Absorbest works with global market leaders and distributors – more than 95 per cent of our manufactured products are exported; at the same time we are an organisation with a strong local presence. This makes us accessible, flexible and versatile, which yields considerable advantages for Absorbest, our clients and end-users of our products. Absorbest’s offering includes our own product range and virtual manufacturing (formerly OBL) solutions with varying production volumes. We offer custom packaging and can develop new product solutions on request.
Production at Absorbest takes place in Kisa, Sweden. The majority of our dedicated and knowledgeable personnel work in Kisa, on everything from development and production to distribution. We also have a presence on the Central European market. Our objective is to remain at the cutting edge of healthcare development and innovation. We will achieve this by remaining curious and understanding what it is that delivers the greatest possible benefits for caregivers and patients. With this in mind, we aim to be accessible, to build trust through consistent performance, and to drive business growth.
“We are a strong team in Kisa, and through our close cooperation with our partners we have built a good platform for the future. On this solid foundation we will continue to develop innovative solutions that deliver quality of life.”
– Hans Karlsson, CEO
Absorbest was the first company in the world to produce a superabsorbent mat for operating theatres. Today, our products are sold all over the world. This success story begins in Kisa in 1997, with an entrepreneur deciding to quit his old job.
Rolf Rovaniemi has worked with product development for most of his life. First as a development engineer at Lilla Edet’s paper mill and then as head of development for nappies and absorbent materials for feminine hygiene products for Duni at Swedish Tissue in Kisa. When the company chose to shut down that part of its business, Rolf left the company. He took with him his knowledge and ideas about absorption, as well as a vision of developing world-class absorbents.
At the age of 47, Rolf started Absorbest in partnership with Torbjörn Hansen.
“In hindsight, being a little bit older was an advantage. The economic approach was already in place, but I brought with me valuable experience from product development, production, quality and sales,” says Rolf.
Absorbest soon made contact with the fishing industry and developed an absorbent mat for fish transportation. Rolf chased customers day and night in Norway, and after many a sleepless night his perseverance paid off and the business got off the ground. During the first year, absorbent products for the fishing industry were produced by hand at the factory here in Kisa, with a small team assembling and packing the orders.
“I mortgaged my house so I could afford to invest in machinery. I’d never have done that if I didn’t believe in my idea,” says Rolf.
However, Rolf and Torbjörn wanted to develop more products because the scope for use of absorbents within the fishing industry was somewhat limited. What other markets were there, where large amounts of fluid were a problem? The answer was health and social care.
Rolf contacted the chief surgeon at the Ryhov hospital in Jönköping, Sweden, before visiting the hospital to give a presentation about Absorbest’s product. Nobody at the hospital was free to watch a product demonstration until Rolf placed the mat in a bucket of water. Impressed by the mat’s absorptive capacity, the staff gathered around and began suggesting ideas on how the product could be of benefit in their own work.
Absorbest became the first company in Sweden – and the world – to manufacture mats for operating theatres using superabsorbents. With the help of a German partner, DryMax quickly gained a foothold in the European market. Success followed and soon Rolf and Torbjörn became interested in wound care products. They hit upon the idea while attending a trade fair, where they saw the world’s first commercial superabsorbent dressing.
“We realised immediately that we could do the exact same thing. There was tough competition, but our product would be better,” says Rolf. And that is how our DryMax technology was born.
Since then, Absorbest has continued to grow steadily. We have improved our products and developed new ones at our laboratory. In parallel with this, we have established a clearer position as a medtech company with a sustainability strategy. We are currently also investing in the US market, although the company is keeping its base in Kisa.
“I want the company to survive here. It is important for the area. Our employees should enjoy working here and have an opportunity to develop.”
Rolf himself said that he would retire several years ago.
“It’s too much fun though. And I don’t have sleepless nights these days!”