Many axe enthusiasts are wondering what has happened to Swedish axe makers Wetterlings. Surely such an important part of Swedens long association with axe production could not be allowed to disappear?
It was great news about 10 years ago when Gabriel Branby bought the Wetterlings axe forge in Storvik Sweden, probably more of an altruistic move rather than one that was driven by purely business need. If it had not been for Gabriel we would not have the massively respected worldwide brand that is Gransfors Bruk AB, which he bought in 1985. He is that unique combination of businessman with an absolutley genuine passion for Swedish axe culture, seeing it as something to be saved and treasured.
However, despite the financial and emotional commitment of Gabrielle and the enthusiastic and inspired efforts of CEO Julia Kallthop, Wetterlings faced decreasing sales and insufficient profitability, so a decision was made in 2016 to cease the manufacture of axes under the Wetterlings brand. Instead Wetterlings forge will become an additional production site for Gränsfors Bruk. So, sad to see the Wetterlings brand go but at least the all important machinery, skilled workforce and axe production in Storvik will continue.
The new owners of the Wetterlings Forge are Gabriel's sons Daniel and Adam. So the future at Storvik is looking good, and will help relieve some of the production pressure from the Gransfors Forge, a real problem for many years.
The Wetterlings Forge shared many similarities with GB in the way they forged, ground and fitted axes with handles, so an amalgamation was easily achieved. The choice of materials were also equivalent. The process of transferring Gränsfors Bruk’s way of working to Wetterlings is ongoing but there is a real desire to preserve and develop Wetterlings Axe Forge and preserve the employees’ experience and know-how for the future.
GB see the amalgamation as a real opportunity to strengthen the GB brand and Swedish axe production to a worldwide customer base. There will be greater potential and resources to develop the business even further. They also recognise they are in the privileged position of being able to help preserve an important part of Sweden’s craft and cultural history embodied in the Wetterlings Forge.
Gränsfors Bruk and the Wetterlings Axe Forge will continue to develop each other, only now as part of the same team and not as competitors.