6 December 2022

Happy 170th Birthday!

We have been at the heart of spring manufacturing for 170 years. A legacy that secures us as the oldest, most respected and most experienced manufacturer of springs.

Established in 1675, with spring manufacture commencing in 1852, our heavy duty spring specialism was born in the very first factory - in Lesjöfors - over 17 decades ago.

We’ve searched through the archives and gone back in time to reflect on where we have come from and to show you where our spring journey began.

At the heart of it lies a common core. People. Our heritage and legacy has been shaped by the passion and vision of those before us and this culture continues to thrive within the Lesjöfors Group today.

The Beginning: 1642-1853

The story of Lesjöfors dates back to 1642 at a lake in the mid-west of Sweden. A smeltery was built to produce iron from ore from a close-by mine and in 1675, an iron mill, by a connecting stream, was built nearby at Lesjöfors (fors = stream) for the manufacture of soft iron bars.

Spring manufacturing

The mill had many different owners until 1813 when the trading house Ekman & Co from Gothenburg bought the mill and started to develop the business. Gustaf Ekman, who was the factory manager, was well travelled in Europe and he had seen and learnt the artisanship of spring manufacturing, a knowledge that he passed on to the blacksmiths in Lesjöfors. The first flat spring was manufactured in 1850 and in 1852, the mill produced its first coil spring - our official ‘birth’ year.

Springs in the first ever train

In 1853, the first Swedish steam locomotive was manufactured and Lesjöfors supplied the springs for the pulling of ore trains
man carrying a huge spring on a lift

100 Years of Expansion: 1854-1959

Infrastructure developments

In 1854, the iron mill in Lesjöfors diversified to become the first wire-coiling mill in Sweden.

In 1866, the Lesjöfors mill became Lesjöfors AB. In 1888, a new railway network was established, crossing through Lesjöfors it made goods transportation easier and in 1905 a power station was built.

The De Geer family started a new era

In 1923, the De Geer family took over the business and a new era began. They extensively expanded the operation by introducing electricity and consequently grew the facilities with new buildings and advancements in technology and skills.

In the 50’s the growth continued with further expansions and Lesjöfors acquired other spring companies in the mid-Sweden region.
In 1958, Lesjöfors took the first step for expansion outside of Sweden when starting Lesteel Springs in South Africa.

In 1959, Lesjöfors moved the manufacture of cord wire, rail brackets and spring clamps to the acquired facility in Årnäs Bruk, in Västergötland.

A Pioneering Era: 1960-1982

The 60’s continued with energy and a pioneering spirit for Lesjöfors.

· 1963 – new efficient steelworks and a new rolling mill in our heavy springs factory, Lesjöfors
· 1965 – the Swedish Wire Co. was founded in the USA.
· 1966 – a number of new acquisitions across Sweden
· 1967 – a new wire drawing plant was built with a capacity of 15,000 tons per year
· 1969 – a further acquisition in Sweden and the start of a hot coiling factory in Denmark

Full speed in the 70’s

The 70’s saw the implementation of a number of new modernising systems and new building developments. In 1978, a new factory was established - specialising in rail springs.

Brakes on in the 80’s

The 80’s started ambitiously with investments in manufacture, advancements in new technology and a new production process.

In 1982, Lesjöfors opened up a factory in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Later that year, the group got into financial difficulty as it relied too much on a key customer which impacted greatly on the business when they changed their buying patterns.

A New Start: 1982-1995

In 1982, delegates from Lesjöfors’ trade unions went to see the prime minister of Sweden, Olof Palme, with the aim of saving Lesjöfors from bankruptcy.

This resulted in the company being owned by employee investment funds and all employees bought shares in the company.
people sitting down at tables creating springs

A constant growth journey

In 1987, Alma Industri & Handel bought Lesjöfors Industrifjädrar. Their name is now Beijer Alma and they are a family-controlled listed company on the Swedish Stock Exchange and our parent company.

In 1987, they also acquired Stockholm Fjäder from Göran Andersen, a man who was to play a key role in the coming transformation of Lesjöfors. The company decided to broaden focus also to suspension springs and compression springs and acquired the company Rally Elit in Växjö, which then got a new name: Lesjöfors Automotive. Stefan Engdahl led the development of this important segment.

In 1993, Anders Wall was elected chairman of the board in Beijer Alma. Two years later, the British company Euro Suspension Ltd was incorporated in the group and re-named to Lesjöfors Springs Co.

In 1987, Alma Industri & Handel bought Lesjöfors Industrifjädrar. Their name is now Beijer Alma and they are a family-controlled listed company on the Swedish Stock Exchange and our parent company.

In 1987, they also acquired Stockholm Fjäder from Göran Andersen, a man who was to play a key role in the coming transformation of Lesjöfors. The company decided to broaden focus also to suspension springs and compression springs and acquired the company Rally Elit in Växjö, which then got a new name: Lesjöfors Automotive. Stefan Engdahl led the development of this important segment.

In 1993, Anders Wall was elected chairman of the board in Beijer Alma. Two years later, the British company Euro Suspension Ltd was incorporated in the group and re-named to Lesjöfors Springs Co.

The Great Fire & International Expansion: 1996-2019

On April 9 1996, our entire heavy springs factory in Lesjöfors burnt down.

144 years of manufacturing history up in smoke, 6000sqm of spring manufacturing lost, at a cost of €6m.

The flames of the fire might have destroyed everything but they also sparked a flame in everyone who worked there, to turn catastrophe into something constructive.

Determined to carry on manufacturing, Lesjöfors acquired a new factory in Sweden and Finland. Incredibly, not only did the team follow and move themselves to their new locations, production volume also expanded.

A tragedy turned into growth success

Exactly one year later on April 9 1997, a new state of the art spring manufacturing factory was built on the foundations of where the fire had struck. What initially appeared as a tragedy turned into a reimagined and modernised Lesjöfors with its feet firmly grounded in its heritage and tradition but with the spotlight on its future.

One month after the new factory started its operations, Kjell-Arne Lindbäck took on the position as CEO of the Lesjöfors Group. Sales increased by 30% and international expansion began.

Kjell-Arne was to become a central figure in future growth and direction of the group.

Global Mind. Local Heart. 1996-2019

We had tried exporting springs to the international market for years but soon learnt that the spring market was loyal to its region. The answer lay in finding spring manufacturers with a similar corporate culture and so a global mergers and acquisitions programme was established.

At the centre of our corporate culture is a decentralised structure enabling relationships with employees, customers and suppliers to stay in their local network. When companies join the Lesjöfors Group, the business is run by the existing team and yet they have access to the strengths of the entire groups global market presence.

Unparalleled growth in the automotive market

During Kjell-Arne Lindbäcks’ years, the automotive spring aftermarket had an unparalleled growth, from 10 MSEK to a remarkable 600 MSEK. The industrial sector also grew across Telecomms, IT and medical sectors especially.

New Sustainable Digital Era: 2020s

In January 2020, Ola Tengroth was appointed the new CEO after Kjell-Arne Lindbäck’s retirement.

His focus is clear, to continue the stable growth of the group, always on a foundation of sustainability and digitalisation.

We now have a turnover of €400m and 60+ production and technical sales offices across Europe, America and Asia and are always looking to acquire more to extend our capabilities and geographic reach.

This is our story so far but new chapters are being written all the time and we can’t wait to reflect back in another decade to see where we and our people have grown next.

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We are world-leading heavy duty spring manufacturers, delivering the greatest expertise in compression, torsion and tension spring manufacturing.

Delivering impact to every industry, we guarantee spring solutions that will optimise your performance and success.

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