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Spirited jubilarian celebrates 30 years of culture and data

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Proact has been managing its customers’ data for 30 years. Although a lot has happened since the start, the same spirit remains, according to CEO Jonas Hasselberg. “We have succeeded well in building a corporate culture that is strong and shared,” he says.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Proact’s founding, and to a large extent, the company is still recognisable today, although much has obviously changed. This is what the company’s CEO Jonas Hasselberg says when he welcomes us to the company’s new premises in the old SAS building in Frösundavik.

But although the premises are new, there is also much that is the same. This is especially true of the trio Per Sedihn, Johan Hammarström and Åke Beckman, who have all been there since the start in 1994.

“They worked at Storagetek, which thought mainframes were cool, and realised that other types of computers could also be relevant, so they took that business and started something new,” says Jonas Hasselberg about how it all began.

International expansion started early

Right from the start, Proact has had a strong focus on storage, which in recent years has been developed and refined to handle customers’ data. Today, it’s also more than just a Swedish business, with a presence in a dozen countries. Expansion outside Sweden started early too.

Norway was first and it happened quite quickly after the foundation because Storagetek was there too. Since then, we have primarily expanded through acquisitions but sometimes also opened on our own. Today we are present in twelve countries, and we have grown and grown,” says Jonas Hasselberg, noting that this is noticeable in several different ways.

“We have grown both in terms of size and geography, but also in how we help our customers. Today we work with managing and adding value to our customers’ data, where we work with storage, networks, workplaces, servers, security and the cloud.

An important part of the expansion has been the acquisitions, but as the geographical presence has expanded, the nature of the companies being acquired has also changed.

In the early years, acquisitions were mainly driven by new markets. Now the acquisitions are more about broadening our expertise,” says Jonas Hasselberg, citing Swedish open source specialist Conoa, Microsoft specialists in the Netherlands and Germany, and workplace specialists in the UK as examples.

Now we are buying to broaden instead of just buying a copy of Proact.

Growing the services business

When asked what he sees as a copy of Proact, he notes that it is difficult. In Sweden, it is mainly companies such as Advania and Atea that are being challenged, but if Jonas Hasselberg is to be believed, Proact’s strength lies precisely in being specialists.

“We’re always good at what we do and would rather say no to an assignment if it’s not within our area of expertise,” he says, describing a typical customer.

“These are customers with complex IT, who have great responsibility and need expertise in certain areas, or who want to buy the gadgets from us for their own operation.

One thing that hasn’t remained the same since the start is the division between product and service sales. It has changed a lot in the five years that Jonas Hasselberg has been CEO. He also says it was one of his stated missions. Today, he says, about half of turnover comes from product and the other half from consulting, support and cloud services. Five years ago, about 70 per cent of revenue came from the product side.

We’ve managed to stay relevant and in step with customer needs. There is always something the customer might need help with,” he says.

What is it that makes you relevant?

I would say the unique thing we do is to really focus on the customer’s data, and protect it and make sure it’s secure. We span the whole cloud and architecture scope. Not many people have that breadth. If we have a single success factor, it is that the customer can really trust us.

Working with customers’ core business

Another important factor that has kept Proact relevant is that they usually work with what is business-critical for customers. Jonas Hasselberg cites Fortnox as an example of such a customer, where Proact manages the infrastructure.

“The fact that we work within our customers’ core business is also one of the reasons why we are relatively stable through a period like this,” he says, referring to the current economic situation.

“There is always a need for the business-critical and to be able to save money through technology.

A trio from 1994 is still in the company, and both they and Jonas Hasselberg say that it is still possible to recognise Proact as a company, 30 years later.

“A lot of people must have changed, how do you maintain the image of the company over time?

It’s an interesting reflection. We have acquired companies in eleven or twelve countries, and that should give you a varied picture of who we are, but we have succeeded well in building a corporate culture that is strong and shared. We take local responsibility in local markets where we know our customers, and regardless of the country, it’s the same everywhere in the company. We have super talented people who are also very dedicated,” says Jonas Hasselberg.

Is it because you hire in a particular way, or how do you work to ensure that new employees get the same picture?

“It’s probably more driven by the culture. Often it is we who work here who recruit people who fit well into the company. It comes as part of the culture. Being good at working together with our customers and partners. It is a driving force in the company.

Proactivists is the name that Proact uses for its employees. When asked what characterises such a person, Jonas Hasselberg replies:

“A typical proactivist is very good at what he or she does, and is easy to deal with. In addition, they are always very welcoming and are happy to turn themselves inside out to help our customers.

How important is it that there are three people left since the start?

I think it is important. One is that they are so very talented, but they are also culture bearers and very important for that reason. Per Sedihn is also a member of the management team.

“We have a culture that is worth something”

For Jonas Hasselberg, the journey began as a pro-activist via a recruitment company. But he says that the work on culture was already there when he came into contact with the company.

“I got some driving orders from the board. Grow the company, increase the degree of servitisation, acquire companies and build a great corporate culture,” he says, summarising the brief he was given.

He says that decentralised responsibility is an important part, not least when it comes to bringing in the companies that are acquired. “The strategy is always the same.

Our acquisitions are always integrated into the company. This is important because the company should feel pride in a good way.

It’s not always the case that a deal is done, and it’s often the cultural values that put a stop to it.

Sometimes we have dropped out. It can be due to various things. Sometimes it may have been too top-down, or the company had unqualified staff. The companies we buy are often founder- and owner-driven,” says Jonas Hasselberg, noting that this is perhaps where the Proact culture is most noticeable.

“It’s often important to the owners and founders that they are in a place where the company can continue to develop. We have even talked to companies that would rather sell to us than to others, even if it means a lower valuation. That has been a strength for us, to be able to show that. So we have a culture that is worth something, and it is possible to measure that value in money.

Where do you think Proact will be in 20 years?

We’ll still be here, but we’ll be celebrating our 50th anniversary. The trends we see today will continue, with more cloud, more services and more advanced technology. Many people think that technology is getting easier and easier. This is not the case. Quite the opposite, so our customers’ need to rely on skilled partners will only increase. That is our role.

Key stops on Proact’s journey from 1994 to today

  • 1996-1997 Becomes a fully Nordic company by establishing itself in Finland and Denmark.
  • 1999 The share is listed on Nasdaq OMX Stockholm.
  • 2000-2010 Continued geographic expansion into the Baltics and the Czech Republic via acquisitions, and into the Netherlands, where it started on its own, but later supplemented with acquisitions.
  • 2011 Enters the UK through the purchase of B2Net.
  • 2014 Establishment in Germany, followed three years later by the purchase of Teamix.
  • 2015 First office in the US opens, in Chicago.
  • 2017 Establishes Proact Security Operations Centre.
  • 2019-2022 Acquires Dutch Peopleware, UK Cetus, Swedish Conoa and German AHD and Sepago.
  • 2024 Proact turns 30, with around 1200 employees in twelve countries. 250 of them are based in Sweden. This autumn, the plan is to gather the whole team in Stockholm for a big 30th anniversary celebration.

Source: Radar, published May 2024,

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