Published

Henning Ullum

A family away from home

Position: Manager of Spare Parts, Aarhus, Denmark
Employed since: June 1977
Education: Diploma in Specialised Business Studies

by Alexander Rottbøll

Among colleagues, Henning is known as a joker who never hesitates to shoot witty comments or friendly banter at anyone who happens to be around. Some know him by his almost Rain Man-like ability to remember every fact and detail, such as all product names and their corresponding numbers in the warehouse. Others would point out his energetic, competitive nature that makes him unable to sit still for long stretches of time. Above all, everyone who has worked with him has experienced his helpful and considerate character - Henning always makes time to offer help or advice to whoever needs it.

On June 1st 2017, Henning Ullum reached an impressive milestone: his 40th anniversary at Kosan Crisplant! A truly astounding achievement, especially in the eyes of someone like me who has only recently joined the KC family. A man like him must be able to share a few pieces of advice! So I sat down with Henning to hear his thoughts about his career in the company that managed to keep him around for four whole decades.

How did you end up at KC?

In essence, I got in because of who I knew. A guy in the workshop fell down some stairs and sprained his foot, so they needed a replacement. I had just come out of military service at the time, and I had gone to school with the daughter of someone who worked here, Hans Ove Pedersen. He called my mother to say he would like to see me, but I was out fishing. There were no cell phones back then, of course, so my father drove out to me to deliver the news. I went to the office, I signed a contract, and I've been here since! So don't ask me about CV's and applications. I've never written any of that stuff.

How did your career develop?

Well, the short version is: Workshop first. Then service.  Then they restructured the department, so I ended up back here. That was around the time it became trendy to be a Key Account Manager for Selected Customers. So in that role, I took care of the same customers whom I had traveled to in the Middle East. I knew them, and we had a personal connection. I worked with Svend Nørgaard, who was a salesman, but then he started running around in Cameroon instead, so I took over sales in the area. Roughly ten years ago, I needed a change, and so I became manager of spare parts.

How come you have stayed here for forty years?

Because it is challenging, and I get to work with some good people, under good conditions. We have always had a sense of honesty about the work we do, and we have always delivered good solutions in one way or another. In my time here, from being a family owned company to the era of suits and spreadsheets, we have still somehow managed to hold on to our old traditions, because we have had a continuity in the people who work here. It's hard to imagine not being here when you know so many people. It becomes your second family. So it is always interesting how new employees see us.

Speaking of new employees: Do you have any advice for new people, such as me?

Yes! Observe the traditions in the company and be faithful to them. But don't accept that everything has to be the way it is, just because it was always like that. Us old guys, we have a habit of saying 'Oh, we tried all that, it doesn't work.' We can be real initiative killers. You should try to change what you can, but with respect for our history. There are some things you can't buy - history, culture and togetherness are among them.

Ask questions, because there really is a lot of implicitness here. I don't know if it's as bad in the other offices, but we have a tendency to use phrases and refer to situations that new people have no chance of recognizing. So just ask, and try to become part of the new stories.