Despite having manufacturing operations on three continents, Sweden-based PartnerTech has no products for sale. This is not because its 1400 employees are unable to deliver or because the company lacks business opportunities. Quite the reverse: the company specialises in IT, clean technology, offshore oil and gas, medical devices and payment solutions, all of which are doing well.
Therefore the situation has to do with PartnerTech's operating model, as hinted at by the company's name, says CEO Leif Thorwaldsson. “We serve as an industrial partner for other companies,” he says. “They come to us with their products and we help them with developing, manufacturing and delivering it to the market. We also provide after-market services.”
In other words, within the realm of R&D, PartnerTech specialises in 'D'.
Although PartnerTech's field of expertise spans multiple fields, in recent years the company has focused on two: offshore oil and gas solutions and medical devices.
“We own cleanrooms, which is a competitive advantage when it comes to providing solutions for medtech firms, for example, and we have locations around the North Sea especially suited to oil and gas operations,” says Mr Thorwaldsson. The focus on these two fields also stems from the fact that both proved to be crisis-resistant and are forecast to grow exponentially in the coming years. “I believe medtech and offshore oil and gas will be the main pillars of our growth in the next two to three years,” says Mr Thorwaldsson.
From a geographical viewpoint, Mr Thorwaldsson believes PartnerTech's growth will be driven by China and the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) region. The company operates manufacturing facilities in Guanghzou and Dongguan in China and has an office in Hong Kong. Operating in the US since 2000, PartnerTech recently exploited the rebound of the country's manufacturing sector to expand its facilities in Lawrenceville, 50 kilometres north-east of Atlanta.
“There is a lot of interest in reshoring, especially in the US. We are benefitting from that,” says Mr Thorwaldsson, who hints that the company is planning opening another location in the Nafta region.
Europe will also contribute to the company's growth, but its economy is some way from rebounding, according to Mr Thorwaldsson. Apart from bases in Norway, Sweden, Finland and the UK, the company owns two facilities in Poland, a country which, says Mr Thorwaldsson, in recent years has gone from a low-cost manufacturing location to a place that increasingly suits more technologically advanced products.
“Poland is becoming a much more advanced country and so is our production there,” says Mr Thorwaldsson. “Similar developments can be observed in China, but it started from a much lower level so it could take the country a little more time to catch up.”