Interview: HG CEO on future expansion
13 July 2023
Founded in 1971, HG is a family-owned company with a long history of innovation in the dumper space.
Although traditionally a producer of diesel-powered machines, in recent years its strategy for innovation has changed somewhat, with it now focusing on 100% electric machines.
The beginning of that journey started five years when HG launched its first electric machine, a one tonne dumper.
And then, three years ago the decision was made to fully focus on electric despite, by the admission of CEO Nikolaj Birkerod, “being known as a company that has a history of being a producer of combustion machines.”
Birkerod says that the early feedback received from the first electric dumper had played a big part in its decision to change focus; “We have learnt over the last six or seven years, where we had a one tonne electric dumper that could run 12 hours and charge in three, this idea around how long or how an electric machine should run.
“We had some really good positive feedback on that and wanted to scale that up into a two-tonne machine to see whether or not that was possible.”
Two tonne electric dumper launch
I first met Birkerod at the International Rental Exhibition in June. It was here that the company chose to unveil its latest electric innovation, the HG E2000 two tonne electric dumper.
According to HG, the dumper has a duty cycle of 12 hours and can be charged to full in 3.5 hours or up to 80% battery capacity in 2 hours.
The machine is equipped with an internal charger that can connect to a regular car charger using a 16A current or via 220V EU plug.
Of course, as with any electric machine, there is always some hesitance as to the performance, both in run time and capability to carry out the same standard of work that a diesel-powered alternative can.
“For us it’s about getting rid of this range of anxiety,” says Birkerod, who was appointed CEO in March last year. “Because you could say, does a dumper run 12 hours a day? No, but we have customers that it runs for two or three days before they need to charge, but the whole idea for them is that they don’t have to worry about range anxiety.”
At the time of the interview, the company had already received orders for 25 machines. When asked about the orders that have been placed, Birkerod says, “The first 25 machines are all going to Denmark. In fact, the first eight are going to the biggest contractor in Denmark, Aarsleff, who have taken part in the development of the machine.
“Those machines will be delivered in a matter of weeks to the company, while the remaining 17 will be delivered elsewhere in the country.”
With the launch of the HG E2000, the company now has three machines in its portfolio of electric machines, together with the HG E1000 ‘Super Skub’ and HG E1000 ‘Super Skub’ High Tip mini dumper.
A natural question to ask following on from these machines would be, what next for HG in terms of its product line? Stopping short of revealing any future launches, Birkerod says that much of the work is about improving what it already has; “The one and two tonne machines we have in the market today are continuously improving, reducing downtime, increasing efficiency and quality.
“We’re continuously working on that and also looking at other possibilities where we can implement our electric technology. It’s not available in the higher capacities, but the technology is developing.”
He also says the company is working on “refining the surveillance” of its machines in terms of monitoring service efficiency and ensuring that any software updates improves its existing lineup.
“What we’re interested in is learning from the machine and making software updates based on that and then improving the machines regularly,” Birkerod says.
“This is a project we are working really hard on. We are also investigating further projects but they’re not ready to be shared publicly yet.”
Another reason the company chose to exhibit at IRE was to gauge potential interest in new markets. The company currently has dealers in Denmark, Germany, Sweden, France and Spain, but that could soon change according to Birkerod. He tells IRN, “One of our goals from IRE was to see what kind of interest we could get from markets where we are not present today. We are working out how we will strategically approach that.
“As we speak, we are working on what is the actual interest in other areas and we have meetings scheduled over the next 2-3 months to see what the actual interests are and what are the possibilities (of appointing dealers in new markets).”
Birkerod goes on to say that the company is beginning to see an increase in interest in European markets as users acknowledge the need to “reduce carbon emissions and improve working conditions.”
In particular, he points towards Norway and the Netherlands as two countries in which it has some “interesting agreements” due to the “electrification agenda.”
“What we see is there’s a lot of interest from all European countries. I would say that there are bigger dumper markets than others, but we see a lot of interest, and that was reflected at IRE,” he says.
When asked about the future of the company, Birkerod is sure in his answer that not only does he see HG remaining as a family company, but also believes that may leave it well placed for further growth.
Birkerod says, “We have a history of being family owned and that’s very natural to us, that’s how we see our future growth. We can be aggressive, but it has to be organic.
“We don’t have any strategy or plans of selling the company. In the next five years, I think from how we have outlined our growth journey and strategy, we can finance that ourselves, so it’s not something we are looking for.”