Hjalmar, Klässbols founder
Hjalmar med Vitalis i knäet och Augusta med dottern Viola.
With strong influence of the Glafsfjorden, Billingen and Sörtjärnet and its water system, handicraft traditions were approached for generations. The water systems were strong enough to operate twenty mills and sawmills.
Our history began in 1884 when our grandfather Hjalmar Johansson, was born in Klässbol Värmland, Sweden into a large family of eight children. At age nine, Hjalmar began working as an errand boy at the local wool factory. Here he developed a keen interest in weaving that increased over the years. After working as a cloth darner in Arvika and Sågmyra, he moved to Borås to study at the weaving school. He gained experience at the weaveries Borås Jaquardväveri and Västergötlands Yllefabrik in Tidan.
In 1918, he received an offer to return to Klässbol, Stafnäs Ullspinneri, wool factory needed help due to change of generation. Our grandfather, his wife Augusta and their eight children moved back to their native region and Hjalmar was employed as weaving supervisor at the wool factory. He soon realized that the factory could not be saved, but had meanwhile started weaving linen sheets and towels on a hand-operated loom at home in his kitchen. The linen was supplied by local farmers, and grandfather wove the products for family and friends. His customers gradually increased, and in 1921 he bought his first mechanical loom. It dominated the living room, and a hole had to be bored in the floor of the bedroom above to make room for the much treasured Jaquard on top of the loom. The loom operated non-stop night and day. In 1924, grandfather bought a small cottage 400 meters from the house and moved his production there. He also invested in two more looms. Grandfather Hjalmar started seven patterns before he suddenly passed away in 1928, only 44 years old. Little did he imagine that his craft would develop into an international company.
After grandfather´s death, his family faced a tough decision – should they continue running the weaver? There were many debts but no money. The answer came when the family found a life insurance policy that grandfather had taken out without his wife´s knowledge. It was worth SEK 4,000 – a fortune in those days. It was as if grandfather had known what would happen. Now the family could continue the business he had started. Our father, Vitalis, took charge of the weaving. Aunt Viola managed the accounts, grandmother dealt with sales and the other children helped as they grew older. Despite hard times and many setbacks, they continued running the weavery and carrying on the family tradition.
In 1975, the weavery was passed on to the family´s sons Sven-Olof, Torbjörn and myself, who had all been weavers since the age of 14. Today, our brother Urban also is a owner and so are our nephew Stefan and niece Cenita who took over after theirs fathers, Sven-Olof and Torbjörn. Meanwhile, Andreas – another fourth generation family member – has become the company´s Managing Director (CEO).
Quality is our most important value, just as it was for our grandfather. Our weave patterns are a cultural treasure that we have inherited and have utmost respect for. The pleasure of sharing these timeless patterns and other top-quality designs is our driving force, which we hope will continue taking Klässbols along the path that grandfather started long ago.
Dick Johansson – one of four owners