Norra Timber's utility pole factory posts record sales despite recession

Norra Timber's utility pole factory in Agnäs set a new financial record in 2023 as sales soared despite the recession.
“Strange as it may sound, a recession is usually good for us. That’s because large infrastructure projects are often carried out globally, which favors the sale of electricity and telecommunication poles”, says the factory’s Site Manager Johan Lundberg.

Published 29 May 2024

The Agnäs utility pole factory produces turned poles from high-quality pine. The raw material is specially selected from the best Norrland pine trees and is considered by many to be of superior quality. The production of utility poles in Sweden is limited - there are only three utility pole factories in the whole of Sweden. The Agnäs factory is the only one located in Norrland (northern Sweden).

“Our production and sales are very stable from year to year. There is a constant need for new poles, whether it is to produce new ones or replace old ones. In Sweden alone there are upwards of 10 million poles that need to be maintained and replaced”, says Johan Lundberg.

Despite the recession Agnäs utility post factory was able to maintain production levels throughout 2023 and achieve a record-breaking result.

“Going into 2023 we had very high stock levels. But we also sold an incredible amount, so there was a substantial reduction in stock. At Agnäs we export almost everything we manufacture, so we also benefited from currency exchange rates. As it turned out 2023 was a great year for us, and we set an all-time record”, says Johan Lundberg.

The factory’s single largest market is North Africa, followed by Morocco. Central Europe is also a prosperous market.

“The production of utility poles is quite niche and there aren't that many companies in the marketplace. Those of us producing them work together a lot. We supply poles to each other which are then exported, often to England and Ireland, which are huge markets”, says Johan Lundberg, and adds:

“During 2023 a quarter of our deliveries went to another Swedish pole factory, which in turn exported them. So collaborations are very important”.

Sweden and Finland are the largest markets in Europe for utility poles due to their demand for high-quality raw materials. The trees used must be straight and as free as possible from imperfections such as knots.

“We usually call the trees selected to become utility poles the ‘filets of the forest’. Forest owners get paid extra for them”, says Johan Lundberg.

Facts about utility pole production

At the factory the trees are measured and debarked before being turned and sorted by length and dimension. The utility poles are then dried on well-ventilated stacks for 8–10 months. The bark and wood shavings are later used as energy sources in heating plants. The dimensions, humidity and quality of the utility poles are checked a further time upon delivery. The utility poles are produced with the craftsmanship of our staff to drill, cut and mark them, which results in high-class products that we deliver to around ten countries worldwide.

Our factory produces power and telecommunication utility poles, lighting poles and poles in lengths between 7–19 meters. Most of our poles are delivered untreated. Around 50,000-70,000 poles are manufactured each year.