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Thread: Erik Antonberg Short History
09-25-2008, 09:54 AM #1
Erik Antonberg Short History
I got this in my email compliments from some of the people over at Bahco, it has a short history of the manufacturer EAB. Helps to date some of their razors and get an idea of how they were made.
The story of Erik Anton Berg in short terms...
This is a short summary of the life of Mr Erik Anton Berg and his company E. A Bergs Fabriks AB (E.A. Berg MFG. Co. LTD).
Mr Berg was born in Sweden in the town of Eskilstuna well-known for the manufacture of knives and hand tools. As a young boy he was practising at the Heljestrand and Johan Engström knife-factories. Only 23 years old Mr Berg started his own to forge and manu-facture razors. He rented a place in one of the Rademacher forges which today is a museum where you can see how it started. The story says that he borrowed 500 SEK to start the activity but after that he only used his own capital. However the most important for his success was his professional skill and his spirit. To underline how small and modest circumstances were in the beginning it can be mentioned that the wife of Mr Berg took part in the manufacture by stoning she edges of the razors right in her kitchen.
However the activity grew very fast and soon he had to move to larger premiers on the opposite side of the street. The success for the products was based on his use of a very high quality plain carbon steel in combination with the hardening operation. He also knew that the forging was of great importance for the quality of the finished product. Therefore Mr Berg very soon established good contacts with the leading experts of steel, forging and heat-treatment. For example can men-tioned that melted lead was used for heating the tools for hardening which gives a very uniform temperature and which also was carefully controlled. Mr Berg was also a pioneer about quality control including testing of the raw material, testing of the hardness of the products after hardening and testing of the finished products. The result of this was a very high and uniform quality of the finished products which was the main reason for fast growing sales, of the products in Sweden and in many other countries.
In 1889 he bought a site for a new factory building and later on he had to enlarge the site and the factory in several steps. International knowledge of the products was also spread by the world-exhibitions e. g. in Chicago and Paris and also in Stockholm 1897.
The manufacturing program was enlarged in several steps. In 1896 was the manufacture of carpenters tools started and in 1898 were pliers added to the program. Other new added products were garden tools 1914, shears for sheet-metal 1924, bolt cutters 1924 and finally butcher- and kitchen-knives in 1933.
In 1901 the company was transformed to a public company, E. A. Berg Manufacturing Company Limited totally owned by the family. In 1903 Mr Berg died only 47 years old.
His five daughters now became the owner of the company. The most important person for develop-ment of the company for the future was Mr C. Gustaf Andersson who 1928 took over as managing director and staid in that position until his pension 1959. Mr Andersson was primarily a very skilled technician but also very clever regarding marketing. Under his leadership the design and performance of the products were improved and the manufacturing technique modernized. The culmination of his long time in the company was building of new modern factory of 10000 sqm in a new manufacturing area of the town of Eskilstuna. This factory was very well planned just for hand tools and was mentioned as the most modern tool-factory of the world.
Regarding wood-chisels can be mentioned the wooden handles were manufactured in own factory using a hard type of wood called masur-birch or curled birch. In 1950 the plastic handles were introduced and from 1969 the chisels were delivered only with plastic handles.
At the time for the pension of Mr Andersson the five Berg sisters were quite old and as nobody in the families were prepared to take a leading place in the company it was decided to sell the company. Buyer was AB Bahco, the largest hand tool-company of Sweden. Bahco was a large manufacturer of adjustable wrenches, spanners, sockets and pipe-wrenches but was missing mainly pliers in there product range. Therefore it was a good co-ordination between the two companies which started in 1959. The year after Bahco also another large tool-company in Eskilstuna, Eskilstuna Jernmanufaktur AB med “Anchor” as a trade mark and mainly knives, scissors and wood-chisels in the manufacture. Bahco brought the two companies together in Eskilstuna and in the beginning it worked out quite well with 700 employees at the most. However later on in a period of declining business Bahco decided de reduce the number of factories and to move the total manufacture in Eskilstuna to their main factory in Enköping. It means that from 1970 pliers and wood-chisels have been manufactured in Enköping. Regarding trade marks AB Bahco decided from the beginning to only use the Bahco trade mark but in combination with “The Shark” and “The Anchor”. It means that the trade mark “Berg” has not been used after 1960.
Later on AB Bahco took over some other hand tool companies as follows. In 1974 the F. E. Lindstrom company in Eskilstuna mainly manufacturing smaller pliers for the electronic industry. In 1980 Record Ridgeway in Great Britain, a large manufacturer of the Carpenters tools but after a few years this company was taken over of some British people. And in 1988 Belzer-Dowidat in Germany was taken over. This company was mainly manufacturer of pliers, screwdrivers, spanners and sockets.
But 1992 it was time for Bahco to go the opposite direction. The total AB Bahco Tool Group was taken over by AB Sandvik which mainly is a steel-mill but also manufacturer of carbide cutting tools and hand tools such as saws and carpenters tools.
But the Sandvik ownership last for only a short period. In 1999 AB Sandvik sold their total hand tool business to the American hand tool company Snap-On-Tools. But the manufacture of the Bahco hand tools was still left in Enköping and also the Bahco trade mark was kept and also to be used also for the former Sanvik products.
However the next step was not so good for Bahco and Enköping. This year, 2006, Snap-On-Tools decided to concentrate their production in Europe mainly to there factories in Spain. It means that the total production of hand tools in the former Bahco main factory will be ended during 2007. But the manufacture of wood-chisels will be kept in Sweden as it already has been moved to another Bahco factory in Sweden which also is managed by Snap-On-Tools.
This is at least for the moment the end of the story which was started by Mr E. A. Berg in 1880.
(Employee at the Berg and Bahco companies 1949-1993)
“Beskrivning över Eskilstuna med omnejd” published in Stockholm 1938
”Eskilstuna – ett kvalitetsbegrepp” published in Stockholm 1949