Without a doubt, Hults Bruk is rapidly becoming the giant of the axe world.
Starting in 1697 they first began by producing nails and iron bars. Followed by hand tools and axes. By the 1870s, when the majority of other forges were closing their doors, Hults Bruk was still expanding and modernizing.
By the 20th Century only a handful of Swedish forges were left in operation. Sater and Urafors were the last two to close their doors in the 1960s. With Hults Bruk buying and consolidating the Arvika and Thor Brands around the same time.
Fast forward to 1985 and Gransfors already had two bankruptcies under their belt and were struggling to compete. They eventually came up with the idea of roughly forge finished axes and successfully managed to reinvent themselves. Starting a massive industry wide trend that would eventually back them into a corner.
Similarly, Wetterlings faced declining sales and insufficient profitability for over a decade. Eventually, in 2007 Wetterlings was sold to Gabriel Brånby who had, from 1985 to 2009, owned and managed Gränsfors Bruks Forge. Then in 2016 Gransfors Bruks bought the Wetterlings forge becoming the parent company.
Only a year later the Wetterlings brand would be discontinued and the forge would be consigned to produce axes under the Gransfors Bruks brand.
The Giant Awakens
Meanwhile, with the start of the early 1990s, Hults Bruk was bought by the company Hultafors. Along with Tors Hammare, Dansk Stålindustri, German folding rule manufacturer Präsident, Fisco Tools in England and Wibe Ladders and Snickers Workwear they formed the juggernaut now known as the Hultafors Group.
They have become a widely diversified manufacturing company that continues to aggressively expand internationally. Right under most customers noses.
The Road Forward
Hults Bruk continues to easily produce over 200,000 axes per year. Comfortably being able to take over the contract for Husqvarna axes and produce for Hultafors.
They are now in a position to compete with other major manufacturers like Council Tool and Mueller. While still providing flawless Swedish quality consumers have come to expect and backed by one of the best warranties in the industry.
Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, their growing size and a huge increase in marketing have served to put pressure on the remaining Swedish forge. With the Wetterlings brand now gone and Gransfors Bruks left treading water.
Gransfors continues to struggle in their small niche market, unable to keep up with demand and struggling to find blacksmiths despite the consolidation of both forges. With the reputation they’ve built they now face a catch 22. Either facing criticism if they could expand or criticism with their constant struggle to produce enough axes.
Inevitably, Hults Bruk will grow to dominate the entire Swedish axe market. Leaving the only other remaining forge forced to reinvent themselves yet again, face bankruptcy or possibly be bought out by the Hultafors Group and become a label under their banner.