“Scanel’s success is a team effort”
In 1982, Ole Thue Hansen was ‘an ordinary electrician like everyone else’. In 1982, he got an interesting offer: to work offshore on oil and gas platforms in the Tyra field in the North Sea.
By 1991, Ole Hansen had years of specialist experience working offshore on oil and gas platforms, on ships and as a travelling electrician.
In 1991, he added a new area of expertise to his CV: company founder. He founded Scanel International A/S in August 1991. Number of employees: 1.
In August 2016, Scanel could celebrate its 25th anniversary. Number of employees: 300.
“It all really started with the offer to work offshore,” recalls Ole Hansen. “I went because it was an adventure. And it paid better!” Offshore work led to travelling commissions. In 1986, he was recruited to work on security lock-down systems at nuclear power plants in Sweden. In 1987, he bought in to Sæby company Nordic Offshore Elektro [NOE].
“The move to cruise ships happened when a customer approached me with an assignment. He said: ‘If you can carry out work on North Sea rigs then I assume you can carry out a job on a ship?’”
“’Of course we can,’ I said. And to this day, we never say ‘no’.” The first job was in Helsinki on a cargo ship that was being converted to a cruise ship. That led to enquiries for similar jobs in several countries. ‘It wasn’t long before we were the largest electrical supplier to Norwegian shipyards,’ Ole Hansen recalls.
In 1991, he decided to go it alone. “I sold my share of NOE, started Scanel and focused on ship installations. I was the only member of staff. Now there are more than 300 staff. I never imagined that back then.”
Not knowing every worker by name is the only ‘downside’ to Scanel’s success. “With over 300 staff and sites in different places, it’s not possible any more to know every single member of staff personally. That’s a pity, because I like knowing all the staff and stopping to have a chat.”
He was joined in 2001 by co-owner Palle Thordal Lavrsen, previously Managing Director of Semco Marine. “The company had been growing all along. Then when Palle joined me, we really developed it together. It grew very rapidly from 2001.”
To this day, the two share an office. “We’ve never fallen out, not once,” says Ole Thue Hansen. “We’re very different, and we can have different opinions, but we’ve never had an argument.”
In 2014, the owners appointed Claus Søgaard Poulsen CEO . “Claus has exactly the same background as I have,” says Ole. “He’s been an apprentice, an electrician, then started his own one-man company that grew to employ hundreds of people, and now he’s CEO of Scanel.”
It is a big advantage for company management to have hands-on experience, he believes. “We know what the work actually involves,” he says. He does resist the temptation to ‘interfere’ by grabbing a screwdriver while on-site, though. “I’m allowed to do that at home instead.”
Ole Hansen credits all staff, old and new, with the company’s success. “It is a team effort. We are proud of our hard-working, skilled staff.” As Scanel celebrates its 25th anniversary, he is also proud of the company’s apprenticeship programme.
“We value our apprenticeship programme. We have 16 apprentices at a time in our electrical, electronic and electromechanical departments. They get a specialist education and we get future staff who are trained to the highest standard.”
“Some of our most experienced staff today started as apprentices with us. Some apprentices go on to specialize even further. For example, our Design & Engineering department just recently employed a newly graduated electrical engineer who left to do his degree after completing an electromechanical apprenticeship with us.”
Ole and Palle are also proud of the fact that Scanel is loyal to the community, including through sponsorship programmes, and that it has a great reputation as a valued employer.
“We are holding an anniversary party for the staff,” says Ole Hansen. “Hundreds of staff are coming, travelling to Frederikshavn from sites all over the country. We’re delighted that so many of them want to be part of the celebrations, because we’ve made the company a success together.”