Time flies when having fun and what a fun time it has been. This autumn it is 20 years since the first FARMA left the factory and started its journey to become the number 1 lumber trailer brand in Europe. We thought it would be nice to read the story of the man behind the brand and how the first FARMA was created right there on the factory floor.
History about how it all started
Leif Fors, founder of Fors Mekaniska Werkstad (Fors MW) is a true entrepreneur. As so often with entrepreneurs it is not the goal in itself which is the attraction, but rather the journey there. The company has been run within a variety of industries. Basically a builder with vast experience of the building industry, but a dog handler on large estates in the hunting season and a quarrying plant in Portugal have also belonged to the activities, to name but a few.
At the end of the 1980s, Leif could never have imagined that a machine business would be the start of a journey leading to the creation of one of Europe's largest production plants for forestry and agricultural machinery, in Estonia. Leif recounts, "towards the end of the 80s I took a ferry with the destination of Estonia. The main reason for the journey was curiosity, but also a large general interest however the misery I experienced just 400 kilometres from the Swedish coast line affected me deeply.
I couldn't just close my eyes and travel home. I was, as the entrepreneur I am, forced to act. I chose to stay and have never really truly returned since. I saw misery, but also possibilities. The possibility for myself to create a future, but also a possibility to become involved and create a future for others." Fors MW was established in 1992 and is today the oldest Swedish company in Estonia.
Leif continues, "the company started by manufacturing everything from circular saws to candlesticks and business was so-so. My interest in forestry lead to the thought of manufacturing a lumber trailer." All said and done and the first FARMA trailer was drawn up on the factory floor. Initially the quality was nothing to shout about but the price was pioneering. For the first time there was a trailer available for the small forest owner and the sales success was underway. Then FARMA had a single model, today nearly twenty years later there are 8 basic models that can be varied virtually endlessly. Today FARMA is one of Europe's most sold lumber trailers. This is not principally due to a unique feature, but the fact that we have been adept in keeping down the price to the end user and over the years we have offered high quality to a low price.
Leif says, "I have always liked the forest and with the forest comes an interest in the earth. It was therefore exciting for some fifteen years ago to start the creation of one's own forest and farm in Estonia. Today the farm consists of 3350 acres in one parcel of which 2220 acres are forest. The choice of lumber trailer was clear-cut, and over the years Fors MW products have been intensively tested on the farm. There were many times when I came to the factory on a Monday morning after a hard weekend's work on the farm and indignantly involved everyone in something like an incorrect cylinder placement, but we learned a great deal on the way. We learnt the practical use of our products."
Today Fors MW is a prosperous company with hundreds of employees with subsidiaries in Sweden and China with three market leading brands FARMA, BIGAB and NIAB. Fors MW has experienced everything from the Estonian bank collapse in 1997 which nearly made us bankrupt to that February night in 2006 when the fire alarm connected to the mobile started to ring at five in morning. "I drove at lightning speed to the factory only to see my life's work on fire." The day after the fire it was apparent that the damage to the factory was extensive.
Some years later we can see our momentum slowed in that year. Focus that should have been on product development was directed to reconstruction. This is one of the reasons why I am proud of the new products that are currently on the way and which several are presented in this brochure. However, this is only a small selection of what is to come and as a forest farmer I can promise you something special.
Our history has made us respectful of the future. We know that everything can happen; we know you are never better than your last development or you last customer contact. We are a company that believes in openness in preference to closed doors. Follow our continued journey through our blog www.forsmw.blogspot.com.