Made in Sweden by ESBE
The privately owned company ESBE is run by the fourth generation of Skogsfors. Despite being a major market leader in Europe, ESBE has chosen to remain in the original place where it all began, in the small mill community of Reftele, in southern Sweden. It’s not a coincidence. On the contrary. It is a conscious and an active choice. As Lars Dahlström, Sales and Marketing Manager at ESBE explains:
"At ESBE, we have always highly valued quality. The founder Johan August Skogsfors coined the saying: “No new idea should be released to the market until it has first been tested in its own home soil.” This philosophy continues to inspire and permeate our manufacturing."
A natural development that turned into pure company strategy:
Johan August Skogsfors was an enterprising man who ensured that the people of Reftele received electricity to the village. Around Skogsfors Bruk (later to become ESBE) a self-sufficient industry grew consisting of all the parts that the mill could possibly be needed for its production. As the production became refined to its current business operations, valves and actuators for hydronic systems, the number of employees increased.
"Reftele is a small close-knit community with just over 1,300 inhabitants. Most of our employees were born and bred in Reftele or in nearby villages. When the owners and management of a company are familiar with the employees, even sometimes several levels back, a special bond and a special belonging is established. Therefore by tradition ESBE has always taken well care of its employees. This became especially clear under Mats Skogsfors’ leadership when in 1983 he established the opportunity for employees to purchase shares in the company. Presently, ESBE is 20 percent owned by its employees and the remaining shares are owned by the Skogsfors family."
Swedish quality is a core factor to success
In 2000, Johan Skogsfors took over as the new President/CEO. The winds of change now blew not only internally at ESBE, but also out in the world. Many companies have chosen to move their production abroad to low-wage countries. This is something that Johan never considered for one second. Instead, a knowledge boost was introduced for all employees. Distribution of responsibilities and communication was put on the schedule. At the same time, the product line was streamlined and the brand was strengthened. Coordinated sales campaigns rolled out throughout Europe and the successes created opportunities. And Lars concludes:
“Never Stand Still” is a guiding slogan in our work. This means not only that we are proactive in research and product development, but also that we are constantly working to improve quality, production capacity, delivery precision and ESBE’s overall range of products. With sales companies in four countries and additionally partners in more than 30 countries, it has been important that we are well anchored in the ground where we have our roots. We believe in Swedish quality. The figures show that the rest of Europe also does so. Our origins are an integral part of our success and it is not without pride that we can boast 114 years of Made in Sweden by ESBE.