“I’ve always got to try new things”

She thought she was going for a job interview with at a travel agency – but it turned out to be Ragn-Sells. During the 40 years that Agnetha Strandåker has worked for the company, she has found herself doing everything from going to the bank with money in a case locked to her wrist, to producing the first graphic manual and helping to write Ragnar Sellberg’s memoirs.

01 Nov 2020

- Time goes fast when you’re having fun, says Agnetha.

In March 1980, Agnetha Strandåker arrived in Stockholm from her home town of Falun, for an interview for what she thought was a job at a travel agency.

- It said travel agency in the advertisement. It was when I got to meet the then-CEO Lars Löfstedt that I realised I wasn’t at a travel agency, says Agnetha.

A few days later Agnetha got an call where they told her she had got the job, and she started at the end of March 1980.

- To begin with, I got to do a bit of everything. One of the most important jobs were the cakes, which had to be bought in when Ragnar was visiting. Those at Sveavägen (the head office for Ragn-Sells at the time) were crammed in together in an apartment with an open stove. Ragnar himself sat in a small service corridor and that was enough for him, she says.

Really fond of Ragnar

She has a lot of good memories of Ragnar – like the fact that he might come to work wearing a suit jacket, shirt and tie on his top half, but with work trousers tucked into rubberboots.

- So he could have meetings in his office, and then go out into the fields and slosh around in agricultural sludge. I was really fond of Ragnar. He was extremely straight-up and you got direct answers to your questions, and with my curiosity, I had questions about everything, says Agnetha.

From those days at Sveavägen, she clearly remembers having to go to the bank, which was a few hundred meters from the office.

- John, the senior accountant at the time, would padlock the case to my wrist. When I got to the bank, they unlocked it. John’s thinking was ‘if they take the money, they’ll also have to take you’ because I was a bit overbearing back then, says Agnetha.

Fried 2,500 rice balls at a trade fair

Back in the early 1980s, Agnetha was involved in implementing Ragn-Sells' first computer system.

- Ragn-Sells was one of the first companies to get a computer system. I looked after all contacts with the company’s founder. Some things were easier back then, says Agnetha.

For a few years, Agnetha worked a lot with the marketing director, Folke Jackson, among other things on raw materials, marketing and communication.

- I was involved in producing the first graphic manual, with a new colour scheme for vehicles and clothing. There were also many trade fairs, and the most popular one was definitely when we prepared meals from leftover food that was being thrown out, like pasta and rice. I can still remember frying up 2,500 rice balls, which proved to be a big success, Agnetha remembers.

In 1992 she helped to write Ragnar Sellberg’s book “Mitt liv till påseende” [My life at a glance].

- I was given a huge pile of handwritten notes to struggle with. I also wrote down Ragnar’s stories from his farms in Dalsland, where he had recorded interviews with farmers onto cassette tapes, says Agnetha.

Given the opportunity to develop

During her 40 years at Ragn-Sells, Agnetha also got to work with property and finances, and as secretary to the managing director. These days she works at the reception at the Ragn-Sells head office at Väderholmens gård.

- Here I get to deal with the conference, organise festive events and, help out with various things, which suits me very well, as I don’t like sitting still in front of a screen all day, says Agnetha.

The reason she has stayed with the company for so long is that she has flourished here and has always been presented with new assignments and challenges.

- By the time I had grown tired of something, I was given a chance to try something else because I have always had such great bosses. I’ve been given the opportunity to develop by going on different courses and getting new assignments. Time flies when you’re having fun, says Agnetha in conclusion.