The history of Husqvarna
The Rifle Factory Era – 1620 – 1876
The weapon smithing tradition in Huskvarna can be traced way back to the inception of the Rumlaborg fortress in the 1300’s , which gave its name to the company and the town. In 1620 Jönköpings Gevärsfaktori (rifle factory), was founded by the King, Gustav II Adolf, as one of five in the country, thereby formalizing the manufacturing of arms. In 1689 a drilling works in Huskvarna was established by the factory and this this signifies the beginning of a new high efficiency era. Production was then moved gradually from Jönköping to Husqvarna, and in 1757 the factory was privatized and was soon renamed Husqvarna Gevärsfaktori. When Husqvarna received new weapon orders in 1867, an incorporated company was founded with the name Husqvarna Vapenfabriks (armament factory) Aktiebolag (incorporated company). At the same time a new, modern workshop was built (today’s museum) and in 1872, Husqvarna started producing sewing machines, due to declining weapon orders. Two years later, in 1874, a foundry was built. Business was, however, bad after sales losses, from the first sewing machine and large investments in building the workshop and foundry. No further orders were placed by the national defence by the end of 1876 and Husqvarna was facing a very difficult situation.
The Tham Era – 1877 – 1945
In the middle of these difficulties, a new director was appointed, who would soon start developing the company into a modern industry. Under the guidance of Wilhelm Tham, production was focused on the civilian market and in the coming decades, many new products were developed, products such as hunting weapons, stoves, cookers, bicycles, motorcycles and household products. After a couple of years business was very good, resulting in Tham finanzing a number of social institutions such as a school, a church and dwellings, which tied the skilled workers to the company and the area. Moreover, the whole society was in a period of transition where urbanization was seriously taking off. Large numbers of people left farming for a life in the cities and for the first time they became real consumers. Husqvarna became the producer of these various civilian products. At the decease of Wilhelm Tham in 1911, the company had not only increased its sales 35 times, Tham had also turned Huskvarna into a real town. In 1912, his son, Gustaf Tham, already Vice President, was appointed President, along with his cousin Wilhelm Göransson. Gustaf Tham was a motor cycle enthusiast and motor cycle production became quite significant in the coming years. This also applied to the foundry business, including military weapons, manufactured during the world wars. In 1877 when Wilhelm Tham became President, the company had 180 employees. Gustaf Tham, his son, resigned as President in 1946, by which time the number of employees was 4,000 at the factory in Husqvarna and 6,000 in the whole group. There is no doubt, that the Tham family had an incredibly heavy impact on Husqvarna’s success.
The Postwar Era – 1946 – 1977
To cope with rearrangements after World War II, Husqvarna once again invested very heavily in the civilian market’s emerging need of household items. Gustaf Tham eventually retired and management of the company was taken over by an engineer, Thure Öberg. His background was in the foundry business and he had previously managed the affiliated company, Norrahammars Bruk (factory). He he was well versed in many technical areas and during his years of management, the development of microwave technology got off to a very good start. The development of the welfare state enforced the construction of dwellings to be well equipped, and the production of stoves, fridges and washing machines was very high during this time. The good years of the 1950’s contributed to high living standards for most people and to a wave of consumption of unpredicted dimensions. Huge quantities of home and household products for different lifestyles, were manufactured at Husqvarna, the one model more modern than the other. Organizational changes were made in the company during the 1960’s and some items disappeared from the production line, paradoxically and symbolically such as parts of the arms production, which was sold to FFV, Förenade Fabriksverken in Eskilstuna (the arms producer of the Swedish State). The large iron foundry at Husqvarna, was closed down in 1971, although some casting still continued for a while, for some sewing machine models. The company changed its name to Husqvarna AB and a new logotype was introduced.
Husqvarna and Electrolux 1978 – 2005
The latter years of the 1970’s were characterized by very strong winds of change and in 1977, the big Swedish company Electrolux purchased Husqvarna. The company then became a subsidiary of the Electrolux Group, which in the years to come, streamlined Husqvarna almost completely into a forestry and horticultural company. This caused a huge reversal in the product range, and in less than ten years the motorcycle production was sold to Italy. In 1989 the last shotgun was delivered and eventually the sewing machine line was also cut off from the company. Electrolux also acquired Partner, Jonsered and a number of American and Canadian forestry and horticultural companies. In 1999 the European part of the U.S. company McCulloch, was purchased. McCulloch produced, amongst other things, light chainsaws and trimmers.
A Revitalized Husqvarna – 2006-
In 2006 Electrolux cut off Husqvarna, which again became an independent company. The company continued on the path of forestry and horticultural products, as its primary goal. In January 2012, the company changed its company name to Husqvarna Group, but the legal name still remains Husqvarna AB.
Today Husqvarna Group is the world’s largest producer of outdoor power products including robotic lawn mowers, garden tractors, chainsaws and trimmers. The Group is also the European leader in consumer watering products and one of the worldwide leaders in cutting equipment and diamond tools for the construction and stone industries. The Group’s products and solutions are sold through dealers and retailers in more than 100 countries. The product range covers both consumer and professional products.
The Husqvarna brand is also, currently, used by three more companies, Viking Sewing Machines (VSM, sewing machines), Electrolux (appliances), Husqvarna Motorcyckles (motorcycles) and Husqvarna Bicycles (electric bicycles).