Since April 2015, the family business has been based in this building directly on the riverfront near Oslo. The building dates back to 1882 and was recently renovated using environmentally friendly materials wherever possible. That's where I wait for my interview with Jørgen Jørgensen, Norrøna's CEO.
Gore and Norrøna have a long history. They say that in 1976 they were the first company in Europe to order a roll of the GORE-TEX membrane. The first jacket made with GORE-TEX technology is up on their ‘History Wall’ at the headquarters in Oslo.
Jørgen, you are leading your family business in the fourth generation. Was that always a dream of yours?
My father started bringing me to work when I was very young. I had a key to the office, so I got used to the machines quite early on. I even started making some clothing back when I was a kid. Since the outdoors has always been a big passion of mine, I wanted to continue the track of our family business. Making clothing and loving the outdoors is just a great combination from my point of view.
“It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle.”
Where do you draw your inspiration and motivation?
I learn a lot from the job, but for me, it’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle. Wherever I go, I’m always thinking about our products and how to improve them. It’s just second nature; it’s always been there for me. Being one of the best brands takes a lot of work. When I hike up a mountain, just being outdoors in nature, I have a lot of time to think, also about new ideas.
What’s your secret to success?
It’s probably hard work and dedication. If we want to deliver the highest quality and long-lasting products, of course it takes a lot of work. It’s also about getting the right people involved. Since we do everything in house, we have a lot of knowledge. If we want to continue to innovate, we need to do more and more in the company.
“Every year we donate 1 % of our total revenue to causes and organizations that promote sustainability and green initiatives.” - Jørgen Jørgensen
You are continuously working towards becoming a 100 % sustainable company. Are you happy with the results you’ve achieved already?
So far there are a lot of goals we are on track with. It’s going to be a challenge to meet all our goals in total, but I’m quite pleased with where we are right now. We wanted drastic changes internally. We wanted to be inspirational as well as transparent. We are already investing 1 % of our turnover to support preventing climate change. Still, to sleep well at night we need to try much harder. The roadmap starting 2020 is set to be a really tough one.
Your 2020 CSR roadmap explains your ambition to be a leader in environmental and social responsibility within the outdoor industry.
Corporate social responsibility is an integrated part of all our operations. For me, the only way to build a responsible organization is to integrate it into your daily work. Our goal is, for example, that all of our employees travel to work in the most eco-friendly way and 98 % of our employees do so at least 75 % of the time.
How do you integrate social responsibility into your daily life?
Every human being should be responsible. I’m not perfect and living totally sustainably is hard. For example, I can’t change the fact that I need to fly once in a while. But don’t look at it in black and white terms. I choose brands that are sustainable; I try to do my best personally. Yet the biggest impact I can have is with this company. I’m a problem solver, which is one of the things I enjoy doing most.
The CSR Roadmap
Norrøna’s ambition is to be a leader in environmental and social responsibility within the outdoor industry. They offer products made according to the highest environmental and ethical standards. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an integrated part of operations and is the basis of their 2020 strategy, which you can find here.
More about Norrøna and GORE-TEX?
Take a peek behind the scenes of the creation of Sigrid’s own GORE-TEX jacket with Norrøna’s Head of RD&D Alexandre Aubry.