To lead or control?
" Already as a child Maître Restaurateur Mia Spendrup decided she wanted to be a boss "
Already as a child Maître Restaurateur Mia Spendrup decided she wanted to be a boss. “Because you will be in charge” she says. Later in life she understood that “to be a leader” is much better and so she has continued in this vein. Mia has worked with food and service in different positions during her entire career. “Hard to imagine anything else”, she says.
Today she manages a small village with 54 buildings including a church and about a hundred employees. She thrives just like a fish in water. In the magical forest of Bergslagen where serenity is total you find Loka Brunn, a place which has given people so much vitality.
During the Middle Ages this place was already popular with pilgrims and Swedish Royals. King Gustav III planted a vegetable garden in the 1700s from which today’s chefs harvest herbs daily. From the magnificent indoor pool area, you are close to the woodland’s black lake with a lot of secrets in its depth.
There are two explanations as to why Mia is at Loka Brunn. The first and foremost is love and the second is business. Jens Spendrup, a fourth generation member of the Swedish family-owned brewery, laid eyes on Mia at a meeting and has never let her out of his sight. His courtship was intense. To be on the safe side Jens told Mia’s former boss that they were going to get married - some time. Mia thought that was kind of cute. Three years later they tied the knot.
When mineral water became an everyday beverage the need to expand increased, also the price. Jens wanted Loka to be its own signature water. Also to have control over the entire chain and buy the springs in Bergslagen. However, the owner, a Royal Foundation, said no.
As we have come to understand, Jens as a persistent person. He waited and then asked again. Loka Brunn now had economic difficulties. The response was a counter bid, “All of Loka Brunn including everything … or nothing at all”. The decision was easy. Jens sent a letter to the King of Sweden and asked permission.
With “Loka Brunn Hotell & Konferens” incorporated into the brewery portfolio an experienced manager was needed. Mia was asked. She declined at first but quickly changed her mind deciding that as CEO of Loka Brunn she would be involved in the necessary restoration work of all Loka’s unique buildings. “I just love construction meetings”, she says. Everything has now been carefully renovated. The picturesque church at the heart of the village has a long history.
“To lead staff is hard, challenging and fantastic”, Mia says. “Since we are the largest employer in the area we have a responsibility to secure jobs and make everyone happy so they will stay with us” she explains. Despite the great shortage of chefs, the ones joining Loka, if only for a short time, want to stay on. Mia is generous with inspirational and development opportunities for the kitchen staff.
A good relationship with food is in her genes. The chefs are now used to having Mia hanging around the pots and pans. She has a healthy appetite. She likes moose, lamb and beef, in that order. “I love meat” she says. Only really good meat gets her approval.
Mia is nowadays a grandmother, training freak, and horse owner. Her interest in horses has been off and on. From the stage of being completely horse crazy Mia became terrified. Now, once again, she has returned to the world of horses. At the family’s stud farm, horses running free light up everybody’s existence. Mia’s new Icelandic horse is both for riding and therapy. “I read that most female CEOs started their life in the stable” she says, “That’s the place to learn to lead rather than control.”
Mia has practiced her profession well which has been recognised by the King of Sweden who awarded her the HM The King’s Medal in the 5th size*. The citation stated “for significant efforts in the Swedish hospitality industry with cultural heritage profile”.
“We work hard and focus on preserving our cultural treasure. We look forward to greet the King and Queen again as our guests in beautiful Bergslagen”, Mia says. And everybody else of course! Loka Brunn is a place for meetings, relaxation and recreation.
Translation into English by Margareta Henry, Chargée de Missions Honoraire
[*Ed. The King’s Medal categories are graded by size up to the 12th]