketing. ‘I have also been in production and global supply so product management is really a way to wrap it up all together’, says Caroline.

‘During her many years at Höganäs, Caroline has given outstanding technical market support to Japan, USA during the time of Höganäs’ start-up in North America, and Europe’, the jury wrote. ‘With her deep knowledge and customer focus, she has contributed to many customers’ success.’

All the gathering dinner participants joined the award ceremony, and applauded Caroline’s achievement.

Facts about the Ulf Engström Award

Höganäs established the Ulf Engström Award in 2016 to encourage and recognize co-workers’ contributions to technical advancements and expanded commercial use of PM technology.

Turning metal powder into art

Turning metal powder into art
The artist Emille de Blanche has always been interested in new techniques and materials. Recently, she completed two major sculptures using high alloy powder from Höganäs.

“Throughout my career as an artist, I’ve been working with different materials. I like to experiment to really get to the heart of each material. The first time I used metal powder in my work, it was on a very small scale. But I wanted to do more, so I contacted Höganäs and here we are,” says Emille de Blanche, who lives and works in the Swedish capital of Stockholm.

So, the plant in Belgium shipped one hundred kilograms of high alloy powder to the Swedish artist for her new project. Through her previous work, Emille de Blanche has gained a lot of experience in working with steel to create large sculptures, but metal powder has a completely different structure. She describes it as much rawer.

“When I first received the metal powder I started to experiment. I mixed it with other materials, such as polystyrene and binders to see how they reacted together. Every material has its own qualities and the first experimental phase is very important. That’s when I investigate the limits and possibilities of each material,” says De Blanche.

The high alloy powder arrived in Stockholm in December 2017. After an initial period of investigating and ‘getting to know’ the powder, Emille de Blanche created two major pieces of art that were exhibited in Stockholm earlier this year. The sculptures will appear at Bromölla Konsthall (Bromölla Art Gallery) in the south of Sweden in early 2019, and later in Gothenburg.

“The sculpture I call ‘Split’ is a combination of steel and metal powder. It’s two metres high and the surface is a mix between the rawness of the powder and the slick steel. I’d like to keep on experimenting with metal powder,” says Emille de Blanche.

Ulrika Rask-Lindholm, head of Communications at Höganäs, says the company is delighted and excited to see high alloy powder being used in a totally different way.

“Höganäs didn’t hesitate to donate metal powder to Emille’s project. We want to be part of society and contribute in whatever way we can. Through this project, our metal powder is transformed into art pieces and will reach a lot of people who are unfamiliar with the material,” Rask-Lindholm says.

Text: Görrel Espelund
Photo: Robin de Blanche (portrait of Emille)

H¿¿gan¿¿s enters the ceramic market with the acquisition of H.C. Starck division

H¿¿gan¿¿s enters the ceramic market with the acquisition of H.C. Starck division
In March 2018, Höganäs acquired the H.C. Starck Group’s Surface Technology & Ceramic Powder division, STC, a leading producer and developer of non-oxide ceramic powders. Höganäs sees a bright future for its new business and aims to further develop its new portfolio.

'The acquisition of STC will successfully position Höganäs on the trajectory towards achieving its long-term strategy. STC’s extremely competent workforce, together with significant development capabilities will enable us to support our customers more and help them bring new applications to the market,' says Fredrik Emilson, CEO at Höganäs. Höganäs is the world leader of development and production of iron and metal powders.

To expand its portfolio, Höganäs acquired STC, a renowned manufacturer of high-quality surface technology, additive manufacturing and ceramic powders. STC offers one of the most extensive material portfolios in non-oxide ceramic powders specializing in boron, boride, carbide and nitride powders. Its high-quality products are utilized in various applications, such as clean energy technologies, technical ceramics or thermal management. In addition to its vast portfolio of standard grades, STC develops ceramic powders on a customer-specific basis.

'STC has a high performing production of ceramic powders of high quality and great value to the market. Additionally, STC has some very interesting key differentiators, such as being one of the leading boron producers or the only aluminum nitride producer outside Asia. We are convinced that the ceramics business will achieve a lot', says Hans Söderhjelm, Vice President Research and Development at Höganäs.

Höganäs will support the ceramic business with expertise from its research and development department. “I am happy that we now have a stronger support towards our needs regarding development and new applications. With Höganäs’ support we are now in the position to speed up the development of specific powders, for example for fillers for the thermal management industry. Additionally, we have a good chance to grow our market share of ceramic pastes for the solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) applications, to only mention some of the new opportunities we have “says Maria Teresa Suarez Martin, Director Sales and Product Management Advanced Ceramic Powders.

Magnus Eriksson new Chief Financial Officer at H¿¿gan¿¿s AB

Magnus Eriksson new Chief Financial Officer at H¿¿gan¿¿s AB
On 1 September, Magnus Eriksson takes up the position of Chief Financial Officer at Höganäs AB. He joins the company from Sandvik Hyperion, where he has been Vice President Finance & IT.
“We are absolutely delighted to welcome Magnus Eriksson to Höganäs,” says Fredrik Emilson, CEO. “Magnus has an extensive and solid experience of working in international groups of companies and heavy industry. This is the ideal background in view of the expansion phase that Höganäs is undergoing.”

Magnus Eriksson has held various senior positions in the areas of Finance and IT within Sandvik over 15 years, the last five of which with Sandvik Hyperion, based in the USA. Before that he was Vice President Finance & IT at Sandvik Hard Materials. Magnus has an MBA in International Economics from Lund University.

“With his passion for leadership issues and business development, Magnus will be a valuable addition to the Höganäs management team,” says Fredrik Emilson.

Magnus Eriksson takes up his position at Höganäs on 1 September.

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