Thomas MalmborgThomas Malmborg was nearly born to the new position after his many years of living and breathing Kalmar products and service. Malmborg came on board Kalmar in 1989 as Head of the Training Centre in Sweden, and his 28 years of experience which includes service in Africa and his appointment as Vice President, Forklift Trucks in 2006, made him a natural fit to move into the Senior Vice President, Services slot. He was, in a sense, to the manor born.

“I can honestly say that not even one day have I gone to work and thought it was boring. I’ve been privileged to work with great people and colleagues, and it’s been a pleasure to get to work with the entire process from product development to the sale and then re-sale with the same customer,” he says.

Changes ahead

When Malmborg joined Kalmar in 1989, the world, and Kalmar, un-wired and Internet-free, looked different.

“It was clear that we were a product-centred engineering company. We were excellent at understanding our customers’ needs and developing products that met them,” Malmborg says.

But times change, and companies along with the changing times.

“Naturally, we’ve changed our focus to include service, too, but we’re still product oriented in our thinking.”

That is changing. Traditionally, service has meant the maintenance and preparation of the vehicles, but in the 21st century, automatisation and greater intelligence in the machines has changed the nature of the products – and the service that customers require.

Malmborg says, “We have to figure out a new business model for this. In the future, we can tweak the performance and make sure parts get changed before there’s a breakdown. Whether that business model is based on subscriptions to digital services remains to be seen. Traditionally, our customers have paid a fixed rate, but that may also be part of changes to come.”

Service is part and parcel to Kalmar from design to delivery

Services is a strong focus area for Kalmar as it moves to become a true service-driven company. Expanding services to offer a full complementary package with its outstanding engineering and automation solutions is seen as the way of the future to keep Kalmar a major global player in this highly competitive and quick-changing industry.

Malmborg stands at the crossroads of a new, fast-paced digital world and the still slow to change corporate culture. His task is to choose the right path to mesh the fast-changing high tech digital world with a quicker on their feet corporate adaptability.

“Our customers must feel that their needs are at the heart of our operations.”  Thomas Malmborg, Senior Vice President, Services

“We have been very good at service, in the traditional way, and we would not be where we are today without great service, but now we’ll have to make it a bigger focus of our offering. We know that people in service functions already have that mind-set, and we know that they are good at it, but we have to make sure that everyone understands that service is now part of the entire chain from design to procurement to marketing, and understand that we can get even better at that. Our customers must feel that their needs are at the heart of our operations.”  

Differentiating with service isn’t easy, notes Malmborg, but it is necessary.

“Imitating our service and understanding the customer is difficult - imitating our products is easier. Also, our competitors are constantly working to improve their service as well,” Malmborg says.

“It takes a lot of work to make sure that we have a service culture in place. The important thing is that we have people with the right attitude and the willingness to develop better service. It won’t be a quick fix. It will take time – even years – before we know if our efforts have borne fruit and we have succeeded in our goals.”