Our history

1873 – 1900

Fredrik Åström

The Åström Family buys a small tanning business by Tärnsjön Lake. They name it Tärnsjö Ånggarveri (Tärnsjö Steam Tannery); the business employs Fredrik Åström and one other person.

1900 – 1940

Julius Åström

Julius Åström buys the tannery from his father Fredrik in 1900. The ambitious Julius immediately sets to expanding the business, completely renovating the tannery building. In 1913 Tärnsjö Ånggarveri begins making saddlery for the horses of local farmers. In 1917 the combination of a large fire and a flawed insurance policy nearly ends the budding enterprise. However, Julius sees opportunity in adversity and builds a new, bigger factory. In three months the factory is back up to speed, now employing 30 people. Tärnsjö Ånggarveri quickly becomes recognized for excellent craftsmanship and quality. By the 1930s the company has expanded into producing gloves, ski bindings, back packs, knife and gun holsters and footwear.

1940 – 1971

Torsten Åström

In 1940, the business is passed down to the third generation of the Åström family. Torsten Åström finds himself in charge of a thriving business with several dozen employees and in need of larger facilities. Construction on a new building begins in 1942, but due to the Second World War it’s not completed until 1946. Impressive for its time, the three-story building features an elevator to help lessen the physical demands on the workers. This same building is still in use today. For the next 25 years business is good. We build houses for our workers and start producing clothes such as jackets and coats. Tärnsjö Ånggarveri grows to as many as 180 employees. We expand to hockey gear, bags, moose leather suede jackets and many other products. The king of Sweden, Gustav VI Adolf, comes to see for himself the magic that is happening in the Swedish woods. In 1970, the once thriving business nearly falls into bankruptcy. To save the company founded by their grandfather the Åström family decides to sell the factory, ending 98 years of family ownership.

1971- 1989

Nils Nyman

The new owner is Nils Nyman. He immediately begins upgrading the facility and its machinery. Over the next 16 years, Tärnsjö Ånggarveri is remade and emerges as a fully modernized and mature company. In 1988 Tärnsjö Ånggarveri decides to end the practice of chrome excel tanning. Although chrome excel tanning comprises approximately 25-30% of their tanning business, the company makes a bold move to use the sustainable method of vegetable tanning exclusively. We are proud of a decision that has proven to be truly ahead of its time. Modern business happily seems to have caught up with our almost 30-year old value of respecting Mother Nature.

1989 – 1993

Venture capitalists

These are the years we refer to as “the years of no direction.” The venture capitalists try to make quick exits based on our unique market position, but they show little respect for craftsmanship and the time, knowledge and experience required for vegetable tanning. Their efforts prove unsuccessful. Another warehouse fire turns out to be even more devastating with the untimely bankruptcy of the insurance company just before the fire.

1993 – 2012

Torbjörn Lundin

The difficult years are finally brought to a conclusion with new owners, Torbjörn Lundin and Axel Bodéns Handels AB. Bringing with them vast experience in the leather industry, they put forward a clear vision of the company. They change the company name and brand to Tärnsjö Garveri AB. Led by CEO Torbjörn Lundin, these years see a clear shift in focus away from functional products to interior design and furniture for the global market. We are increasingly recognized as one of the world’s leading producers of vegetable tanned leather and our craftsmen as among the most highly skilled in the world. We begin to work with premium luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Hermes. By serving in high profile positions within international industry organizations, Mr. Lundin positions himself and Tärnsjö Garveri as a power player in the leather industry.

2012 – Today

Axel Bodén

Taking over the reins of the company in 2012, owner and Chairman Axel Bodén is now actively building his part of the Tärnsjö Garveri legacy. Axel Bodén is since 2016 the sole owner of both Axel Bodéns Handels AB and Tärnsjö Garveri AB.

Watch more videos under the Story Behind the Tannery.