Tor Rønhovde is CEO of 4Service. According to his children, his job mostly consist of meetings.
“My children say that all you do is go to meetings, dad,” Tor Rønhovde laughs before continuing:
“And it’s actually true! My job mostly concerns meeting customers, business partners and, not least, employees. In many ways, meeting people is the best thing I know.”
Tor Rønhovde’s leadership style is inclusive and sincere. He believes that if you trust someone with a task, they will perform it well.
“4Service is at its best when we combine a positive atmosphere with commitment. You can always learn a trade, but the will to contribute and improve comes from within,” says the CEO.
If you walk a year in a CEO’s shoes, you will find that there is a lot of freedom, but rarely much free time. Tor Rønhovde explains:
“I may be physically away from work, but my thoughts are always on the job. This gives me positive energy and is part of my lifestyle. If this begins to be stressful, you’re no longer suitable for the job. In addition, I never think of myself as a manager, but rather as one of several thousand colleagues on the same team.”
Teamwork and team efforts were important keywords for 4Service in 2021. Even though some elements of operations were suspended in November, in overall terms the year was successful.
“The work contributed by everyone who worked at 4Service in 2021 has been admirable. Among other things, we sold more than ever before and I would like to highlight a change that has pleased me a lot: Instead of us always calling our customers,
they are increasingly calling us with new assignments.”
In the second year of the pandemic, Tor Rønhovde and the Group Management continued the communication strategy from 2020.
"We’ve communicated as openly as we could. It’s easy to talk about the positive things, but it’s not always easy to tackle difficult subjects, and it’s important to strike the right balance.”
The past year also included learning for Tor Rønhovde and his management team. While many took a defensive line, the Group Management of 4Service saw new opportunities.
“I have a fundamental belief that things always go much better than you think. At times of crisis, there are opportunities for those who can keep up momentum, and there is no doubt that we managed to get ahead during the pandemic. At the same time, and this is something I think many people can learn from: We haven’t left anyone behind, but rather got everyone on board.”
The moment he remembers best from 2021 naturally concerns people and occurred at the very end of the year.
“I’ll never forget being able to withdraw the temporary suspension-notices on 22 December. In the last lockdown, the authorities didn’t make it very easy to understand who or what the compensation under the schemes applied to. Even with the good support of NHO (the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise), we couldn’t get the numbers to add up.”
For a couple of hectic days, the Group Management worked flat out to understand and find solutions. It turned out that the compensation schemes would cover some, but by no means all, of the costs.
“In the end, we just made a decision. We made a move and withdrew the notices that had just been sent out.”
Rønhovde draws his breath and takes a moment to think.
“To avoid sending many colleagues into Christmas with the uncertainty that a temporary suspension creates was an important and emotional moment in my career.”
In 2020, Rønhovde and the Group Management worked on a vision that extended towards 2025. Decisions and strategies from that process remain firm, but due to the many unknown twists and turns of the pandemic, the timeline has been adjusted equivalently.
“Now we call it Vision 2026,” Tor Rønhovde smiles.
In brief, 4Service will be rigged up for the Nordic market, without focusing too much on national borders.
“Since we started here in Norway in 2010, we’ve learned a lot. This learning can be exported and further developed in the other Nordic countries. We will become the largest service company in the Nordic region, and we’ll achieve this based on our own model.”
The model consists primarily of two important elements: people and platforms.
“We’ll take people who represent the culture here in Norway out to the other Nordic countries. At 4Service, the people have always created the results, and this time will be no exception. We also do not want to start at zero in all markets, which makes strategic acquisitions of relevant companies important. We need to find operators who match our culture and will share our dreams for the future.”
The next generation of services naturally includes greater use of technology. But it is the interaction between machines and people that will characterise 4Service’s future service offerings.
“The technology has to be right for the people who will use and make use of it. Of course, many services will be easier and more accessible using the right technology, but technology can never fully replace people. To ensure a good service experience in the years to come, we need the simplification offered by technology and also the natural touch that people bring to the table,” says Tor Rønhovde.
Sustainability has long been a priority area for 4Service. The company has emphasised practical solutions that make everyday life better for both people and the environment.
“We’ve always been focused on people, which also applies to much of our sustainability work. I’m proud of the great diversity in our company and I’m convinced that this is one of our most important keys to success.”
As a specific example of practical sustainability, Tor Rønhovde highlights how, as a company that has expended significantly in the course of almost 12 years, 4Service hires new employees:
“Our recruitment combines a good mix of traditional and less traditional channels. The latter means that we also have opportunities for people who find themselves outside the labour market. It’s also important to stress that we run a business, not a charity. This makes it great to see that the many social and practical sustainability measures we take are so successful, in terms of both people and financial results.”
The future starts afresh every morning. Tor Rønhovde knows what to offer both customers and upcoming colleagues in the years to come:
“Customers must choose us because this is where they meet the best people. This sets a clear course for us. To create and maintain the best team in the industry, we must constantly add employees who share our values. At 4Service, there is always full speed ahead. For the right people, this gives lots of opportunity for development and an open career path that is limited only by each individual’s dreams. If you want to join us, hang on for the ride,” the CEO concludes.