Expert views 3 min

Making adventuring easier

An interview with Fredrik Erlandsson, senior vice president of communications, and IR Pontus Alexandersson, director of suitability at Thule, the Swedish leader in recreational equipment.
Making adventuring easier
Making adventuring easier

In a few words, what is Thule's story ?

Like many others, our group started out as a family-run business. In 1942, Erik Thulin, a true nature lover, came up with the idea of creating a trap for catching pike. It instantly found success among the many Scandinavian fishermen. As society started putting increased emphasis on leisure, nature activities and outdoor sports in the 1960s, the company began moving its business towards products aimed at the automobile market. The idea was to design objects helping users to more easily transport their equipment. Thus, the first ski rack was designed in 1962. Riding on the wave of a growing market, the group continued to develop and grow, namely by exporting its products to many countries in Europe, the United States and Japan.

We are currently the world leader in our segment and our objective has remained the same: we manufacture objects aimed at making people's lives easier as regards transportation and travel. The objects must be safe, secure, ergonomic and beautifully designed. It's our motto!

What are the keys to your success ?

We are currently a major player and we strive to retain that status. From a strategic point of view, we do everything possible to strengthen our position. With the Thule brand, we are continuously developing products aimed at meeting the transport needs of athletes and adventurers. Our motto is to make life easier. We do everything possible to stay true to our motto. We try to always have an edge over our competitors. For instance, we launched our first roof box in 1977 and we have remained the world's leading manufacturer of roof boxes despite fierce competition. It is certainly not a coincidence! Our current models are built on forty years of research and constant improvements. Our bike racks, kayak carriers and our strollers have an excellent reputation for durability, their usefulness, and their elegant design. And we continue to diversify our product lines without forgetting our motto. We are currently developing cases and protective bags for electronic devices (cameras, tablets, etc.).

Plastics are a major part of the articles that you produce. Is this due to economic reasons or their ability to adapt to any design imaginable ?

We do use many plastics, but they are not the only materials that go into our products. We use aluminium and steel too. We have high quality standards as we believe that our products are made to last. But that's not all, because we also aim to provide unmatched safety. For instance, we could not sell a pushchair that could endanger children or sell a roof box that could spring open at any time. This is why the materials used in our processes are tested extensively during the design and development stages. The same goes for the metals and the polymers, such as the polyamides, the polypropylenes and the ABS that makes up the major part of our products. We also believe that a durable product is necessarily environment-friendly as it will not be thrown out after a season or two.

Are you involved in research on new polymers ?

Yes, we have very close ties with our suppliers with whom we actively work. We are currently looking to develop new polymers that are more environmentally-friendly. We are also working on recycled plastics with the same requirements. Some of our products, such as the bike racks, are already being made with such materials. We believe that safeguarding the planet is extremely important, and we believe that using recycled materials helps to reduce the environmental impact of products in general.

Speaking of which, what is your environmental policy ?

We seek to develop our products while reducing our impact on the environment as much as possible, and we strongly believe that this is a necessary approach. Our products are targeted at people who love nature and who want a healthy lifestyle. Our job is to provide them with the means to do so. This is why we are very vigilant and constantly analyse our products' lifecycles. This entails analysing our suppliers' processes, as well as our own energy and water consumption. Our reputation is at stake.

 

MORE INFORMATION

For more information on the test: 
http://www.thule.com/en/gb/about-thule/thule-test-center

For more information on the environmental policy:
http://www.thulegroup.com/en/our-approach

 

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