It is fair to say this man knows his job. After nearly 50 years of working at Elos Medtech in Timmersdala, Sweden, Knut Johansson is now ready to retire. I met up with him to listen to old stories, new plans, and memories from the past.
Hi, Knut! You have been working at Elos Medtech for nearly 50 years. Tell me how it all started?
When I was 18 years old, my friend and I went to Elos Medtech and asked for work. We met with Ekström who was the Vice Director at the time. He, together with Lindström and Olsson opened a mechanical workshop in the town center of Timmersdala back in 1951, and this is how Elos Medtech was born. This is also how the name Elos Medtech was created, based on the first letters of their surnames.
Anyway, Ekström got back to me and my friend a few days later and offered us both a job in the factory. Today, almost 50 years later, I am still here!
That is fantastic. Have you had many different roles over the years?
Yes, I have done a bit of everything. But I have always worked in the factory mainly operating machinery. Over the years, my job has included burring, turning, grinding, milling, welding, and assembling.
When I first started, the majority of work was carried out manually. We had to learn everything by hand and, in a way, it was a matter of craftsmanship.
In 1976, I started operating a grinding machine. My manager at the time used to say it was “the Rolls Roys of machines” because of its high quality. Today, I operate the very same machine – and it is still going strong!
Well, you don’t get rid of a Rolls Roys in a hurry, do you? So, who will be operating the grinding machine when you retire?
That is a good question! The new generation does not really do manual work. They just want to press a button and watch the magic happen!
Jokes aside: These days, everything is becoming automated and digitalized. Machinery and equipment are no exception. The knowledge is transferring from the hands of humans to the data of computers. Elos Medtech has had many technological advancements over the years and the company has invested heavily in new machines as well as other equipment. The new recruits are most likely more digitally oriented compared to me!
With your long work history and vast experience, what is the biggest challenge you have ever faced?
The biggest challenge, which is an every-day challenge, is precision. The products and components we produce in our factory have extremely fine tolerances. They require maximum precision and accuracy in both dimension and surface. It is important to make sure everything is done by the book. You cannot deliver a screw to a customer that is going to sit in a patient’s hip or head that is slightly crooked. Luckily, we have always had the knowledge and expertise in the building to be able to achieve high-quality results.
Now, the ten thousand dollar question: What made you stay for this long?
Well, I have always liked it here. There is a strong fellowship. We are a group of colleagues who enjoy each other’s company and have a lot of fun together. I think that is what has made me, as well as other employees, stay with Elos Medtech for so long. Many of us have been working here for 20 years, or more.
I actually applied for another job once. And they offered me the position. But I said no. I rather wanted to stay at Elos Medtech. So I stayed on.
Looking back, what is your finest memory of working at Elos Medtech?
I have so many great memories. One time, we rented canoes and had a race down the river. That was a lot of fun. We have also been fishing together countless times in Hökensås, a beautiful area well-known among fishing enthusiasts. These are fine memories.
With freedom just around the corner, what are your future plans?
I haven’t thought about it yet. We will have to wait and see. Perhaps I will polish the car? Or start working out? That is probably about time!
It will feel a bit strange, I guess, not getting up to go to work every morning. I will definitively miss my colleagues, no doubt about that. But I have told them not to be surprised if they hear a knock on the factory window. Then, it is just me inviting myself for a cup of coffee!
I wish you the best of luck, Knut. And thank you so much for investing your time and effort in Elos Medtech for the past 50 years!
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