AS Frydenbø Slip og Mek. Workshop was founded on 17 October 1916 with Karl Gjøvaag as the manager. The business was started in 1917, and the construction started at the workshop in Damgårdsveien in Laksevåg..
1916 – 1936 Optimism and enthusiasm
Recession and depression after World War I led to many bankruptcies, and Frydenbø was one of the companies who suffered great difficulties. The company had to terminate people from their jobs, but managed in 1922 to increase employment in spite of the recession. The same year Frydenbø started production of the lid (tank lid for ships), wire rolls, sweepers for steam engines, windlass and life rafts.
Almost in parallel with the creation of Frydenbø Slip og Mek. Workshop, the brothers Alf and Håkon Søyland initiated in 1925 a company that initially was named Damsgaard Motorfabrikk, but would later become better known as “Sabb”. The production concentrated on smaller engines for fishermen. In 1929 William Knutsen AS was established in Oslo – the company we today know as Frydenbø Industri Oslo.
1936 – 1956 Progress and new challenges
The recession turns and Frydenbø develops the pinion steering gear – an innovation for the coastal fleet in Scandinavia. The company has good business years until World War II breaks out. Again, this will affect the employees. In 1942, Frydenbø had a big fire in the main building, which was made of wood. After the fire, the building had to be condemned, and the new building was built with bricks.
From a modest boathouse in Damsgaardsveien, just a stone’s throw away from Frydenbø Slip og Mek’s workshop, there was produced about 2,700 Sabb-engines the first 14 years. In 1939, the Sabb factory moved into a larger facility, with more modern premises in Damsgaardsveien 113. This was almost next door to Frydenbø, and when the war was over there was prevailing optimism at the Sabb factory. The list of orders was both long and extensive, and long waiting lists affected the production.
The “Frydenbø” generator, a carbide generator for operation of cars and vans, was developed and patented. Ford in Strømmen that had sub-agents in the whole country sold the generator. Large production required development of the facilities, and Frydenbø experienced record turnover in 1947. The company then had 115 employees. In 1951, NMD decided that all vessels over 200 gross tons should have life rafts, and Frydenbø started major production of “Frydenbø rafts”.
In 1952, Frydenbø developed the first hydraulic steering gear with 2 wings, and two years after we started exporting them to Europe. At the same time an agreement was signed to license production in the US.
1956 – 1976 New markets conquered
In 1956 Frydenbø hired their first female employee, and Hans Erik Gjøvaag was appointed as operations manager of the repair department in 1960. Steering machines were manufactured under license in Japan and Spain, and later on several continents. However, Frydenbø experienced declining activity and fierce competition in June 1962, when the decision to close down the repair department as well as the slipway was made. One of the slipways was sold to Kleven Verft – and this was their start within shipbuilding. The company now changed its name to Frydenbø Mekaniske Verksted AS.
At the neighbors at Sabb Motor, times were still god. During the fifties and sixties, the company had to expand several times. In 1975, the facilities had risen to more than 6,000 square meters. The workforce was very stable and the management had a huge focus on having a good working environment for the employees. Sabb offered shorter hours and higher wages than other factories, and were known for having a very good working environment. We can proudly say that the company still has many employees who have been here for a lifetime.
1976 – 1986 Dark clouds appear
After a number of years of steadily increasing production, the world trade entered a recession, and orders went for that reason sharply down. Because of this, and in order to expand our business, Frydenbø started with agencies on land-based products: backhoe loaders, construction machinery and SUVs.
Because of tough times with low reserves of steering gears, the company introduced weeks with only four workdays for a period. The new rules for capital goods, which were introduced in 1979, led to a shutdown of the construction department. In 1981, the company decided to change its name to Frydenbø AS.
The order situation for steering gear sales was in 1982 strongly aggravated, and Frydenbø was forced to downsize and Frydenbø had to let several employees go.
The situation improved in 1984, and new significant markets were in place: Italy, South Korea, Germany and Romania.
In 1985, the contracting market was still bad. The property on Damsgård was sold to G. C. Rieber. Frydenbø Invest AS was established in 1986 and started cooperating with Mjølner Industrier AS and Mjellem & Karlsen AS. That same year we bought Mjølner Industrier, and added the production of steering gears into this company. This is the last year that Frydenbø AS is acting as a manufacturing company for a short period.
1986 – 1996 New investments – new challenges
William Knudsen AS, an sales and service provider of diesel engines, propeller systems, generator sets and turbochargers, was in 1986 acquired and this company later on changed the name to Frydenbø Power AS.
In 1n 1993, the 3rd generation took over the shares, and Knut Herman Gjøvaag became general manager in Frydenbø Holding AS the following year. The company continued to focus on automotive, real estate, manufacturing and shipping.
In 1991, Ulstein acquires 67% of the shares in Frydenbø-Mjølner AS, and a new name change is decided - Ulstein Frydenbø AS. In 1996, Ulstein bought the remaining 33% of the shares and the control of the machine factory was now in other hands. The owner company was sold several times, and is now a part of the Rolls Royce Marine.
1996 – 2006 Expansion
Ship Audit AS (now part of Frydenbø Industri) buys Western Shiprepair Yard in Lithuania. This is a part of the privatization process in Lithuania. In 1999, we tried to make money out of the shipyard operations in Lithuania, but without great success, the Western Shiprepair Yard was sold the following year.
In 2001, Frydenbø buys Damsgårdssenteret AS (now named Frydenbø Marina AS) from GC Rieber Eiendom AS. Frydenbø is now back to the area where they first started its business in 1916. The company also buys Damsgårdsveien 135-139 (the old Mowinckels Margarine Factory) and Damsgård is again a significant development project. That same year we purchase Damsgårdsveien 143. Frydenbø Bilsenter acquires Jaguar agencies while Frydenbø Båtsenter is established. Frydenbø Marine Equipment AS is established in 2005 as an equipment supplier to the marine industry.
In spring 2006, portions of Frydenbø Eiendom AS is sold or restructured d in a new company. Kristianborg Eiendom AS now owns 50% of the shares in the newly established company Frydenborg Eiendom AS In October 2006, the group splits into three divisions: Frydenbø AS (consumer – car and boat), Frydenbø Eiendom AS and Frydenbø Industri AS. Frydenbø Industri buys Sabb Eiendom AS and Sabb Motor AS the same autumn. The company is given the name Frydenbø Sabb Motor AS. Production continues in the same premises as before.
2007 – 2012 Several acquisitions
In spring 2007, Frydenbø Industri AS buys 15,4% of the shares in the SCHOTTEL Group – one of the world’s leading propeller manufacturers. The company is rapidly growing and the turnover in 2008 was approximately 260 million euros. In order to meet this growth, the factories in both China and Germany (Spay and Wismar) was expanded. This acquisition is an important contribution to further development of the industrial group in Frydenbø.
In December 2007, Frydenbø Industri acquires the company Brødrene Larsen AS – an electromechanical engineering workshop. With this purchase, Frydenbø Industri strengthens their technical knowledge as well as the capacity within the electro technical field. This is becoming more and more important in connection with Frydenbø Industri’s equipment and management systems which operate in several businesses in the group.
Several Frydenbø-companies moves into the new building at Damsgård 1 September 2008. Frydenbø is now back where it all started in 1916, with the new headquarters in Damsgård. In 2008, the company Brødrene Larsen AS changes its name to Frydenbø Electric AS.
The Frydenbø group revenues for about 1.1 billion NOK in 2009, by more than 300 employees. In March 2010, Frydenbø Industri buys shares in the new operating company North Sea Drilling Group. This so they can stand stronger within service and offshore. North Sea Drilling Group (NSDG) is an operating company for the “drilling section” of rigs in the North Sea, and aims to bring the drill expertise from the Norwegian offshore business to new markets – land drilling for new energy and land drilling for offshore gas.
Frydenbø Indsutri continues to grow. On 30 June 2010, the company takes over two new companies – Delta Marine AS and Christen Dale & Co AS. Simultaneously K. H. Gjøvaag Holding changes its name to Frydenbø Group AS. The name change is carried out so the entire group will emerge with a common profile, as well as clarifying the owner structure for the international business.
As part of Frydenbø Industri’s focus on the offshore market, new plans are made for a facility at Hanøytangen outside Bergen. A collaboration with the Bergen Group is also established. Frydenbø Eiendom AS buys in June, an 26 acre plot at the entrance to the industrial area on Hanøytangen (Askøy) just outside Bergen. The plan is to move parts of the groups operation here.
In January 2011, Frydenbø Industri buys half the shares in Øksfjord Slipp & Mek AS in Finnmark, and thereby they get a firm foothold in the North Norwegian market. Øksfjord Slipp & Mek is a well-established mechanical business, located in the industrial area Vassdalen in Øksfjord. The company changes its name to Frydenbø Øksfjord Slipp & Mek AS.Frydenbø Industri AS establish themselves also in Møre og Romsdal on the westcoast of Norway, and is now targeting the offshore industry as well as the marine industry when they buy 100 of the shares in the company Elek AS in Fosnavåg. The group takes over all activities of the company with effect from 20 May 2011. On 15 March 2012, Frydenbø Industri also acquire 100% of the shares in SKAMEK Service AS, which is located centrally in Ålesund with a large deep-water harbor. Frydenbø also acquires all its activities here.
2014 – Merging
In 2014, Frydenbø Industri owns a number of companies, with various names. Many of the companies were competing in the same markets, and it was therefore decided that one wanted to merge the similar companies into one large company.
From 1 January 2015, all companies that were owned by Frydenbø Industri merged into the parent company so that one could make a more holistic commitment. As many of these companies were operating in the same market, this was the right thing to do.
June 1 2015, Frydenbø Industri Bergen moved into the new facilities at Hanøytangen with over 3000 square meters. In the future this will be the headquarters for all operations in Frydenbø Industri.