Swix in Norway
In 1946, Astra purchased a production plant in Lørenskog.
The company’s manager in Norway, the Swede Karl Arne Wegerfelt, inspected the empty premises which did not even have light switches. While on an inspection at the facility he ran into a man who was repairing the boiler room – Mr Bjørn Kristiansen, a seaman who was waiting to ship on board a new vessel. Was he interested in a job? The seaman answered “yes” straight away.
This was a time in Norway with serious shortages of most goods, and rationing of many products was commonplace. Industrial equipment was even more difficult to come by. But Bjørn
Kristiansen was not a man to be discouraged by challenging times. He made the rounds to all the scrap dealers in town and found some boilers and pipe ends. He even straightened rusty nails for reuse, and the production facility began to take shape.
In 1947 with primitive means, Kristiansen was able to put together the equipment needed to build a manufacturing plant able to produce 4000 ski waxes a day with the help of eight-nine employees.
Starting in the winter 1948, Swix wax was manufactured in Norway and sold in Norway.
Swix encountered serious resistance to its business activity in the beginning, however. Many Norwegians believed that the entire project was a brazen Swedish attack on Norway’s national sport. Astra’s boss in Norway from 1947, Christian Fredrik Kaltenborn felt at times like a traitor. It was not easy to introduce a new product invented in Sweden during the post-war years, even though it was made in Norway by Norwegian workers. Matsbo dropped by sales outlets in Norway and asked for a box of Swix. The answer was often, no, they didn’t sell it, because it was Swedish. Nor were customers asking for it.
The Norwegians disliked that Swedes were trying to knock out respected Norwegian brands such as Østbye, Bratlie and Record. To counter the apparent assault, 18 Norwegian wax manufacturers joined together into what was called “The Ski Wax Manufacturer’s National Federation”. But the federation would not have a long lifespan.
Swix’ reputation grew from above and from below. Norwegian elite skiers began using the wax, and the trend spread to recreational skiers. The instructional film “Glide and Grip” taught many the art of ”swixing”.