Auto Recycling World speaks to Tom Grønvold, owner and managing director of Norway-based vehicle dismantling operation GBD (GRØNVOLDS BIL-DEMONTERING AS), on the auto recycling industry in Norway, including the effect suffering a near-fatal accident had on his philosophy to running his business, as well as being a European market-leaders in EV recycling.
GBD – How it all began
The company was established in 1992 when Jan Grønvold bought the bankrupt estate, Brumunddal Bilvrakplass. He built up the company in a very thrifty way through many years, establishing connections and agreements with insurance companies for buying condemned cars for dismantling. He also advertised a lot for wreck deposit cars in local newspapers and other forms of media at the time. By the mid-90s, the company started to import newer vehicles for dismantling from Denmark and Germany. The company grew from 1-2 men to 6-7 within a few years.
Philosophy after Near-Fatal Accident
Jan’s son, Tom Grønvold, joined the company in 2000 and took over as CEO in 2012. Tom suffered a near-fatal Motocross accident in September 2010. He suffered a spinal cord injury leaving him completely paralyzed from the chest and down. After a six-month hospital stay and rehabilitation process, he was back to work 100% and has been working 100-150% for the last 12 years, although he has been declared 90% medically disabled.
Tom used work as the main tool in rehabilitation and familiarized himself thoroughly with the company’s structure by looking into the company’s potential to find opportunities. He took time to consider the value of all aspects of the cars they had in their yard, from disassembly to which parts, correct marking, and correct pricing to selling in the correct markets at home and abroad.
This has led to enormous growth where from 2012 to 2022, GBD has grown from 10 to 40 employees and increased turnover from 1.2 million euros in 2012 to 11,8 mill euros in 2022.
Relationships with Insurance Companies
According to Tom, GBD has framework agreements with almost all leading insurance companies in Norway. They collect all cars for them in an area larger than Denmark and Benelux combined. Collaboration with insurance companies is becoming more and more fruitful as they have now been given enormous responsibility with regard to the green shift, circular economy and sustainability.
The biggest growth in the last two years has been in body parts delivered for damage repairs for insurance companies. GBD offers good prices and guarantees equivalent to new parts in damage repairs for the insurance companies.
Exports of used parts, engines and high-energy batteries have exploded in the last five years, primarily due to targeted marketing on Google and Facebook etc. Norway also entered the Swedish, Finnish and Danish markets strongly via bildelsbasen.se and laga.se. Currently, these exports amount to about 25-30% of the total turnover. Strictly speaking, the Norwegian market is very small, and in order to achieve the growth GBD wanted, it was a necessary step to take and one in which the company has really succeeded.
Is there room for illegal vehicle recycling operators in Norway?
Legislation for auto recyclers is very strict, with frequent checks and inspections. Therefore, it is very clear to follow. Fortunately, there are very few non-serious or illegal businesses within the auto recycling industry in Norway.
EV recycling Norway
For many years, Norway has had very good incentives for the purchase of electric cars. The cars have, until recently, been sold without VAT and taxes. Therefore, Norway has the world’s highest proportion of electric cars per capita.
GBD started early with the dismantling of electric cars. They have trained many mechanics in handling high-voltage batteries and electricity. They have handled and sold approx. 1500 high-energy batteries to most countries in Europe, the USA and Australia. The majority of these batteries go to energy storage and the electrical conversion of cars, boats, and construction machinery.
Tom said: “We are the market leader in Europe for electric car parts and electric car batteries. The high-energy battery is the new diesel engine and is what we will make the most money from in the future. Electric cars are here to stay. And we think it is very exciting and fun to be an industry leader in this area.”
If you would like to find out more about GBD (Grønvold), please visit gbd.no