WAN-IFRA: When did you begin working in the industry?
Thomas Sandström: My first contact with the newspaper business was as a seller. I used to deliver newspapers. Later, I met two newspaper printers in the city (Umeå, Sweden), which led to my employment as a printer. So, if you only look at the years in the printing industry, it is probably 39 years in various positions.
How does your company tackle the paper challenges?
My business has been hit with extremely high paper prices for a few years. Luckily, the prices seem to be coming down now. We have reduced surface weights on paper, and assignments with low page count is reducing.
Is your market facing difficulties in distribution?
On the distribution side, we are forming a new company which, in addition to newspapers, will broaden other distribution and hopefully also expand an existing package distribution business.
How is your company attracting new talents?
In northern Sweden, industrial development is very strong, which makes it difficult to recruit qualified personnel. So far, we have succeeded by having a good job offers and investments in working environment.
What was your recent technology/hardware investment, and why?
We have invested in colour control and register control systems from DCOS to save wastepaper. We have also made – and will make – large investments in energy savings. The most recent investment was a new cooler compressor.
What issues have been irking you and affecting your business lately? How are you overcoming it?
The main concern is within the print assignments. The strongly fluctuating electricity prices make it difficult to budget costs for the assignments.
How do you source your inks?
The printing inks we use come from Germany and we currently have no plans to change it. Our previous attempts with vegetable inks failed, but we will follow surely look for new developments and consider changes to the printing chemistry as and when needed.
Technology and user preferences have changed. Is the newspaper printing industry adapting to these changes, or is it just catching up?
We are trying to elevate our environmental work. With good logistics and electrification of the distribution trucks, we are looking at ways to reduce the environmental impact in the long run and reduce our costs.
Sustainability is a catchphrase these days. In the past one year, what was your significant move towards sustainability?
We believe that those who choose a print product with an environmental label would not feel climate anxiety but understand that the newspaper is a good source of information and a climate-smart choice. These experiences contribute to sustainable publication of print.
What is a piece of advice that you would like to share with your friends in the industry?
I believe that newspaper printers that are in operation today have already done a great job of keeping up and restructuring the business. So, my advice is to keep continuing it and be responsive and flexible. I hope we will see each other perhaps at the World Printers Summit in Frankfurt this fall.
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