In 2021, it is 60 years, since GPV was founded. 60 years is indeed something special and worth celebrating. Not by looking nor leaning back, but by using our company’s history as a learning tool to continue remaining relevant and competitive in the years to come. In the following article, we look back at an impressive journey.
Early mornings and entrepreneur spirit
No one could have predicted the incredible journey of GPV 60 years ago, when Knud W. Hansen founded Glostrup Pladeværksted (Glostrup sheet metal workshop) in 1961 alongside his brother-in-law –repairing cars and growing a small business.
The first years were full of entrepreneurial spirit and can-do culture, as the company evolved from a local manufacturer to later becoming an established mechanical and electronics company – changing name to and becoming “GPV” in the process.
Much changed over the first decades, but the company always remained true to a strong set of shared values and were fortunate to work for significant customers with high demands, giving GPV the opportunity to learn the requirements needed to perform at the highest level.
In 1986, GPV was listed on the Danish stock exchange - a big milestone for the company. Employees from the era recall this period as “tough, but fun” with hectic activity, long working hours, great responsibility, and a sense of being one big family. Sunday morning meetings at 7 am was not unusual, and what the company lacked in size, it made up for in entrepreneurial spirit, a strong sense of helpfulness across the company and a steadfast mindset on always delivering as promised.
Growing across borders
In the 1990s, GPV grew considerably from multiple acquisitions of local electronic and mechatronic related companies and moving into the 2000s, global presence was next on the agenda. Today, being present in all major time zones is a natural part of GPV’s business offering, but the setup of production in Bangkok, Thailand in 1999 was a big step. The setup was seen as a bold move, and while a few sceptics questioned its potential, over time it proved to be one of the most important strategic decisions in the company’s history.
A focused EMS
During the first decade of the 2000s, GPV unfortunately had a no. of unsuccessful projects resulting in significant negative results – and in the end, it led the company into financial trouble and to a restructuring in the beginning of 2009 and subsequently de-listing. During this difficult period, Bo Lybaek was, in 2008. appointed new CEO, and he managed, supported by the financial institutes and together with the employees, to overcome the problems and rebuild GPV. From 2009, GPV has delivered solid positive results. In 2012, the Executive Management suggested a major change in the strategy for GPV to become a focused EMS company with inhouse mechanics competences as a strong differentiator. The BOD approved this step and the foundation for GPV being “One company” was created.
A new ownership: New ambitions
In 2016 another milestone came for GPV, when the Danish industry conglomerate Schouw & Co. acquired GPV. With Schouw & Co., GPV now has an owner, who combines deep industry understanding and long-term ambitions, and who cares about the positive development of GPV as a leading, responsible EMS company. “We have always been obligated to conduct a strong, relevant, and competitive business – delivering on our promise to help customers accomplish more – a promise further enhanced under the ownership of Schouw & Co. Together, we have set very ambitious growth targets and succeeded in reaching them so far. In this light, it is interesting to see how many of today’s sustainable, ESG agendas that are in direct line with how we have conducted business for years. This reassures me that we have work to do, but we are on the right path,” says Bo Lybæk.
With the acquisition of the Swiss EMS supplier CCS Group in 2019, recent years have not only focused on growth and quality performance – but also on living up to the responsibility of delivering products and solutions with a uniform high quality across many different production sites: To always be ‘One GPV’. This is not only a matter of offering comparable technical setups on different locations in order to handle variations in capacity – but also about having a shared sense of value among employees. That is why GPV over the years has always prioritised personal relationships – both with customers and among employees – and it is one example of how the spirit from the early years still exists today.
“History is an opportunity to learn and look ahead”
Milestones as a 60-year anniversary are worth celebrating. But it is also an opportunity to build on the experience gained and the lessons learned.
Thomas Kaiser, Executive Vice President, GPV: “Being 60 does not automatically make us better. The 60 years are therefore not only a celebration, but also an opportunity to reflect and learn from the past. As an EMS company, we are in a market where the only constant is change, and GPV has demonstrated an ability to transform and adapt to change many times over the years. It is vital that we continue to do so. On the other hand, we must provide an unmatched stability in handling our customers’ products. So, our challenge as an EMS company is to continuously sharpen and rethink business models and remain top relevant while offering stability and reliability. To do this, we must share the same strong values and have agile employees, and therefore we always focus on team efforts and winning together.”
A key part of GPV’s growth are the employees at our sites around the world. Bo Lybæk: ”It is an absolute privilege and pleasure going to our sites and witnessing the pride and ambitions here. There is a genuine desire always to do things better today than yesterday, and everyone works so hard to deliver on our promise as a service provider with a servant attitude. This is true on the individual sites but also across GPV where there is a willingness to help each other based on the experience we each have.”
Over time, any global company will face challenges and turmoil, and recently the global corona pandemic has been a severe challenge for the company, our employees, and our customers. Bo Lybaek: “Taking care of not only employees, but also the societies we are a part of, is so important to us. We try to take the biggest possible responsibility for our employees – whether it is about helping out in hard times or about always staying solution oriented when challenges occur. I believe and think that this is also why we have an accumulated experience within the company that is very high. Our great employees are the reason, why we are happy to not only celebrate our 60 years anniversary but also look ahead with pride and confidence on the years to come.”
Watch the video, where CEO Bo Lybaek addresses GPV's history and some of our many dedicated colleagues share, what makes GPV special to them.