By Derrick Knutson —
A footwear-centered business in Chisago City is looking to clog up the marketplace … with clogs.
Ugglebo Clogs, which has been producing the Swedish standby in a small town just off the Baltic Sea since 1965, is in the process of transforming how its American operations are run.
Dave Giese, the company’s president, recently instituted an intern program that brings recent graduates with business and marketing-related degrees from Sweden to the United States to work for the company.
So far, Giese, whose father-in-law took over the family business in Sweden in the 1970s and later got him involved with the company, said the program has been a huge success.
“I’m really impressed with where we’ve come just in the past six months with our website, some of the infrastructure systems and our ability to reach out to our customers,” he said.
The three interns live in a townhouse not far from Brink’s Market, where Ugglebo’s American operations are centered.
One of the interns, Fredrik Eklund, has been in Minnesota since June working for the company, and he said he’s learned a lot about how to run a business from the experience.
“It’s been really awesome,” he said. “I’m kind of an entrepreneurial guy, and I just jumped on this opportunity to come over here and help a small business grow and profit.”
Intern Josefine Thommasson said the internship is allowing her to implement many of the skills she learned in school.
“My field has been more the technical side of it,” she said. “I’ve learned so much about how to connect the technical side with the marketing side. I’ve also been able to practice building a website and maintaining it.”
Rounding out the trio of interns is Christoffer Asmundsson.
He’s currently working as Ugglebo’s supply chain manager.
“It’s particularly interesting to me to actually be working with Swedish products,” he said. “I’m working a lot with corporate social responsibility here for the company.”
Thriving in a sluggish economy
One might think a fashion-based business like producing and selling clogs would be having a tough time surviving in a downturned economy, but Giese said that’s not the case.
He noted shortly after he got involved with the company, there was a “resurgence” in clog sales.
“Clogs go in and out of fashion and they went in fashion right at the height of the financial crisis,” he said. “Things are good right now and we expect quite a bit of growth over the next few years.”