Storebro - the yard

Ivar Gustafsson: image 1 of 1 thumb
Company founder
Ivar Gustafsson
In 1933 Ivar Gustafsson, his brother Sigurd and their friend Georg Larsson from Storebro founded the company Örnmaskiner AB. Ivar started his career in 1923 as a runner and drawing assistant at the manufacturer of lathes Storebro Bruks. Looking at the quiet simple schooling that was a good position. However, the economic situation was so bad in 1932, that his employer was not able to pay an salary.
Ivar Gustafsson: image 1 of 1 thumb
Logo of the firm
Örnmaskiner
Ivar invested the accumulated wage and used a portion of the amount to buy the production rights for a lathe. This was the startup of a sucessful company, which soon became known in the village as day-and-night-company, because the young owners worked tirelessly.

In 1946 the current product portfolio has been expanded to leisure boats, when Ivar was looking at Estonian refugees at Fredensborgs Herrgård working on a fishing boat in 1945. These men worked in their home country both as a fisherman and boat builder. Ivar Gustafsson was impressed and made rooms available to build more boats. The production of small fishing boats represents the origin of the shipyard operation.

In the postwar period, the demand for machine tools was higher than the production. But Ivar Gustafsson also had to sell his boats. As a solution, he sold his lathe with a Storebro boat in a package.

So a lot of companies in Sweden owned a boat from Storebro. The boats impressed by the craftsmanship. However, they do not really suit to all Swedish waters. The boats were somewhat cumbersome to handle and required a helmsman at the stern. Ivar Gustafsson quickly realized that they needed a self-propelled boat for Swedish lakes and islets.

It started with the "archipelago boats" which were designed by the company Electrolux to support the distribution of its civilian Archimedes outboard. As one of the boat manufacturers Storebro produced the so called "Electrolux boat" in three different versions since 1947.

The market grew rapidly and Ivar Gustafsson wanted to present the yards own design on the market. For this purpose he contacted the boat designer Einar Runius and the Penta representative in Stockholm Gösta Berg. In 1949 Tage Truedsson started his work as production manager for Örnmaskiners boatbuilding business.

In 1951 the young yard presented the "Vindö" and the "Solö Ruff". These boats were a real success. Together both series came to nearly 4,000 produced boats to the early 60s. In parallel, the "Örnen" boats were produced. The "Örnen" (Eagle) was built as a fishing boat in about 325 units. Overall, the shipyard now focused exclusively on boats with inboard engine.

In 1956 the shipyard presented the "Svanö" and the sister ship "Bergö". But the market demanded larger boats.

In 1959, the shipyard presented the first Storö I. The ship was developed by Otto Scheen jr. and was the starting point for a variety of boats named Storö.

On January 1st 1963 a purchase contract was signed by AB Örnmaskiner, which took over the total stock of shares of Storebro Bruks AB, after they had made the highest bid. With the takeover of Storebro Bruks AB, AB Örnmaskiner also became the sole owner of AB Storebro Gjuteri (foundry). The new company developed quite positively especially on the export market and it was soon decided to take on the old name of "Storebro Bruks AB". On 05.05.1964 the AB Örnmaskiner took over the name Storebro Bruks Aktiebolag.

Storebro: image 1 of 1 thumb
Yard in Storebro
Several family members were now working in the larger company. These included the remaining founders, their sons, daughter and nephew. Roy Ivarsson and Dick Gustafsson took care of the sale of machinery and boats, cousin Elsebeth Gustafsson organized the purchase of materials and Lennart Ivarsson worked for the boat division when he joined the company in 1965. At his joining the development of a larger boat of about 10 m length was planned.

Storebro: image 1 of 1 thumb
So far, the offices of the company were in the context of the mechanical engineering department. Then an office for Lennart Ivarsson has been created in the direct area of the shipyard. The picture shows the first office. For that the original office of the company Örnmaskiner of Ivar Gustfsson was used. It consisted of two rooms, which were used as a sales office and design office, as well as the underlying workshop. Until 1962, the workshop was used to equip the boats with engines, and later for the production of fiberglass parts. In 1967 the first GRP-hull form for the Royal Cruiser I (Solö Lyx II) was built here. In the design office Einar Runius drew the hull lines of the Royal Cruiser IV (34). Right of the building the test tank is shown in which all finished boats including the Royal Cruiser 34 were checked for the engines function and the boats tightness. Later larger boats were tested in Västervik.

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Storebro: image 1 of 1 thumb
In 1965, both the "Storö III" and the "Storö IV" were presented. The latter with 800 built boats was one of the most popular boats of the shipyard. Originally 1,230 ships were specified, this value could not be confirmed by the shipyard documents. The hulls of these boats were still built completely in mahogany on demand, although GRP-hulls for the Storö IV were on offer since 1968. The wood used for the production of the boats was bought by the shipyard in complete logs and stored in the water in direct shipyard environment to prevent cracking of the logs. The picture shows the logs near the water mill (today Bruksmuseum).

Storebro: image 1 of 1 thumb
Herrgården in Storebro
In 1968 the company acquired manor house "Herrgården" as a common office building for all divisions of the company.

The construction of the Storö V (47) demonstrated the existence of the spatial limits of the buildings in Storebro and let appear a waterside location makes sense.

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Yard in
Västervik 1976/77
Yard in Västervik
So in 1968 the location in Västervik with its 280m long quay was aquired. Ivar Gustafsson charged his son Lennart with the construction and renovation of the site with new production- and GRP-Hall. First ship was the first half finished Storö V which was transported overnight on icy roads and because of its proportions with police escort and various accompanying trucks to Västervik and completed there. This Storö V was then launched on 1969-12-18.

Storebro: image 1 of 1 thumb
Turnover 1945-1969
In Västervik later all fiberglass parts, both hulls and small parts were manufactured. Later the GRP production facility was upgraded in Västervik as for Sweden's most modern facility with air-exchange capacity of up to 77,000 m³/hour.

Storebro: image 1 of 1 thumb
Production in
Storebro
With two existing sites production also could be split. So Storö V, Storö 43, Storö 38, 40 and the SRC 470/500 were built in Västervik. Some models like the sailing yachts Carter 40 (Havsörnen 40), Carter 42, Storebro 33 and the Storebro 90E for the Navy were built at both locations. The other models were produced in Storebro.

While the construction was established in Storebro the development of new prototypes was carried out in Västervik, since there was also the making of the molds.

Furnitures for the larger series were prepared in Storebro. Smaller units could also be produced in Västervik. All upholstery work was carried out in Storebro.

With the introduction of "Storö 43" (the last full wooden boat), resp. the prototype "Storö 42", the nomenclature of Roman numerals was converted in 1972 to the length in feet because the previous nomenclature let no space between the "Storö IV (34)" and the big "Storö V (47)".

Storebro: image 1 of 1 thumb
Yard in
Västervik 1991/92
In April 1988 the boat building activities were spinned off from the overall group Storebro Bruks AB to the daughter company Storebro Royal Cruiser AB. Manager of this company became Lennart Ivarsson.

Until 1995, the shipyard was owned by the brothers Roy and Lennart Ivarsson and their cousin Elsebeth. She then sold her shares in 1995 to the long-standing customer Hans Mellström, founder of WM-data (see Wikipedia ( sw.)).

In February 1995, the upholstery was spinned off and aquired by the previous manager Martin Risén and his wife. It was continued as an independent company "Storebro Tapetseri & Inredning AB". This company produced until its bankruptcy in mid-2012 all upholstery and tarpaulins for the current Storebro boats.

In 1997 Roy and Lennart also sold their shares to Hans Mellström, after Roy wanted to spend more time with his family.

1999 Hans Mellström bought (now the sole owner of Storebro Bruks) the brands and Nimbus and Ryds from Harald Wiklund and his sons, Lars and Hans and founded "Via Mare Boats".

The new shipyard group now had several sites for each part of the production. Under these circumstances the site Västervik was sold to the Norwegian company Windy Boats AS in 2002 that was looking for a location in the EC and the Baltic Sea.

2004 Hans Mellström then sold 51% of Via Mare Boats to a consortium including Lars and Hans Wiklund. As part of the model development, it was decided that Nimbus boats builds the boats up to 40 feet and the Storebro should produce boats above 40 feet.

After 2003, when the production of most Storebro boats was set, the 410 Commander was the only Storebro model. The boat shares the hull with the Nimbus Nova 42. After the extension of the hull (the cockpit was the only benefit) the boat was produced as 435 Commander until 2014. In addition the Paragon 31 and 25 were built in Storebro. 2011 the 435 SunTop was presented, instead of a flybridge she was equipped with a large sun deck and because of the lower height she is has channel abilities.

In 2006 the venture capital firm Altor Equity Partners invested in Nimbus Boats and thus also in Storebro, Ryds and Paragon as a major shareholder with a capital increase of 150%. Mid-2012, Nimbus Boats declared bankruptcy allthough they had a positive order situation.

In September 2012 Nimbus was taken over by the Swedish Investment Holding R12. Storebro (which means rights and properties) was then sold to the present owner Roger von Haugwitz. The new company name ist now "Storebro Boats AB".

Von Haugwitz also aquired the "Storebro Tapetseri & Inredning", which also declared bankruptcy due to the bankruptcy of Storebro. The new company was named "Nya Storebro Tapetseri & Inredning AB".

In November 2013 the first pictures of a 460 Commander were presented at a customer meeting in Storebro. At the moment it looks as if these plans will not be realized.

On 2014-01-14 Storebro Boats AB announced the aquisition of the Swedish Nordwest-yard. In the autumn of 2014 nearly all employees were dismissed. In 2015 the new company showed a profit for the first time. Meanwhile the company domicile of both companies was moved to Älvsjö, Stockholm.

I wish every success to Roger von Haugwitz and his team.

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Further information about Storebro Bruk history can be found in the two books "Storebro Bruk - 1728-1998" (ISBN 91-631-0278-1) und "Storebro - Founded in 1728". The books are available at the following address: Stiftelsen Brukskultur, Box 20, 59870 Storebro, Sweden.
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