After an accident in the forest, Tommy Karlsson had the time to create something that would reduce the risk of future accidents: a hydraulic processor for tractors. Now known as Hypro, the product is available in 32 countries.
Karlsson developed the tractor processor for his own needs and it was finished by 1984. The company that supplied the hydraulics felt the result was so professional that it should be exhibited at a forestry fair. An expert was brought in to assess the functioning and market potential.
“He said the market was basically saturated and told me that I could sell maybe a dozen of my processors locally,” Tommy remembers.
In 1987 he and his wife, Elisabeth, exhibited the only example of the processor at Elmia Wood. By then the product and company had gained a name: Hypro. Many people were interested and the forest owners at the fair saw what the expert had missed. Competing processors were mechanical but this one was hydraulic and therefore lighter and easier to manoeuvre.
“We sold the first processor at the fair but in the weeks after we got home, 15 prospective customers visited us for a demonstration and 14 made a purchase,” Elisabeth says.
However, only one processor existed – the prototype. With the help of suppliers, the customers got their machines but the orders kept pouring in.
“Elmia Wood’s fair manager at the time moved back home to Germany and asked us if he could sell our processors,” Tommy adds. “Within a couple of years we had supplied 75 machines. That success then rippled out to markets in the UK and other countries.”
Opened the door to Latin America
The next export boost came in the mid-1990s, also at Elmia Wood. Into Hypro’s stand stepped a Portuguese man, who suggested that the Swedish company should send a processor to Portugal for demonstrations in a eucalyptus plantation. Tommy went along as the operator.
“The debranching wasn’t going so well so I backed up the trunk. Then the bark came off. The spectators all began talking at once. When I asked my host what was happening, I was told that no one had succeeded before in mechanically debarking eucalyptus so effectively.”
That success in Portugal opened the door to Latin America. Chile is a growing market and Tommy has been there a number of times. On one occasion he visited a village far out in the countryside.
“They only knew three things about Sweden. Our country is on the other side of the world, Elmia Wood and Hypro,” Tommy says.
The export route has continued to go via Elmia Wood. Forestry professionals come here from around the world, and using the fair as a starting point, Hypro is supplying more and more countries. They now number 32 and stretch from Thailand to Canada. Many diverse types of wood are handled with the Hypro processor. In addition to the various Nordic coniferous species, the most common are eucalyptus, acacia, Monterey pine and Douglas fir.
Lönsboda is still the center
Hypro still has its head office in Lönsboda, Skåne and its Swedish customers remain important. The product range has expanded to include five processes in varying sizes, with or without a crane, energy-wood felling grapple, felling grapple and forwarder trailer. The company has a number of suppliers but all the products go through Lönsboda for inspection and testing. Because everything must work properly and last a long time.
“We sell machines, not spare parts,” explains the next generation of the Karlsson family, son Linus, who has joined the company together with his brother Daniel.
Hypro has exhibited at all editions of Elmia Wood since 1987 and will be there again on 7–10 June 2017. Or, to be more accurate, will most particularly be there then. Because in 2017 Hypro is celebrating its 30th anniversary.