Hugo Jönsson founded Polykemi on March 1, 1968. The company’s mission was to manufacture and sell custom-designed plastic compounds to Scandinavian plastics consumers, as it still is, though the entire world is now our market.
Polykemi through the history.
On December 10, 1968, the 14 people involved to date in the construction project celebrated at the Fenix Restaurant in Ystad. The final bill for the evening was SEK 897, though the food only cost SEK 189; liquid refreshments accounted for the difference. Need we add that spirits were high that night!
Dramatic events unfolded in 1973. The Arab governments declared an oil embargo mainly aimed at the United States. Raw material prices for plastics skyrocketed by nearly 500%, which translated to a healthy profit from our sizeable inventory. Our business ties enabled us to make good deals which, unlike most parts of industry, allowed full employment throughout the oil crisis. Our sales soared by about 100% and our profit margin was the highest ever.
A history without difficulties or failures would hardly be complete. August 13, 1975, is a black date in the history of the company. A fire broke out that wiped out more than 75% of production and inventory. With the wholehearted commitment of our employees, who worked in production round the clock for almost four months after the fire, it was possible to convert an impending closure into growth.
In 1980 our subsidiary Rondo Plastic was created in an effort to separate Polykemi from plastic recycling. At that time it was erroneously believed that all manufactured plastic materials came from recycling, which of course was incorrect. Now a separate company could process our plastic waste, as well as waste from other customers, for refinement purposes.
As part of the company’s objective to always become even better—if you stop getting better, you stop being good—the Going for Gold project began in 2005. Together we formulated our vision statement for the future of Polykemi. We established six interim goals and in 2009 we will reach goal number five.
Wellness is what we do to feel better, avoid illness, have more energy and live longer. The company benefits from healthy employees, but it is even more important for us all to enjoy good mental health. Job satisfaction is good for production. In 2005 Polykemi opened a well equipped gym for its employees.
In 2008 Polykemi had its 40th anniversary. We celebrated with an open house on August 28 for invited guests, who later in the afternoon continued with a customer seminar with several interesting lectures. The day was capped with a banquet for our guests, who enjoyed excellent food, entertainment and a festive atmosphere. Earlier, all employees and their families had been invited to a grand family celebration, including a tour of the factory followed by games, magic, contests and many other enjoyable activities.
Hugo Jönsson, the founder of Polykemi, was born in the village of Ingelstorp east of Ystad. He began his career at Persöner, the at the time largest company in Ystad. There he advanced to deputy manager of the textile recycling department. In his own book, My own story, which he wrote after his retirement, does he recount how he proposed for the management of Persöner to close the textile department and to grow in the field of plastics. The answer was a short no.
Hugo Jönsson didn’t give up his idea, borrowed money and founded Polykemi 1968. A few years later did the company expand outside the borders of Ystad and Sweden. Today Polykemi have approximately 250 employees with foreign subsidiaries in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany and China and with agents or distributors in 7 countries. The subsidiaries Rondo Plast (recycling) and Scanfill (packaging compounds) are both located in Ystad. The plant in China was opened in 2007 and Hugo Jönsson was instrumental in the process for establishing Polykemi in the Chinese market, as it was his conviction that it was necessary for Polykemi to be present there.
During the 70-ties did Polykemi enjoy a substantial positive growth. Despite a devastating fire in 1975 did Hugo Jönsson not give up and continued insistently the work on his lifework. Part of this was the venture into mineral reinforced PP in 1979, which turned out to be more complicated and expensive than calculated and which almost made the company go under. The breakthrough of POLYfill in 1982/1983 gave the company a long term financial stability. In the mid-80-ies did Hugo Jönsson invest in a customer friendly R&D department and this in combination with establishing of the foreign subsidiaries grew into a financially strong platform for Polykemi.
In 1997 did Hugo Jönsson retire as managing director and gave the responsibility for the daily operations to his sons Ola and Lars and took himself the roll as chairman of the board in the Polykemi which is the largest private employer in Ystad and in the southeast of Scania (Skåne).Outside of the work at Polykemi did Hugo Jönsson also involve himself in the local politics and was for three years Chairman for the Ystad Harbour, where he managed to convince the Polish ferry line operating the “Polonia” to choose Ystad as its Swedish harbor.
Hugo Jönsson was intensely fond of non-profit sports and in particularly Ystad IF team handball. Hugo Jönsson was the person who transformed YIF into the major club of today and was behind the club’s first Swedish Championship in 1976 and many other great achievements.