Winners of FSN Capital’s Annual ESG Award

Winner 2023 – Gram Equipment

The winner of FSN Capital’s ESG award for 2023 is Gram Equipment (Gram). Among the world’s leading suppliers of ice cream equipment and services, Gram serves many of the best-known ice cream brands with production lines ranging from freezers to packaging equipment that produce up to 42,000 ice creams per hour. Gram currently employs around 600 employees globally and has offices in Denmark, the US, Turkey, China, and Italy.

Gram’s vision to become the world’s best supplier of sustainable ice cream equipment and services reflects the success of its long-time focus on ESG-commercial integration and a recognition that sustainability is not just a moral imperative but also a driver of business growth and customer satisfaction.

Having fully implemented FSN’s standard templates, Gram went on to conduct further systematic research into its customers’ sustainability requirements. Doing so ensured that Gram’s own sustainability investments would generate long-term cost savings for customers, ultimately establishing a competitive advantage for Gram as its industry’s preferred provider of sustainable production solutions.

Further cementing its leadership position is indeed the data-driven approach Gram brings to ESG in general — making evidence-based decisions to ensure its efforts are efficient and impactful — not only in its work with customers but in its internal ESG initiatives as well.

Gram places a strong emphasis on internal ESG training and employee engagement. By empowering its workforce with knowledge, skills, and resources, Gram has fostered a culture of sustainability and collective responsibility. This culture in turn both further empowers Gram as a
responsible corporate citizen and, internally, nurtures its One Gram Equipment philosophy, which prioritizes inclusivity and innovation throughout the organization.

Winner 2022 – Håndverksgruppen

This year’s ESG award winner is Håndverksgruppen (HG), Nordic’s largest provider of surface treatment services including painting, flooring, tiling and masonry. HG was established in 2020 when FSN Capital V partnered with around 30 companies to form a group of local winners and give them access to the benefits of a larger platform, while still maintaining an entrepreneurial spirit through HG’s decentralised structure. Today the group totals more than 3000 employees in over 100 operating companies.

With ESG firmly integrated in its core commercial approach, a strong tone from the top, and a desire to continuously improve, HG has proved itself a worthy recipient of this year’s award. ESG is a clearly understood value driver to be the best business partner to its customers, and further serves as a lever to attract and retain the best companies and people to join the HG group. HG is changing a whole industry, professionalising and heightening the standards for all players, for the benefit of the whole society. HG is a sustainability leader with strong governance and high ethical standards, and has an ambitious ESG agenda not only because it’s the right thing to do – it is simply good business.

With, on average, one company added to the group every second week, HG is on a continuous journey to ensure that ESG is a priority within all new add-ons. ESG is a critical due diligence workstream in HG’s M&A process, and the company has walked away from potential add-ons due to ESG concerns. At the same time, many companies are attracted to join the group due to its approach to ESG.

Similarly, one of HG’s key value propositions to public and professional B2B customers is its ESG focus, offering high quality services, with clear ethical standards and strong Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) compliance and documentation. All HG companies need to be ISO14001 certified within 12 months after joining the group. Acknowledging its industry’s footprint, HG challenges established practices and innovates to meet customer needs. In 2022, HG launched “Sustainable solutions” which are common services designed to resolve a problem with a minimal footprint and at a lower cost. 

“This is the future. For example, restoring floors rather than changing them saves about 7 kg of carbon emissions per tenth square metre. These solutions make us an even better partner for our customers,” says Business Development Director Elisabeth RustadNilssen. Other examples of sustainable solutions for customers include offering environmentally friendly materials and ESG KPI dashboards.

At HG, providing good work conditions and developing employees is a priority. A learning platform available for all employees, the HG Academy, was launched in 2021. The HG Academy provides the necessary tools and training to develop both soft and hard skills, within areas such as project management and leadership, leading to increased job satisfaction and personal growth. In 2022, 342 employees completed training at the HG Academy, while the measured eNPS was 46.

HG is also proud to support apprentices (about 9.2% of its total workforce), providing the opportunity for training and work security. Apprentices who join HG are not only youths coming straight from school, but also adults who are looking for a new path. At HG they get the necessary training to become a craftsperson.

“At HG, we care for each other. That means we want what’s best for the people around us. It means we care for the environment we operate in. It means we care about doing things right,” says CEO Øyvind Emblem

Looking ahead, HG’s quest to change the industry and be “Proud craftspeople leading the way” drives them to evolve. In parallel to continuously onboarding new companies to HG’s ESG standards, the company is doubling down on its climate efforts. Starting from 2023, HG is implementing quarterly reporting on CO2 emissions for all companies and will be setting science-based targets.

Winner 2021 – ViaCon

ViaCon is a pioneer in the construction and civil engineering industry. Its products and services support resiliency and climate change adaptation, which are critical as public and private entities prepare for increasing frequency of extreme weather events. ViaCon’s stormwater tanks, plastic pipes, and geotechnical solutions, for example, mitigate the disruptions of heavy rainfall and droughts, and will only gain in importance in the future. Furthermore, steel structures offered by ViaCon have a lower environmental footprint than traditional solutions made of concrete, thus facilitating the transition to a low carbon economy.

When ViaCon was established in 2019, responsibility for ESG was early on assigned to the Chief Human Resource Officer, Mattias Hakeröd, who is a part of the executive team. Since then, ViaCon has made significant progress in ingraining and institutionalising ESG across the entire organisation. ViaCon created an internal ESG team with representatives from each business segment to share progress on ESG efforts and expand on synergies. Combining the operational and strategic insights from these representatives have proven highly effective and fruitful.

ViaCon limits its environmental impact through production efficiencies and by recycling and reusing its steel and plastic. Achievements to date include increasing the recycled content in plastic pipes from 27% in 2020 to 36% in 2021. ViaCon is also supporting customers in making environmentally friendly choices and is creating a Life Cycle Assessment tool for its products and solutions.

Further, ViaCon’s production involves manual labour, and the health and safety of its employees is a key priority. Initiatives include easier to report “near misses” to accelerate preventative measures, and bonus criteria linked to Health & Safety. ViaCon rolled out the software tool Winningtemp in 2021 to track employee satisfaction, with the goal of becoming the industry’s best employer. Within ViaCon’s intranet, employees can access both ESG policies and ethics training, and 95% of employees completed the ethics training in 2021.

ViaCon has ambitious plans for the future. To further integrate ESG into its operations and keep the pressure up for continuous improvement and performance against its ESG targets, ViaCon structured a sustainability link to its financing agreement in 2021. The sustainability link was finalised in January 2022, and the KPIs are based on ViaCon’s ESG strategy.

Winner 2020 – Mørenot

Mørenot was acquired by FSN Capital Fund V in 2018. The company has a clear vision to ensure that the oceans can feed generations to come, which sets ESG at the core of their operations. Over time, Mørenot has managed to internalize ESG by identifying how ESG factors can support the overall commercial strategy. In this way ESG has become a value-adding activity owned by several people in the company, and not a reporting exercise to FSN Capital.

As Mørenot has operations in high risk jurisdictions from a compliance perspective, it is vital to mitigate the risk of unethical behavior. When it comes to strengthening business ethics and governance, Mørenot has continued their implementation of ESG policies by rolling out e-Learning and making anonymous whistleblowing available to all employees through an electronic whistleblower channel. The e-Learning included a short video of Mørenot’s CEO setting the tone from the top and emphasizing the importance of safeguarding the company’s reputation by complying with the company’s ethical standards. However, training and policies are not enough when operating in high risk jurisdictions. Mørenot’s key management has therefore also closely followed up local business units. This sends a strong signal from the top and enables identification of irregularities at an early stage.

Employee satisfaction is also high on Mørenot’s agenda. In 2020 they implemented Winningtemp, an AI and cloud-based software for measuring and monitoring employee engagement. With this tool, employees answer a few questions every second week on their mobile phone or laptop. Mørenot’s middle management are responsible for following up comments and insights from the tool and including these in the monthly management meeting. Mørenot wants to extend the use of Winningtemp to all their sites in more than 10 countries on three continents.

«Implementing a strong ESG platform is a twophase-process.» explains CEO Arne Birkeland, «First you need to make sure your operations meet ethical standards, and then you can use ESG as a value-adding measure.» Birkland believes the company has just started their journey in the second phase. The fishing and aquaculture industry is dependent on responsible consumption of the ocean’s resources, and Mørenot’s customers are increasingly seeking sustainable solutions. Environmental and climate impacts of the company’s operations have therefore been in focus over the past year. In line with Mørenot’s vision, the company has identified how sustainability aspects can support each business unit and the overarching commercial strategic objectives. Each target has been broken down in actions assigned to specific people to ensure they are followed up. Results have already started to materialize. Mørenot has changed their fishnet drying process. The industry standard diesel generators were substituted with a solution using 25% less energy while at the same time drying the nets twice as fast as conventional methods. The company is also continuing to explore net repair, re-use and recycling of nets, as well as fishing solutions that reduces the risk of bycatch.

Going forward, the strategic ESG priorities will be further operationalised. In 2021 the company is launching two cross-organisational groups, one focusing on sustainability and the other on digitalisation. By bringing together minds across the organisation, there is a potential to identify synergies and take ESG integration to the next level. Arne Birkeland also sees these groups as an important initiative to give all employees ownership of the ESG agenda; «In the future Mørenot will consist of 800 sustainability directors!»

Winner 2019 – Saferoad

Saferoad was acquired by FSN Capital Fund V in 2018. The company has a clear vision to contribute to realizing EU’s Vision Zero of no fatalities on Europe’s roads by 2022. The management team has shown great leadership in increasing awareness of and commitment to good corporate governance in daily operations across the group.

FSN Capital highly appreciates Saferoad’s eagerness to continuously improve and tie their ESG work with the overall strategy of the company. Equally valued is the willingness to share learnings and provide comments and recommendations directly with FSN Capital’s ESG team.

Saferoad started by defining clear roles and responsibilities for ESG, led by the Chairperson, the board, and the CEO, who together set the tone from the top. In addition, Saferoad has established a Group ESG SCOM*, consisting of the CEO, CFO, COO, and representatives from the HR, and Legal departments. The team meets monthly to secure continuous top management attention and cross functional contribution to ESG initiatives from key stakeholders in the organization. In 2019 Saferoad completed a full risk assessment and analysis of the group, which also included ESG topics.

This work has resulted in progress across several dimensions:

Saferoad’s efforts in 2019 to integrate and strengthen business ethics and governance really sets the company apart. The adoption of new ESG policies, guidelines, routines and processes was complemented with in-person training of all management teams on trade sanctions, anti-corruption and ethical dilemmas. The company also launched an e-learning module for all employees. The module covers the Code of Conduct, the whistleblower policy, trade sanctions, anti-corruption and anti-competition. Further, Saferoad has implemented a databased 3rd party screening system for trade sanctions compliance. Saferoad’s short version Code of Conduct is displayed in all offices and production facilities.

The company has shown commitment as a responsible employer, both with regards to handling whistleblower reports, as well as implementing a common employee net promoter score (eNPS) across the group. The common eNPS will make it easier to assess and address employee satisfaction going forward. A safer working environment has also been promoted through the launch of a robot arm for automatic road painting, which will reduce the risk for workers on the road.

Saferoad has strengthened efforts to reduce environmental and climate impacts. Among other things, it has focused on ISO 14001 certifying (Environmental Management System) production sites and reduced raw material uses in several new products. The company has also been self-driven when implementing the greenhouse gas reporting system, collecting both 2018 data to pilot the reporting tool and 2019 data for the final report.

«In Saferoad, we believe the key to successful ESG implementation lies in generating full commitment to initiatives, from the board of directors to each employee. We see that simple and focused initiatives, like the Code of Conduct being visible in each location, have a greater impact than scattered and theoretical initiatives. Having a strong ESG focus also rhymes well with our company’s core values, Care, Integrity, and Drive, which we use when implementing ESG initiatives.»

Group Chief Human Resource Officer at Saferoad

Winner 2018 – Kjell & Company

A vast majority of the products offered at Kjell & Company (Kjell & Co) are used to prolong life and extend the use of capital goods. As such, Kjell & Co aspires to a more sustainable society by reducing consumption of capital goods and by reducing electronic waste.

Kjell & Co’s work with ESG is an integrated part of daily operations, and they continuously investigate possibilities for reducing the environmental footprint. During 2018, Kjell & Co, alongside their suppliers, launched their packaging initiative with the intention to make sure that raw materials used in the package manufacturing process come from responsibly managed forests, and thus providing environmental, social and economic benefits. A pilot was successfully launched in 2018, where a USB cable was made from 70% recycled plastic that was gathered from waste generated from plastic injection during mass production. The package was made from 100% recycled paper and printed with soy ink.

Within plastic bags Kjell & Co charges SEK 2 per bag, of which 1 SEK per bag is donated to the Swedish Child Cancer Foundation. They also track plastic bags on a monthly basis as part of their overall ESG strategy. The goal for 2019 is to reduce plastic bag usage by 40%.

Employee and consumer welfare are at the heart of everything Kjell & Co does. Kjell & Co’s employees are regarded by the firm as their most valuable asset. Kjell & Co makes significant investments in training and education, and continuously focus on improving NPS in each individual department across the firm and complete bi-annual employee surveys. As an example, the NPS for the warehouse workers increased from -15% in H1 2016 to +6 in H2 2018 as a result of their efforts.

With a customer NPS of 66%, which is exceeding relevant peers by 27%, Kjell & Co has succeeded in building a customer club of 1.8 million members since 2017. The customer club allows Kjell & Co to provide customers with relevant offers and information regarding purchased products. By having access to customers via email and SMS, Kjell & Co discontinued their bi-annual release of a product catalogue, with an annual environmental impact estimated of 276 tonn of paper annually

Winner 2017 – Green Landscaping

FSN Capital is pleased to announce Green Landscaping as the winner of the FSN Capital ESG award for 2017.

In Green, FSN Capital has seen the full effect of implementing FSN Execution Framework with a corresponding systematic and holistic focus on ESG. Through this, Green has seen significant improvements in customer satisfaction and profitability. Green Landscaping’s work with sustainability and ESG matters is closely integrated with the daily operations.

Green Landscaping aspires to contribute to a more sustainable society by adhering to strict principles that cover multiple aspects of ESG. These principles highlight the importance of acting responsibly towards internal and external stakeholders, the environment as well as society at large. An important part of this work is the multiple social projects directed at empowering, educating and promoting the hiring of youths, immigrants and people with disabilities. These projects enable Green Landscaping to combine its vision for a sustainable society with social responsibility and its pursuit of high customer satisfaction.

Focused efforts have also enabled Green Landscaping to reduce its environmental footprint in recent years with the ambitious long-term goal of becoming carbon neutral. The values of Green Landscaping and FSN Capital are fully aligned through the commonly agreed-upon code of conduct approved by the board of directors and shared with all employees.

Winner 2016 – Netcompany

Netcompany was awarded the first FSN Capital ESG award in 2016.

Netcompany’s ESG efforts focus on people, community and the environment, and are present in daily operations. All employees are urged to continuously assess the environmental impact of their professional activities and, as far as possible, choose environmentally friendly solutions. Society at large benefits from Netcompany’s focus on creating efficiencies and reducing waste.

The ESG effort from Netcompany’s employees, top management and board of directors is oriented towards efforts with a substantial long-term impact instead of ad hoc initiatives without a clear road to impact. Netcompany continuously reassesses and improves its ESG commitment as it increases the number of employees and enters new markets and as the ESG orientation of the employees develops alongside current events. Netcompany’s ESG policies are clearly defined and re-iterated each year, as is reaffirmation of the UN’s Global Compact. The values of Netcompany and FSNC are aligned and ensured through the commonly agreed-upon code of conduct approved by the board of directors and shared with all employees.

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