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Building a strong community


The company is based on Zealand, Denmark’s largest island, on which the capital Copenhagen is situated. It specializes in construction projects up to a value of 30 million EUR, primarily in the area of social housing. Its core business is refurbishment – from the installation of new windows, floors, roofs, and toilets up to complete interior and exterior renovation – although the company also undertakes new-build projects as well.

Many houses in Denmark were built in the 1950s and 1960s and so the renovation of living accommodation is big business. The population in the region is growing; approximately 1,000 people move to the Copenhagen area every month, many of them students, so small apartments form a large proportion of Anker Hansen’s work, together with new schools, kindergartens, and homes for the elderly.

The company currently has about ten projects in progress, 80% of which are refurbishments and include a new town hall for a local municipality. “Our prices are extremely competitive, we make decisions very fast and, as a middle-sized firm, we are much more flexible than larger companies,” says CEO Erik Bech-Pedersen.

It is, however, its approach to recruitment that really differentiates Anker Hansen from the competition and created its reputation as a role model within the wider business world in Denmark. The company operates in line with three core values: responsibility, professionalism and clarity.

Within its scope of operations for social housing and municipal projects, it builds living and learning accommodation for many of the disadvantaged members of society. It is to precisely this group of people that the company tries to offer further support by providing employment opportunities which would otherwise be difficult for them to come by.

“We try to give all kinds of people a chance,” explains Sales and Marketing Manager Helmut Melcher. “Whether they are ex-prisoners, people who left school with no qualifications, or refugees – people who are all trying to create a new life for themselves from a challenging start point – we try to provide the opportunity for them to learn new skills and enter the job market. We are trying to do something for the community and it makes us very proud to give people a chance to live a better life. It is, of course, an all-round win-win situation; we often get some really good employees and they are ultimately very loyal to the company because we gave them that chance. In addition, the companies and local authorities that work with us recognize that we are doing something special and they value and respect our approach. Many of them choose to work with us for this reason.”

Today the company has around 60 employees, many of them engineers and other highly educated people, as well as 20 or so brick layers and carpenters; other construction companies are engaged to provide other specialist skills as and when required.

Until now, Anker Hansen has worked principally for local authority clients and social housing associations. In recent times, however, a new market has started to emerge in the form of private investors and pension funds.

“Carlsberg, for example, recently sold a lot of land in Copenhagen,” notes Mr. Melcher, “The area will be rebuilt with housing for an artist community. They are building flats, schools and kindergartens, in fact a whole new town within Copenhagen. We very much want to be part of this project. At the moment the market climate in Denmark is very good. A large number of companies from Germany and other German-speaking countries are coming here, because the government is initiating a lot of new projects to keep the unemployment rate down, so there are a lot of excellent contracts to be won.”

Mr. Bech-Pedersen attributes Anker Hansen’s success to a number of factors. “Knowing your own DNA is critical,” he says. “We keep things simple and create revenue for our customers. We are a modern company with an excellent culture and core values which mean we strive to make life better within the communities in which we operate. Our size means that we can adapt very quickly to changing markets and, perhaps most importantly, we have a clear vision of what we want to be – that very special company that gives an extraordinary experience.”

New business is acquired to a large extent by word of mouth. “We have a great relationship with architects, engineers and customers,” says Mr. Melcher. “Denmark is a small country and everybody knows everybody else so word of mouth is an important marketing tool.”

The company is extremely optimistic about its future. “Our order books are full right now, which means we can select the projects that we really want to be involved in,” sums up Mr. Melcher.

Anker Hansen currently achieves an annual turnover of around 45 to 50 million EUR, and has set itself a target of doubling this by 2020. With its top quality service added to the ability to attract customers and partners through its approach to corporate social responsibility, a highly successful future seems to beckon.

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