MoDo 1949-1971

In 1949, Carl Kempe was appointed chairman of the board and Erik Kempe, a grandson to JC Kempe from his third marriage and representing the Seth branch, succeeded Carl as MD. The reason for this change between the two branches was that the “Frans branch” was unable to present a suitable successor to Carl. Erik and Carl’s comanagement of the company was not without frictions (Lyberg, 1984). In 1959, Erik Kempe suddenly died from a heart attack and due to the lack of successors in the family, Bengt Lyberg was appointed MD.3 Lyberg’s time in office until 1971 was characterized by a balancing of family interests. He was also surrounded by family representatives in the management team. Carl remained chairman of the board until 1965 when he was succeeded by his nephew Matts Carlgren. Matts took over the post as MD in 1971 and stepped down in 1985, remaining operative chairman of the board until 1990.

The Second World War opened up new opportunities. Pulp manufacturers in northern Sweden used their R&D departments to develop a range of spin-off products.4 The use of pulp for manufacturing paper was almost dimmed by all new uses arising as a consequence of the war experiments (cf. Hernod, 1942). As a result, the route for the future was under review (Melander, 1997).

In Sweden, the two dominating strategic alternatives5 were to integrate pulp with a production of paper or to develop the pulp industry into an organic chemical industry, that is, commercializing all by-products developed during the war. Of predictive importance was the decision of the largest pulp producer SCA in the mid-1950s to integrate with a production of newsprint and cardboard paper (Gaunitz, 1979).

MoDo, an important pulp producer in 1945, made no clear choice between the strategic alternatives, but there was an emphasis on continued investments in organic and later petrochemicals (Carlberg & Scholander, 1989). This consistent focus on pulp technology was anchored in the extensive R&D efforts. Peterson (1996) concluded that MoDo developed at least six industry-wide technology innovations after World War II.

In 1964, Bengt Lyberg announced that the company also decided to follow the first strategic alternative, and integrate the production of pulp with a production of paper. The decision was late when compared to the major competitors in the industry and implementation lasted. Production in Husum did not start until 1972. This decision was the starting point for several new investments. It was a daring investment both when it came to the size of the machine and the choice of paper grade (Lyberg, 1984). The

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