When I cycle to Garantell in the mornings, I pedal through a typical Småland landscape (if you’re curious about Småland, open a book by Astrid Lindgren: our national hero and Pippi Longstocking’s mom). Astrid Lindgren’s descriptions of the Småland landscape are still accurate today: forests, gravel roads, cows feeding in pastures, red cottages with white trim, all accompanied by birdsong. Foxes and deer are frequently spotted, and if you hear a loud crack and crash in the forest, it’s guaranteed to be a moose or wild boar. I also cycle alongside Lake Vidöstern and, if I’m lucky, I see a naked Smålander enjoying a morning dip. For us Swedes, a morning dip is quite natural, but my colleagues have said to me that it’s a quintessentially Swedish thing to do. So what is a morning dip? Basically, you get out of bed and go down to the lake (wearing a bathrobe if you have neighbours, naked if you don’t). In Småland, the lakes are placid and dark, and an early morning swim in the light of dawn is something absolutely amazing that I hope you all get the chance to experience at some point.
When I open the door to Garantell, I leave Småland behind and enter a melting pot of diverse cultures. I find it fascinating each and every morning to be able to greet all these wonderful people from across the globe. In the Sales department, we fluently speak 17 languages, and the number of different cultures is roughly the same. This is Garantell, and it’s fantastic. Cultural clashes are a daily occurrence. I sometimes hear that Swedes are quiet, introverted, and difficult to approach. What happens then when we meet Spaniards with their lively gesticulations, the French and their delicious food, the Italians with their own olive oil, the diplomatic Belgians, Germans who cherish precision and structure, hospitable Hungarians, humble Greeks, and friendly Polish? We can certainly get annoyed with one another and we’re not psychologists, but because we are Garantell we share a culture in which acceptance and understanding are paramount. We’re here to make things simpler for each other, which means we have to continuously improve how we communicate and listen.
You are probably wondering now how all of these cultures ended up in Värnamo and why a Swedish company with offices in remotest Småland employs so few Swedish-born? Of course the people I employ can be from Sweden, as long as they are service-minded, go the extra mile for our customers and have the right language skills.
We exist to make everyday life easier for YOU, our customers. To do so, we must be able to speak your language, and we also believe that by understanding your culture there will be less friction. Since you, our customers, are located across Europe, we have employed sales representatives who speak your languages fluently and who often share your nationality. I’m sure you are wondering what drives someone to move to the cold North with its introverted inhabitants. It’s usually because of love. Most of our foreign-born sales reps have Swedish spouses or partners. Although, some of our employees basically closed their eyes, pointed their fingers at the map and ended up in Sweden. After moving here they heard that Garantell desperately required language proficiencies, which made applying for a job with us an obvious choice.
You’re probably wondering why we don’t do the same thing as every other company and establish a subsidiary in the countries we want to operate in. We honestly believe that in order to simplify your everyday life, you need fast service and the best solutions. We think we can best provide this if our sales reps are located close to our development department. Together, they can create optimal solutions for you, while also learning from each other and developing in their roles.
When I pedal home in the evening, the morning bathers have given way to swimming children, with the aromas of barbecues emanating from backyards. It makes me realise how privileged we are to be able to see each other every day at Garantell, share our perspectives, and discuss the things we can do to give you even better service.