For Bracke Forest, forests have been both workplace and development lab since 1922 when Hjalmar Ljungberg quit his job as a mine blacksmith in Malmberget. He was well paid there, but food and other essentials were in short supply in Malmberget at the time. He started looking for somewhere else to set up his own business, which he called JH Ljungbergs Smidesverkstad (JH Ljungberg’s smithy). Eventually he settled on Gravmark near Umeå.
Besides carrying out repairs, the new business made tools and implements for forestry and agriculture, mainly harrows and forestry equipment. Most of his products came to be sold in Jämtland. Adolf Eriksson ran the local hardware store in Bräcke, and he was among those who sold Hjalmar Ljungberg’s products in the district. In 1938, he persuaded Hjalmar to move to Bräcke and bring his smithy with him.
In 1950, Hjalmar became ill, and his son Sylvester with his wife Sara took over the business. In 1952, it was moved into newly built premises across the road from Hjalmar’s first smithy in Bräcke.
Bräcke Bil och Smidesverkstad (Bräcke garage and smithy), as the company came to be called, continued to produce tools and implements for forestry and agriculture, but also operated a car servicing and repair shop. It was one of the very first contract repair shops for Volkswagen in Sweden. By this time, chain saws were being used in forestry, so naturally the business also sold, serviced and repaired chain saws. The family business also opened a radio and TV shop.
In the early 1960s, the company was servicing and repairing the scarifiers that had started to be used in the forestry industry. It soon became apparent that these machines had major drawbacks, and because of this, the idea emerged of designing a new improved type of scarifier in cooperation with SCA. The first machine was tested under real conditions in 1965. The following year, series production began, and in 1970 the first scarifier was exported to Canada.
In 1970 too, a decision was taken to specialise in ground preparation machines. In connection with this decision, the company changed its name to Robur Maskin AB. A service station on a neighbouring block was purchased and the car repair shop was moved there so that all the space in the premises could be used for the production of scarifiers. But business went so well that it had soon outgrown its premises again, and the construction of a new building between the old facility and the service station began. It was finished in May 1975.
The Bräcke Cultivator, as the machine was called, was more robustly built and was articulated to cope with the rough terrain in forests. The company also collaborated with Sweden’s Forestry University at the time and other researchers to develop and design a machine that resulted in the best possible planting spots for pine or spruce seedlings. Later, partnerships with researchers in this field were established all over the world.
In 1983, Robur Maskin AB was sold to Contrafact AB i Östersund (Olle Hemmingsson). This allowed further expansion, including the acquisition of others in the industry.
1994 saw the acquisition of Skogsbruksmaskiner AB i Säter. Production moved to Bräcke.
In 1999, the company purchased TTS Forest in Finland. Its activities were also moved to Bräcke.
A major technology shift occurred in the 1990s. New forestry machines arrived on the market that made it possible to mount cultivators directly onto forestry machines instead of, as previously, dragging them behind like a trailer. There was also now new technology allowing digital control of the machine’s functions. The industry started using GIS and GPS technologies.
In 2004, it was time for another name change. The products had always been called Bräcke, and internationally we were called "Bracke". So, with increased exports it felt natural to call the company Bracke Forest.
In 2006, the production of bioenergy harvesters started. A product that suits well with Bracke Forest as it’s part of forestry.
At the turn of the year 2011–2012, Bracke Forest AB was purchased by Ekonord and Mittkapital.
In December 2013, 100% of Bracke Forest was purchased by the Cranab Group in Vindeln. At the same time, the Italian crane manufacturer Fassi became a minority shareholder in the Cranab Group, consisting of Cranab, Vimek and Bracke Forest.
In November 2017, Fassi bought out the last of the other shareholders in the Cranab Group, which thus became a wholly owned subsidiary of Fassi.
Today, Bracke Forest AB in Bräcke is managed by Hjalmar Ljungberg’s grandson, Klas-Håkan, who is CEO of the company. Bracke Forest has been part of technology shifts in forestry for over 90 years. From horses to tractors, from one-man cross cut saws to chain saws, and machinery that harvests whole trees. But...
the SEEDLING hasn’t changed its preferences for the perfect spot to grow. It still wants warmth around its roots, enough moisture, and nutritious food. An inverted humus mound that functions as a miniature compost heap provides warmth, nutrients, moisture and protection from insects. Following the introduction of Bracke’s planters into regeneration in the southern hemisphere, these principles had to be updated, since growing conditions and even the types of trees are different there - often the opposite to our home market. In the northern hemisphere, we often plant trees in a hollow so that the growing plant gets shade and moisture.
We continue to design machines that are helping to produce an environment conducive to forest growth and regeneration. Something that is beneficial to us all.
Bracke Forest products are available in all parts of the world, with the exception of Antarctica. (We should hope that we never have to deliver any of our current products there!)