Alutec – the success story behind Norway’s best-selling scaffolding
Two brothers, Knut-Jarle and Espen Aspenes, founded Alutec in 1986 with the goal of focusing on scaffolding. Espen came straight from military service, while ten year older Knut-Jarle already had a few years of experience within the industry. Timing and coincidence made it work, they say.
Today, they can thank anything but chance for their success as an industrial company in Norway. They have been good at turning around and developing their products, have had a close dialogue with their customers and have been early with approvals and certifications. In doing so, they have remained current and preferred among both professional and private scaffolding users.
Jamax scaffolding system is Norway’s best-selling scaffolding.
Alutec currently has 30 employees divided into production, administration, warehousing and sales at Os south of Bergen, as well as warehouse and sales in Kristiansand. The family business is owned 50/50 by the two brothers, who share the duties and the position of general manager.
“We need competent people who make demands on us. It is important that we are kept an eye on, and are kept accountable. We shouldn’t think that we know best”, says general manager Espen.
The family is in minority on the board, which they believe is important in order to be forward-looking and constantly chart the course ahead.
“If the same people are discussing, it goes in circles. The board asks questions and looks at the company’s best interests. The need for expertise changes over time, so the board positions are also rotational”, Knut-Jarle adds.
Went for robots early
“When we got our first robot in 1999, we didn’t yet realize how crucial it was going to be. We wanted to try to simplify things, keep up with the times and make things smarter and better,” says Espen.
The 1999 veteran is still in use, but is nearing replacement, and it will eventually have to let the younger ones in to ensure further automation. The successors arrived in 2014, 2018 and 2022. The robot park now consists of a total of 6 robots, which together contribute to a better working environment with less manual welding and more consistent and good quality
“If you want to be efficient and keep Norwegian jobs, you have to work efficient and smart. The competing products are imported from Europe, China and the Philippines”, Knut-Jarle points out.
Staying in Norway
Ability to deliver
For Alutec, it is important to be able to deliver, so they have not made themselves dependent on imports. One of their competitive advantages is that they control almost the entire value chain; purchasing, manufacturing, warehousing, sales, marketing and delivery to the end customer.
“When you buy Jamax, it includes personal service, fast delivery time, high quality, good function and unproblematic warranty. In addition, you are helping support Norwegian industry and Norwegian jobs”, says Espen.
Preferred first choice
Alutec aims to be the safe, robust and preferred supplier for those looking for scaffolding. More than 14,000 customers spread across the country confirm that they are largely able to do this, not least when the largest building materials chains come to them to collaborate on selling Jamax because customers demand it.
“We have managed to build a good reputation over time, and then good products must be the foundation. We promise no more than we can keep. What we say, we can always keep. We always keep in mind that our customers are our bosses”, Knut-Jarle explains.
Approved training company
“We are helping to train skilled workers for the future. As of now, we have one TAF apprentice (technical general studies). He has been here for four years and will get his certificate this spring”, says Espen.
Alutec accepts apprentices as needed for recruitment purposes.
The story starts with the forerunner from 1969
Jamek scaffolding was the starting point
The forerunner of Alutec, Jamek, dates back to 1969. They produced clothes drying racks, ladders and flagpoles, and were one of the pioneers of scaffolding from 1970 to 1986. Knut-Jarle had been hired as CFO of Jamek, where their father also worked.
The two had observed that scaffolding did not get its deserved attention in Jamek. When Espen came from military service in 1986, the brothers founded Alutec. At first they imported roller scaffolding, stairs and ladders from the Netherlands, but the company only gained momentum when they were able to buy the rights and drawings for Jamek’s scaffolding system a year later. Jamax became Norway’s first type-approved scaffolding in 1990.
In 1994, what had first started with two brothers on asphalt floors in a corner of a lumber warehouse – and then turned into a room with space for one man, a saw and a welding apparatus and with the office located in a construction barracks on the outside – got its first employees and its own production at today’s location. This was the old factory of Jamek, Alutec’s forerunner, and thus the ring was closed.
In 2016, the Kristiansand department opened and in 2017 Jamax became Norway’s first SINTEF-certified scaffolding.