No stranger to the business, Hallin was raised in Arjeplog and lived in Colmis as a child, in his grandfather’s house which sat where FCA now has its offices. Hallin knows the business inside out. In 1989, just after turning 18, he drove trucks and supported his father, Harald Fjellström, who founded the company in 1985 and built it up from scratch before retiring last year.
How does a place ‘in the middle of nowhere’ become an automotive hub?
Colmis in particular, and Arjeplog as a region, offers a unique setting for cold climate testing. Temperatures in the winter season average around -15°C but it can reach -35°C or lower. Thanks to the town’s isolated location, scarce population and good international connections, customers can operate freely, away from public attention. Colmis itself started with only one workshop, one customer and one employee: my father. Now the business is a global leader in cold climate testing, with a portfolio that includes automotive manufacturers and suppliers from all over the world.
What is the origin of the proving ground’s name?
Colmis, ‘Kålmis’ in Swedish, is the name of the area where the proving ground is located. We love its authenticity and have therefore never considered any other name. The hospitality division, Simloc, spells Colmis backwards.
What makes Colmis so distinctive?
We listen to customers and try to anticipate their needs in order to offer a full cold climate testing solution. One of Colmis’s mottos is ‘everything you need, in one place’. We do our best to ensure that is true – whether it’s with cutting-edge facilities; development support through our ColmisPlus division with engineers, mechanics, drivers and instructors; through various events; or through Simloc, which offers accommodation in various forms, including apartments, hotels and private houses.
How is Colmis an open proving ground?
The business is open to everyone and any requirements – whether it is establishing a permanent winter test center or to simply rent workshops and tracks for a project.
In your role as MD, what are the main focuses?
It was not easy stepping into my father’s shoes. He had to make many hard decisions, and now this is my responsibility, but he was an excellent mentor for many years.
We are all unique and have different leadership styles, but the differences may not be visible as Colmis is much more than one person – it’s a team of hard-working people. It is thanks to this dedicated team that Colmis is where it is today, and it is these people who will continue to be the basis for further expansion.
Please tell us about Colmis’ ‘safety first’ concept?
It is our aim to offer the best service in the safest possible environment. This involves constantly revising and renewing our procedures. This goes well beyond the basics of first aid training or fencing the proving ground to avoid the entrance of wildlife, for example.
Colmis recently installed the latest version and renewed its contract with Rajd (a leading GPS monitoring system), which enables us to track where all vehicles are, observe restricted areas, and react faster in emergencies.
Mandatory driver training was also introduced in 2016. This was in response not only to a general trend in the industry, but to a consensus between Colmis and its customers that it is in the interest of everyone involved to have the highest level of safety across the proving ground.
What does the future hold for Colmis?
Business is thriving and the last few years we have broken records. We are working to keep up this positive trend. Facilities continue to increase in size, services and number of customers, and we are also preparing to respond to new energy demands with the rise of EVs, as well as to the requirements of autonomous vehicles. The specifics will depend on customers, as Colmis’s philosophy is to adapt and grow according to their needs.