GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Bertil Thoren is very busy these days.
Volvo Car Corp.'s purchasing chief never knows from one day to the next just what is in store for him - and he likes it that way.
Since Ford bought Volvo Car in April, Thoren has been working longer hours than he is used to. His telephone rings at all times of the day or night. That's because he must keep in constant touch with Ford's purchasing staff in Dearborn, Mich., six hours behind Gothenburg time.
Every two weeks or so, Thoren meets with Ford purchasing czar Carlos Mazzorin, in person or via teleconference. On the day Automotive News Europe visited Gothenburg, Thoren was meeting with a number of top purchasing officials, including Hans-Peter Kunze, Ford of Europe's vice president of purchasing.
'The integration work takes a lot of time,' Thoren said. 'The work is hard but fun.'
Thoren, 49, is a Volvo veteran. He is plainly thrilled to be in charge of purchasing at Volvo during the company's integration with Ford. He likes working with Americans and believes Americans and Swedes make ideal business partners.
Since the Ford takeover, Volvo's purchasing operation has been turned upside down.
The two companies are studying how they can combine Volvo's $5 billion annual purchasing budget with Ford's $80 billion budget.
By purchasing components from the same suppliers whenever possible, the two companies hope to save money by buying in volume.
'I should be very disappointed if we on the Volvo side don't save at least 10 percent,' Thoren said.
With such a huge difference between the purchasing power of the two companies, what could Volvo possibly hope to bring to the party? Plenty, Thoren believes.
'Volvo has been known to have good relationships with its suppliers,' Thoren said. Because of its small size, Volvo had to cultivate good relationships, whereas Ford more often relied on its strength, he said.
Thoren believes Volvo might be able to teach Ford how to cultivate better supplier relations on a more personal basis.
Ford and Volvo purchasing teams have assembled a list of 50 to 70 components in matched pairs. They are working through the lists, comparing prices and trying to see if the lists can be simplified. Volvo has a list of about 500 suppliers; Ford has nearly three times that.
'We're chasing synergies by comparing prices,' Thoren said.
Thoren is a newcomer to the purchasing end of the business; he just started his job in April. But he is well prepared for it, having held a variety of jobs in his 25-year career at Volvo.
He began as a computer systems specialist in Volvo Parts and moved on to logistics and administrative development. He eventually became Volvo's logistics chief. Immediately before the purchasing job, he headed Volvo's 800 series car program.