Svedbro Smide AB (1878 – 1940)
Svedbro Smide’s history begins at the end of the 19th century with the blacksmith Gustav Tiderman. In 1878 he founded a waterfall forge in Svedbro, by Annån, which crosses the road between Gnarp and Bergsjö, about a mile from the village of Gränsfors. However, the forge went bankrupt after only one year and Svedbros smith was then taken over by Johan Sjölander, who ran it for about 12 years. At Johan’s death around 1890, the forge was sold by Johan’s widow, Kajsa-Stina, to Anders Erik Bergqvist, who in turn let his son Erik Bergqvist take over the smith in 1924. Erik was a trained blacksmith and farrier, and married to Britta. In 1941 Erik died and Britta took over responsibility for the forge. Britta then decided, in contrast to what her predecessor the blacksmith Kajsa-Stina had done half a century earlier, to keep the Svedbro smith.
Britta ran the forge for six years under the name “Erik Bergqvist Smide Sterbhus” with the help of John Enander and the blacksmith Rudolf Larsson. It manufactured welded high-pressure boilers, water heaters among other things. Lack of materials during the Second World War, however caused this production to stop. Instead, “Flåhacker”, “Timmersaxar” and Lifting hooks continued to be manufactured.
Collaboration with Gränsfors Bruk (1940 – 1960)
In 1943, John Enander’s nephew, Per Enander, 22, began working as an apprentice in the Svedbro forge with Britta. A lot of contract forging was now forged at O Erikssons Järnhandel in Bergsjö. After a few years, Per married Britta’s one daughter Elsie and in 1947 took over the Svedbro forge. The forge then also changed its name to Svedbro Smidesfabrik. Per continued to subcontract to the hardware store in Bergsjö and in 1948 an older version of crowbars began to be manufactured and sold to the axe company Gränsfors Bruk AB. In 1951, a collaboration was also started between Svedbro Smidesfabrik and the Stockholm-based company Skogsdon AB. Where a variety of forest tools were manufactured for Skogsdon AB.
In 1952, Gränsfors Bruk’s owner Torgny Eriksson, office manager Axel Bäckström and salesman Tore Vestin contacted Svedbro Smidesfabrik and wanted them to start manufacturing a new crowbar model where Gränsfors Bruk would provide the steel. The crowbars were given to the TOVE brand after the seller Tore Vestin. The model was based on a model that Svedbro Smide had been manufacturing since 1942. However, the cooperation between the two companies did not work well, as the steel often ran out and Gränsfors Bruk often withdrew payments to Svedbro Smidesfabrik. In 1960, Per Enander received an offer to become workshop manager at Gränsfors Bruk, after Axel Wennerström, and at the same time sell Svedbro Smidesfabrik to Gränsfors Bruk. Per said no. Instead, Per built a new forge in Gnarp with the help of Gnarp municipality. Both Per and his wife Elsie worked there until they retired in 1985.
The Swedish state buys and sells (1960 – 1985)
During the 1960s, not only crowbars and forest tools were manufactured at Svedbro Smidesfabrik, they also manufactured forest machines. In 1961, Skogsdon AB, a company whose business concept was to “develop and sell everything a forest worker needed”, became a minority partner in Svedbro Smidesfabrik. In 1971, Skogsdon was bought by the state “Domänverket” (now Sveaskog) and Svedbro Smidesfabrik then got the Swedish state as a partner. In 1978, Skogsdon bought all the shares in Svedbro Smidesfabrik, which at the same time changed its name to Svedbro Smide AB. In the same year, Skogsdon bought and merged with the competitor Nordforest Skogstillbehör AB, which had offices and warehouses in Säter. In connection with this, Skogsdon moved its head office from Stockholm and the warehouse, which had been adjacent to Svedbro since the 1960s, to the Säter.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Svedbro Smide manufactured around 50 different forest tools in addition to crowbars and contract products. However, sales of forest tools, which were sold through Skogsdon, later Nordforest Skogsdon, decreased as a result of the number of active forest workers decreasing as mechanization in forestry increased. Important products at this time included Stalpen and planting equipment, for instance a new planting pipe.
In 1982, Domänverket sold Svedbro Smide to Gabriel Brånby. He had previously been CEO of Skogsdon 1977 – 1980. In 1985, Svedbro Smide bought the then bankrupt Gränsfors Bruks AB, which was the beginning of a new journey.
Svedbro Smide + Gränsfors Bruk (1985 – 2005)
1985 Svedbro Smide bought the company Gränsfors Bruk. Svedbro Smide forged crowbars and forest tools in Gnarp with a technology similar to that found at Gränsfors. The two operations were administratively merged into one unit under the name Gränsfors Bruks AB.
In 1988, Gränsfors Bruk sold the forest tool business to Sandvik’s subsidiary Eia, and Gränsfors Bruk concentrated more on the manufacture of axes, wood splitters, Stalpen, planting pipes and crowbars. Some time later, the manufacturing of planting tubes was also sold to the Finnish company Lännen. Since 2005, the operations divided again at Gränsfors Bruks Crowbar forage in Gnarp and Gränsfors Bruks Axe forage in Gränsfors. During the separation between the companies, Gränsfors Bruks Crowbar forage in Gnarp also changed its name to Gränsfors Smide in Gnarp AB.
Svedbro Smide Today (Since 2015)
In recent years, there has been a gradual generational change within the company, where two of Gabriel’s sons, Adam and Daniel, have taken over. In January 2015, the circle closes in the company’s name journey. In order to avoid being mixed up with the sister company Gränsfors Bruk AB and at the same time link to the company’s long history, Gränsfors Smide in Gnarp AB returns to the name the company had when it started in 1878; Svedbro Smide AB.
Several Swedish forges have been forced to close.. However, Svedbro Smide has done well, despite two very large financial crises during the 2000s and the large relocation of production from Sweden to low-wage countries. Svedbro Smide has gradually increased sales and today sells crowbars, Stalpen and the breaking tools to about thirty countries.