A/S Fredriksstad Saapefabrik is founded
Growth in troubling times
Fredriksstad Saapefabrik grew in spite of these problems. In its first year the work force grew from 7-8 to 20 and its products were sold nationwide. Foremost among these was the soapflake Skinn-hvitt which was highly recommended by both schools of home economics and textile factories.
Jarl, the cheapest soap powder on the market, and the soft soap Vegetal, were two other products that sold well.
T. B. Unger was quick to realize the need to invest in active marketing. During the worst years of the Depression advertisements often emphasized the patriotic duty to “buy Norwegian goods”. There was also a noticeable penchant for rhyming jingles - like this one from the launch of the new Sonora toilet soap: «In fashion you are sure to win, with beautiful Sonora skin!»
Post war years
Backing out of soap
The end of soap production led to job losses, but fortunately at a time when other employment was easy to find. T.B. Unger believed that the future lay in synthetic detergents, while the production of auxiliaries for the textile industry, which in the 50’s was enjoying a resurgence, would provide the best profits in the transition period.
Turning the tide?
The not (yet) to be merger
With falling profit margins the Norwegian chemical industry found itself hard pressed at the end of the 50’s. Added to this was the uncertainty created by the establishment of the EEC and EFTA. Mergers seemed the order of the day, and in 1958 Unger Fabrikker and Borregaard started discussions on technical and commercial cooperation with a view to a possible merger. The merger, however, was not yet to be.
T. B. Unger’s own unwillingness to “sell his own child” was undoubtedly a reason why merger plans were never realized. However, it was decided that Unger Fabrikker should again become a private limited company, with a total share capital of kr.200.000 divided between 400 shares. Since T.B. Unger himself owned all the shares but two, there was little practical change.
On the offensive
Although the 70’s were a positive period for the company, profits were often variable as a result of world events. Norway's “no” vote to EEC membership, the oil crisis in 1973 and the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, were just some of the events that, directly or indirectly, affected sales. New markets were opened up in the Far East, Africa and the West Indies, but at the same time important customers in Poland and Czechoslovakia were lost.
Ups and downs
Death of T.B. Unger
Unger Fabrikker was now looking for a new buyer. Negotiations were begun with the Norwegian company Surfatech A/S, a subsidiary of Innovatech A/S, which specialized in chemical innovation particularly in the field of surfactants, and with the Canadian Alkaril Chemicals Limited.
Rising from the ashes
The new owners’ commitment to developing the company was soon apparent. While one development project involving water purification technology proved difficult to sustain and was finally shelved after a 3-4 year period, large investments were made in the field of anionic surfactants, Unger’s core business, and proven successful.
Road to investments
Held by Thon
Agreement on Inclusive Working Conditions
In January 2005 Terje Kristiansen and Geir Karlsen travelled to Volvo Kompetansesenter in Sweden to attend the "Diplomutbildning for TPM". Total Productivity Management is a branch on "The Tree of Quality" and they conducted a 9-month long education attending 3- day sessions every month. Between every session, the students would do self-studies and solve assignments. The course also gave the students a thorough insight into how other companies work since classes took place in different locations in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. The overall idea was both simple and obvious: "All aboard". This was all about establishing a culture of increased value added in production at all times. The overall program was organizing practical systems to prevent loss and with a vision of zero mistakes, involving all functions, processes and coworkers.
Unger Fabrikker chose 5 focus areas: continuous improvements, operator maintenance, specialist maintenance, competence and visualization. The last 2 areas were important, especially the area of visualization. Amongst the employers at Unger, there was a great span of abilities and required skills, so this part of the educational program became the ultimate prerequisite for success. In the Autumn of 2005, the first Masterplan was presented to be realized by 2008.
Change of Managing Director
Jan Birger Bøler left a company better equipped than ever before to meet the justified needs and demands from the employees, the Government and society in general.
Jan Ivar Ruud quickly settled into the Unger spirit, even though there is always a certain ambivalent welcoming when management changes. One of the real blue collar veterans had a necessary visit to the Administration floor, and after a meeting with HR Manager Ann-Karin Buskoven, they went out to the reception area and met Jan Ivar Ruud. “Oh, look” says Ann-Karin. “Let me introduce you to the new Managing Director”. They greeted each other and the veteran asked where Mr. Ruud lived upon which Ruud replied “Sarpsborg”. This caused a spontaneous response from the veteran “Great, as if things could not be any worse".
Celebrating 100 years with a new building
The smell of Sulphur was intense when the old Sulphur shack was demolished in autumn of 2021, and several unexpected surprises were uncovered in the ground, but finally the building process could start.
A grand new building has risen, welcoming all into the next 100 years of Unger history. The ground floor contains wardrobes for all employees as well as large and practical meeting rooms. The first floor is designed with offices for the Marketing department.
In this new building, an exhibition representing the company`s 100- year long history will be established. The new building is standing in the exact spot of one of the company`s oldest buildings testifying continuity and a belief in the future of Unger Fabrikker - It is a brand new “Welcome to Unger Fabrikker”!
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