A native Swede, Andersson is the only non-American among the 15 people who make up GM’s corporate management team. He’s responsible for the purchase of all outside materials for GM globally—a shopping list of well over $100 billion—and has been instrumental in the recent, successful restructuring of GM’s entire purchasing operation.
Those who attended expected a typical speech as Andersson took the podium after an introduction by Michigan’s Consul General, Lennart Johansson. But after an inspiring address on the car giant and its future, Andersson turned the tables and surprised Lennart Johansson with a “Special Friend to GM Award,” signed by him and by GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner.
“To thank you for all your support of General Motors...for your many strong efforts for GM top management, and for the fostering of good relationships between GM and the Swedish Government,” announced Andersson as he presented Johansson with the special award.
For Johansson is more than a successful representative of Sweden as Consul General – he is also an extremely successful inventor and entrepreneur. Johansson and his team at STM Power in Ann Arbor, Mich., have created an engine that brings engine efficiency to levels previously not believed possible. The technology behind STM Power, the Stirling engine, is smarter, better, cheaper and less polluting than any comparable technology today. Most importantly, however, it is here, available now, not sometime in the un-foreseeable future. The first generation engines have been developed to operate power plants to generate electricity and heat.
And big business and traditional corporate America have taken notice—in 2001, the worst of times for venture capital and raising risk capital, the company reaped almost 70% of the venture capital allotted in the state of Michigan in one single sweep — some $25 million. Johansson handed management to younger production-oriented people, remains a shareholder and has founded a new corporation to develop the second-generation engines.
Since then, Johansson, who is a Swedish Council of America director, has also devoted much of his time to duties for his native Sweden. He has focused on the development and use of bio energy and fostering long-term relations between Sweden—a forerunner in these areas—and the industry in the U.S. Two Swedish ministers of industry, the minister for enterprises and energy, and the deputy prime minister have all benefited from the services and far-ranging contacts of the Consul General in Michigan.
Johansson was instrumental in setting up meetings between officials from Sweden, the state of Michigan and several of the main players of the auto industry. On a recent tour of Michigan, Deputy Prime Minister Maud Olofsson of Sweden and a group from the Ministry for Enterprise and Energy met with top managers at Ford, GM and Center for Automotive Research, and Governor Jennifer Granholm—all arranged by Johansson. Only he knows the extent to which his efforts to save the fledgling Saab factory in Sweden hit the mark. But the fact, cars are still being produced in Trollhättan.
On Jan. 23, 2007—once again through Johansson’s behind-the-scenes work—the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (VINNOVA) and Swedish National Road Administration (Vägverket) signed a cooperative agreement with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Michigan Economic Development Corporation at the Swedish Embassy in Washington, D.C.
This cooperative agreement creates a platform for a long-term cooperation between the Swedish authorities and the Michigan entities. MDOT recently started a program in Michigan to increase traffic safety by developing global communication standards. GM, Ford, Daimler Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen, BMW, Nissan and other carmakers are all part of the program.
Congratulations and thank you to Lennart Johansson for being a special friend to everyone of his native Sweden, in his industry and region.
Text: Ulf B. Martensson
Text on photo: Lennart Johansson, Consul General of Sweden in Michigan, receives the Special Friend to GM Award by GM’s Bo Andersson
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