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Erik Anton Berg, Eskilstuna, Sweden.

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
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
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
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.

Enköping 2006-10-21
Folke Möller
(Employee at the Berg and Bahco companies 1949-1993).
Other sources:
“Beskrivning över Eskilstuna med omnejd” published in Stockholm 1938,
”Eskilstuna – ett kvalitetsbegrepp” published in Stockholm 1949.
"Eskilstuna - the Sheffield of Sweden."

Catalog 1896.

The razor 13/16. Etched on the removable spine: "PRISBELONT i MALMO 1881,
ÖREBRO och BOSTON 1883".

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