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Catherine Sahlgren took on the role as CEO of the Procuritas owned automobile damage repair chain Werksta in August 2019. She acknowledges it can be hard to compare private equity firms from an entrepreneur’s perspective.
“The most common damage is a scratch on the side of the car. We receive the car, repair and return it. The aim is to make damage handling as easy and comfortable as possible,” says Catherine Sahlgren, CEO of Werksta Group.
Damage assessments, windscreen repair, body repair, and car painting are typical services offered by the car collision repair chain. In addition to individual customers, Werksta serves multiple corporate customers including international leasing companies and major insurance companies.
Having more than 60 workshops in Sweden, Finland, and Norway, the company offers high-quality damage repair services to a large part of the Nordic market. In less than five years, the company has positioned itself as the leading damage repair chain in the Nordic region with more than 700 employees.
Founded by a joint effort between entrepreneurs and Procuritas
“If you look at our geographical markets together, we operate in a multibillion kroner market. Our competitors are primarily the hundreds of small damage repair chains,” Sahlgren says.
Werksta was started when Procuritas acquired two individual collision repair workshops in Sweden in 2015, and in less than half a year Procuritas acquired and joined forces with six other workshops. Since that time the company’s growth has consisted of both organic growth and several acquisitions and a milestone was when Werksta merged with Autoklinikka in 2016 and thereby entered the Finnish market.
“During the past years, we have been rapidly developing into the forerunner in the industry thanks to our talented employees and great support from Procuritas,” Sahlgren says.
Headhunted by the owner: “I got only outstanding references about them”
Catherine Sahlgren took the role of CEO of Stockholm based Werksta in August 2019, leaving the position as CEO for Teknikmagasinet, a Swedish retail company that sells consumer electronics and gadgets. Before that, she managed the Nordic business for one of Europe’s leading self-service providers offering coffee solutions in the workplace.
“There has been a lot to learn. It is quite challenging to calculate how long damage takes to fix, how much it should cost and how much administrative work it involves. It is a complex operation which has many improvement opportunities,” she says.
Sahlgren has worked together with various PE-companies for more than 15 years but had limited knowledge of Procuritas when she entered the recruitment process for her current position.
“I knew little about Procuritas so I had to carry out some research. I contacted my friends and professional network. All the people I got in touch with gave only outstanding references,” she says.
What differentiates a private equity firm?
Werksta is rapidly expanding its workshop network through acquisitions and new establishments. As an owner Procuritas is supporting the decision making, as well as investing in process and service improvements.
“What you get when you have a private equity fund as an owner is someone who is really driven to develop the company along with the management,” Sahlgren says.
“What do you think differentiates Procuritas?”
Sahlgren acknowledges that it is hard to compare different private equity firms because one should have worked with each and everyone to be able to answer conclusively.
“My experience is that private equity firms can come in very hard. We find the Procuritas team to be both very clear in their communication and open-minded at the same time. I really feel we are developing the company together in a constructive way with a long-term perspective,” she answers.
Well-positioned to continue the growth journey
The company has grown into an industry leader in the Nordic region by focusing on offering excellent customer service and high quality with a competitive total repair cost.
According to Sahlgren, the company is now well-positioned to continue with its profitable growth journey along with Procuritas. The ambition is to double the market share within a few years.
“Procuritas plays an important role in ensuring that the company grows in the right way and makes the right decisions. They identified this market five years ago and set out to consolidate it and create the leading chain of independent car collision repair workshops. It is a rewarding journey to be a part of. So far, we are doing quite well, but there is still a lot of room for improvement,” she says.
The Werksta investment