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My first New Year’s resolution
January 2009
by Chris Anderson  |  Email the author

I've never been one to make New Year's resolutions, but I do see the very beginning of the year as a time to take a look back at what I have accomplished, look forward to the possibilities of a new year and remind myself of the things that are important in this life.

So it was perhaps a bit of serendipity as 2008 turned to 2009 that I found myself talking on the phone with Prof. Jörgen Hermansson, founder and managing director of ChromTech, a supplier of chromatography columns to the industry. Seems it was time for Hermansson and his wife, Inger, to retire, and the last little bit of business before he could do that was to sell the company he founded more than 23 years ago.

I had never spoken with Jörgen before, though I was familiar with his company and our "meeting" (if that's what you call a phone conversation from Maine to Cheshire, England) lasted all of 40 minutes. It was the best 40 minutes I've had on the phone in a long time.

I called to interview him and get the particulars on the sale of his company to Chiral Technologies. It being the end of the work day (and then some) in England, and me on deadline (aren't we always?), I was determined not to waste either his or my time. I was all business.

Yet there was something that came through in the phone call that I could never convey in the story of this business deal. Sure, the Hermanssons were retiring, and it was time to retire, but as Jörgen talked about his company and its sale, I could hear something else in his voice—an almost paternal love of the company he had built from the ground up. It was very important to him that the purchasing company would be one that would understand his products and continue to nurture them.

I also discovered that he had moved his company to England from Sweden roughly eight years ago. When I asked him why, he answered, somewhat sheepishly, that he and his wife had friends in Cheshire and he wanted to be near them.

When the interview was over, I revealed that my grandparents were from Sweden—grandfather from Gothenburg, grandmother from Jonköping. We agreed we both liked Gothenburg better than Stockholm, the West Coast of Sweden better than the East Coast and the Baltic.

When I asked if he was going to return to Sweden after the deal was completed, he hedged, then said that the intention was to keep the house in England, as well as a place he had in Spain, and that he was looking to buy another house north of Gothenburg on the ocean.

When I told him I was envious, he gave an embarrassed chuckle. What Jörgen might not have know was that I wasn't envious for the things he had, but rather, the life that he has lived, and is still living.

Again, without knowing him, it appears Jörgen has carved out a life of purpose, on purpose, doing something he loves. So perhaps, this year I'm making a resolution to find a way to live more like that.

God speed, Jörgen. May your retirement be long and happy. DDN



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