“Building an increasingly diversified portfolio has served us well. 2020 ended far better than expected,” says Bent-Ståle Johansen.

A long-standing CEO of Tratec Norcon, Johansen recently took over as CEO of the entire Tratec Group, which also includes Tratec Halvorsen, Tratec Teknikken, Tratec AS Elektrisk and Tratec Solutions.

The companies are mainly located in the Agder region, and can be summarized as suppliers of electrical, piping, automation and mechanical disciplines to the industry sector, offshore, infrastructure, construction and also households.

“Serving several industries and markets has been a good strategy, especially in 2020, which proved to be such a difficult year for many. I think we handled the corona crisis in a good way, both with regards to human resources and financials. Our 2020 figures are positive, and all of our companies have a solid order backlog for 2021,” says Johansen.

MAJOR SUPPLIER TO OIL AND GAS
For many years, some of the Tratec companies were major suppliers to the oil and gas industry. However, following the oil price collapse in 2014, just about the same time that Johansen joined Tratec Norcon, oil and gas became a marginal market. This sudden change necessitated a strategical turnaround for parts of the group, including Tratec Norcon.

“In Tratec Norcon we embarked on a journey to transform the company from a major oil and gas supplier to become a strong supplier of automation systems to the road infrastructure sector. We have been successful in doing this, and today road infrastructure is a larger market for Tratec Norcon than the oil and gas sector ever was,” says Johansen.

RESTRUCTURING PROCESS
He took over as CEO of Tratec when founder and majority owner William Willumsen stepped down. Willumsen is still active as the Chairman of the Board of Directors.

“We were very pleased to recruit internally. Bent-Ståle has done a great job in our restructuring process. He knows the Tratec group very well and we know him, says Willumsen.

Bent-Ståle Johansen has lived most of his life in Kristiansand. He has a master’s degree in material technology and another one in technology management. Prior to joining Tratec Norcon, Johansen was CEO of Schibsted Trykk Kristiansand and Schibsted Trykk Stavanger.

“I thrive at Tratec, in large thanks to good colleagues who have invaluable experience and strong expertise. Going forward, we will continue to promote management and employees in each company, and constantly look for new collaboration opportunities,” says Johansen.

STRATEGIC ACQUISITIONS
Since its inception in 1996, Tratec has made several strategic acquisitions. The latest came in August when Roxel Energy in Stavanger was acquired and merged with Tratec Agdermaskin under the company name Tratec Solutions.

“Roxel Energy has a good foothold in two exciting segments of the logistics market, namely parcel handling in post terminals and baggage handling systems at airports,” says Johansen.

“Logostics is an exciting market for Tratec Solutions, but also for Tratec Norcon which complements the mechanical logistics solutions we design at Forus by delivering control and monitoring systems. This enables us to offer complete product packages. We recently established an automation department in Stavanger, and we have already hired our first engineer here,” says Johansen.

Tratec Solutions is also a leading third-party supplier within overhaul, parts and service of offshore rigs and drilling equipment, and is currently experiencing increased demand. In addition, Tratec Halvorsen is heavily involved in the giant project Jotun FPSO, the production ship that is now being refurbished at the Rosenberg shipyard in Stavanger.

“The offshore market is important for the Tratec Group today and will be for several years”, says Johansen.

The United Nations lists 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Norwegians seem to forget most of them.

“Norwegians talk a lot about electric vehicles, waste management and cutting emissions, as counter measures to climate change. We almost never talk about access to clean water, food and electricity, which is essential for the well-being of so many people around the world.”

Sunnva Hylen is a civil engineer at CAN Systems and a member of the GCE NODE reference group Sustainability & Climate Action. She is eager to combat climate change but reminds us that the UN Sustainable Development Goals cover much more than that.

“All members of the GCE NODE cluster have a responsibility for sustainable development. But we need to see that it expands beyond reducing carbon dioxide emissions. I have worked globally my entire career and have seen the real struggle in many parts of the world. It is about fighting poverty, not climate change,” says Hylen.

CONFLICTED AND LINKED
CAN Systems in Arendal was established in 2015 and specializes in offshore mooring solutions for gas terminals, fish farms, floating windmills and other floating objects. Hylen and seven other engineers are the only employees in the company.

“You can definitely say that we are very flexible engineers, covering a lot of areas and with collaborative partners all over the world. And three out of the eight are actually female civil engineers. That is unusual in the oil and gas industry,” she says proudly.

Two of CAN Systems’ projects are mooring systems for floating LNG terminals in Bangladesh and El Salvador, two of the world’s poorest nations. The terminals provide electricity to people who live in poverty. Hylen explains that in these countries many of the sustainable development goals are both conflicted and closely linked.

“Combating poverty does not always go hand in hand with combating climate change – and vice versa. The least developed countries must rise their standard of living before they are even able to take climate action. The current project in El Salvador will meet 30 percent of the country’s electricity demand. This is essential in providing people with an opportunity to live a better life. LNG also represents a cleaner energy production as it replaces coal and heavy fuel oil. I believe this illustrates some of the conflicts and dilemmas well,“ says Hylen.

A PUSH IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Hylen clearly states that the UN Sustainable Development Goals should concern the smaller companies, such as CAN Systems, but points at a difficult balancing act.

“Larger companies can establish their own sustainable initiatives, whereas the smaller companies must accept the opportunities that already exists within their niche of expertise. Our collaborative partners, the market and the potential clients defines what kind of assignments we get. For many smaller companies this is a dilemma and a reality at the same time,” says Hylen.

She is pleased to see that most of the projects they work on contribute to both combating climate change and increasing living standards in countries where electric vehicles and waste management is not likely to make the priority list for years to come.

“Eventually CAN Systems need to take on a stronger position on sustainable development. That is also why I volunteered for the reference group Sustainability & Climate Action. All members of GCE NODE need a little help and a push in the right direction. Together we may find solutions to the dilemmas we meet facing sustainable development as a corporate responsibility. We cannot sit in Norway and expect the rest of the world to think like we do,” concludes Hylen.

In compliance with new Covid-19 restrictions, GCE NODE has rescheduled or cancelled a series of March events.

“We will of course comply with any local and regional guidelines and restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic. We are sorry we have to postpone and cancel these events, but in the current situation it is the responsible thing to do,” says Tom Fidjeland, CEO of GCE NODE.

These events are postponed or cancelled:
Praktisk prosjektlederkurs: Part one (out of two parts) will take place in Arendal on April 13-14.

Inbound Marketing: April 27

Offshore anskaffelseskontrakter – Arendal: Cancelled

Offshore anskaffelseskontrakter – Kristiansand: Cancelled