The Swedish connection
Nordic nation proves to be a good export market
- November 30, 2011
James Loux never needs the services of a translator when business trips take him to Sweden. “Almost all Swedes speak fluent English,” he says. And, like many Americans, they like to start the workday early. “They are hard workers.”
Loux, president of Allegheny Logistics Group in Dublin, Va., does business in Sweden’s coastal city of Gothenburg. “We ship to a major distribution center in Antwerp, Belgium, and then the shipments may go to Sweden or factories in Europe,” he says.
Allegheny Logistics Group consists of Allegheny Brokerage Co. Inc., Allegheny Logistics Services Inc. and Allegheny Ocean Transport Inc. The Group offers importing and exporting services and support, working with the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection to help companies maneuver through the regulatory restraints of the federal law enforcement agency.
Allegheny handles multiple weekly shi
pments to Sweden. “We have in excess of 200 a month,” Loux says. The company also regularly ships to Brazil and the United Kingdom. It exports automotive parts to Gothenburg and imports merchandise from China, Brazil and Europe. “Most of what we bring in comes from China or western Europe,” Loux says. “We have a national permit with U.S. Customs that allows us to import from any U.S. port.”
Currently 60 percent of Allegheny’s business is export related. “Imports are picking up,” Loux says. “We would like to get it more 50/50.”
Loux feels comfortable in Sweden because the countryside reminds him of Maine with its jagged coastline and pine forests. “Everything in Sweden is meticulous,” he says. “It’s neat and clean.”
He finds a lot of camaraderie among Swedes. Yet that doesn’t get in the way of being very thorough in a negotiation environment. “It has been my experience that they don’t beat around the bush,” he says. “They are usually direct. They know what they are doing. They are usually well versed on the project.”
When he visits cities in Sweden, Loux likes to wander through the old sections “because they date back to the 1600s,” he says. “It’s a nice place to visit. The people are friendly.”
The second largest city in Sweden, Gothenburg was founded in 1621. It is centrally located between Copenhagen, Denmark, and Oslo, Norway, and is the area’s largest seaport. Attractions include the Gothenburg Opera and the Gothenburg Botanical Garden. Visitors also enjoy taking a boat trip to the 17th-century Älvsborgs fästning fortress, originally built to protect the city from the Danes. The 30-minute boat ride takes visitors through the picturesque archipelago seascape. The 18th-century Gunnebo castle, which sits outside the city, is another popular destination.
THE CITY’S ECONOMY
Trade and shipping are an integral part of Gothenburg’s economic health. An industrial seaport, Gothenburg exports a variety of goods such as machinery, electronics, paper, petroleum products and iron and steel. Export partners include Germany, the United Kingdom and the U.S. Imports include crude oil, textiles, chemicals and food. Manufacturing and industry also play a role in Gothenburg’s economy. The city’s large employers include Volvo Cars, Stockholm-based Ericsson (a provider of technology and services), London-based Astra Zeneca (biopharmaceuticals) and SKF (a supplier of bearings, seals, lubrication systems and services). The city has several business parks with information technology companies.
WHERE TO STAY
The circa-1889 Elite Plaza Hotel has many of its original features such as stucco ceilings and English mosaic floors. The hotel sits in the heart of the city on Västra Hamngatan, within walking distance of the Central Station, the opera house, shopping and restaurants. The modern Avalon Hotel has a central location, and 24 of its rooms have their own mini-spa. Three rooms have a mini-gym. Gothenburg Hotel Royal, the city’s oldest hotel, is also located in the city. The hotel has an Art Nouveau ambience.