SHL: An Entrepreneur’s Story
How One Man Became A Global Organization With 1,000 Employees
"To be honest, money doesn’t really interest me. I’ve always been more interested in creating a respected global organization. That has been my dream", says Roger Samuelsson, the Swedish entrepreneur that founded Scandinavian Health Ltd. (SHL) in 1989.
Now, CEO Samuelsson’s dream is quickly becoming reality, as the SHL organization that he started just broke through the 1,000 employee barrier world-wide.
Currently, the SHL Group consists of three distinct group companies: SHL Medical, SHL Technologies and SHL Pertinax; establishing themselves as leaders in the development and manufacturing of high-end drug delivery devices, industrial & consumer products, and hospital & home health care equipment. SHL Medical produces all of the components for advanced pen injector devices, supplying top Pharma and Biotech companies such as Pfizer, Amgen, and Schering-Plough.
SHL had relatively modest beginnings with CEO Samuelsson setting up operations in Asia by registering his company in Hong Kong, but focusing on Taiwan where he opened a PO Box and began running operations out of his apartment. He had been fascinated by the phrase "Made in Taiwan" and wanted a first-hand look at what this place had to offer. Roger stated, “I went to Taiwan out of curiosity when I was 20-years-old. Then, the words Made in Taiwan could be found on so many consumer goods in Sweden, similar to how Made in China is now seen on many goods today.”
Once in Asia, the young entrepreneur quickly discovered that he was in the position to do business providing components and finished products to Europe and the USA, utilizing manufacturing out of Taiwan. He worked quickly to establish relationships with manufacturing partners in Taiwan and China.
Now, more than 15 years later, SHL has several of its own manufacturing sites in the Taoyuan area, a suburb of Taipei which is half an hour away from the International CKS Airport. The head office is located at “Taoyuan One”, which is also the largest of the six factories in the SHL Group. The organization has also been moving operations into China with a factory now established in Shenzhen and another soon in Zhongshan.
SHL’s big break came when they were chosen to develop a second generation of disposable injectors for Upjohn Pharmacia (today part of Pfizer, the world’s largest pharmaceutical company). Since then SHL, has become respected as a leading developer and manufacturer of drug delivery systems.
The entrepreneur, now 42-years-old, does not let success go to his head. In Taiwan he surprisingly still drives a locally made car which is more than eight-years-old. Roger prefers to invest his money in machinery for his factories and to continue to hire the best staff possible to help fuel his company’s rapid growth.
SHL has invested extensively in expanding SHL’s capabilities and processes, purchasing top-of-the-line equipment from companies such as Krauss-Maffei from Germany, the “Rolls-Royce” of molding machines. Nevertheless, machinery is only part of the equation, as people remain the key factor according to Samuelsson, "Our people continue to grow with SHL and help us to attract other talented individuals. They are the core of the success of our company."
SHL’s main factory “Taoyuan One”, just celebrated its one year anniversary in September. These are truly exciting times for the once fledgling SHL. Roger comments, “When you look at what we have accomplished so far it is quite amazing, but I still feel like we are just getting started. We now have a strong management structure in place and an experienced team of engineers. Our global offices are expanding and we are doing our very best to remain as close to our customers as possible”