Everything that is produced requires resources, and all these resources have some impact on our environment and on people. The resources we use and what we use these resources for is a question of responsibility.
We see it as a combination of environmental, functional and human responsibility.
As a company, we have unlimited responsibility for the big picture and it is our obligation to work on these issues at all times in order to achieve more sustainable development in the world.
Gränsfors Bruk has been manufacturing hand-forged axes for over 100 years. Every single axe is designed specifically to fulfil a particular function, with a constant focus on high quality and area of application.
There has also been a strong focus on producing axes with sound green credentials, avoiding any unnecessary consumption of natural resources.
A lot of effort has also gone into developing a product while we care about the people who have created it.
With this in mind, Gränsfors Bruk has defined three criteria that must be met when we manufacture our axes.
We shall manufacture axes with the best possible function for the axe’s area of application.
We shall manufacture axes that have as little impact as possible in our environment.
We shall manufacture axes with respect for the people who create them.
Making a good product from the above perspective is our way of showing responsibility to you, the person who will buy and use the product, to our environment and to our employees.
We do, however, acknowledge that there is even more to be done and we have therefore tried to take our corporate responsibility one step further through Agenda 2030.
We have been aware for a long time that the decisions we make as a company can have a major impact on what our environment and the world we live in will look like in the future. We have therefore always tried to manage our activities accordingly.
When the UN and world leaders joined forces in 2015 to agree on 17 common global goals and 169 associated targets to achieve sustainable development in the world, which resulted in “Agenda 2030”, we felt that this was quite right and in line with our values, what we stood for and how we used to work.
Through Agenda 2030, the UN and the world’s leaders have jointly committed themselves to, among other things, eliminating extreme poverty and hunger, contributing to better health and education, reducing inequalities and injustices, fostering sustainable industries and communities, promoting peace and justice, and solving the climate crisis.
Gränsfors Bruk was already working on many of the issues covered in the 17 goals and 169 associated targets well before Agenda 2030 became a concept, but we now have a better structure and a clear objective for our continued work in the form of the defined goals.
Using Agenda 2030 as a basis, we have therefore tried to find out how well Gränsfors Bruk fulfils these goals within each part of the business and tried to find out what more we as a company can do in order to drive these issues forward.
We are taking Agenda 2030 very seriously, and we certainly want to be involved in making a difference and influencing and creating the change that is necessary if we are to achieve the goals set for 2030.
Even though we know that we have done a lot, we realise that there is still a great deal to do. We also realise that this is urgent. We only have a few years to act!
Gränsfors Bruk’s contribution to the global goals
Gränsfors Bruk has been around for generations, and our fundamental aim is to be around for at least 100 more years. The way to achieve this is to continue to strive for a business that is as sustainable as possible, in which we produce high-quality products that will last a long time, care for the people who manufacture our products and work to ensure that our business leaves the smallest possible footprint on our planet. At the same time, we see our business in a wider context and we believe that we can contribute even more in this respect.
We have therefore systematically reviewed all 17 goals and the 169 associated targets and analysed their meaning and relevance for our business and decided how we can contribute to ensuring that these goals are achieved. Through this process we identified ten goals (goals 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13 and15) where we believe that we have made a contribution, but can also contribute more to achieving the 17 common goals. These goals are also an important part of ensuring that Gränsfors Bruk will be able to continue to exist for another 100 years.
For us, it is primarily about securing professional craftsmanship, making sure that employees are happy and healthy and that our business does not consume too much from our environment, but we also want to be involved and influence other things that may relate to the goals.
We feel that some of the goals overlap with one another, so we have therefore not specified exactly which goal we are referring to. We have, however, have tried to categorise them in three areas. Goals 4 and 11, Quality Education for All & Sustainable Cities and Communities. Goals 5 and 10, Gender Equality & Reduced Inequalities. Goals 3, 7, 8, 12, 13, 15, which we have named Man and Environment.
Below is a more detailed description of the goals that we have selected, where we have been working actively and where we feel that we can influence even more.
We have also tried to identify the goals that are not as relevant to our business (goals 1, 2, 6, 9, 14, 16, 17) and where it is more difficult for us to exert influence. We consider that we have fewer opportunities to influence these goals and we must therefore pass on that great responsibility to others concerned. We do, however, feel that we have a general responsibility wherever we can to exert an influence to a smaller extent.
We urge everyone to familiarise themselves with all 17 goals, including the 169 associated targets, and to then try yourself to influence them as much as possible in those areas where there is a possibility. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.
Quality Education for All & Sustainable Cities and Communities
Mankind has been using axes for more than one million years. Throughout history, the axe has helped us to source wood for our fires, build our homes and protect ourselves against our enemies. For much of human history, the axe has been a tool that has meant the difference between life and death. We at Gränsfors Bruk are therefore driven by a responsibility to make sure that knowledge of axes and the manufacturing of axes is preserved for future generations. An axe is only as good as the accumulated professional skill of the people who forged, ground and attached the handle to the axe. All of the axes we manufacture are made by human hand. And all these people deserve great respect and recognition for their professional expertise. Our company would be nothing without them.
If we do not work actively to transfer knowledge and train people in the company, and also outside the company, a very important body of knowledge that belongs to our history might disappear forever, taking with it an extremely important part of our cultural heritage. For both for Sweden and the world.
To contribute to the goals, it is first and foremost a question of educating people about everything that can be associated with axes, but also about learning in general. It is essential for us that professional knowledge of axe manufacturing is preserved. We are therefore actively working to make sure that the knowledge we as a company possess is retained and passed on, even if employees leave us. We work on an ongoing basis to have mentors within the company who can pass on knowledge to the next generation and to continuously document what we do so that this knowledge does not disappear.
We offer work placements and summer jobs for both Swedish citizens and new arrivals so that their knowledge of axes and our cultural heritage will increase, and they can acquire greater work experience that will enable them to contribute more to society at large. To contribute to life-long learning that does not always relate directly to axes, we also let our employees set aside working time for personal skills development, such as learning more about Agenda 2030.
In addition to this, we are constantly trying to spread knowledge about axes and axe manufacturing. We therefore invite the general public to visit us, offering activities including guided tours and forge days in our factory, courses in forging and log-building, and the opportunity to visit our very own axe museum. We have also produced a book about axes, which accompanies every axe, and have tried to create a website with as much information as possible about everything to do with axes.
We have also focused on social media, including Instagram, to get our message across and profile our business.
To make sure that information we have previously produced and information that we produce on an ongoing basis are also preserved and can contribute to life-long learning and give everyone the opportunity to study our cultural heritage, we have also contacted the “Swedish Centre for Business history” in order to archive and document our history.
We try at all times to consider the community, both locally where we operate and have our production, and globally. We work actively to strengthen links with different markets and business partners through continuous visits, and down the years we have developed close collaboration with our suppliers, customers, local and regional industry and the municipality where we operate.
No matter who we have a business relationship with, we always try to consider what might be best for society at large and what we as a company can do to exert an influence. We have therefore made an active choice to keep our entire production in Sweden and not to outsource production to a low-wage country. Nor do we have any desire to move our company outside Sweden to optimise our tax situation and thus possibly pay less corporation tax.
We try to be an open, transparent company and we want to be involved and contribute to society by creating jobs and paying our taxes, which in turn can help social divisions to diminish and give us a more sustainable, stable and secure society. As we also keep our production in Sweden and open it up so that the general public can come and visit us and see our production live, we are actively contributing to the preservation of our cultural heritage.
Gender Equality & Reduced Inequalities
Gränsfors Bruk operates in a male-dominated industry and we therefore want to drive its development towards a more even gender balance. This means we are actively trying to employ both men and women at all levels of the business. We must of course treat all employees fairly and on the same conditions, and we do not accept the occurrence of bullying, racism or any other discrimination. Nor do we accept different wages for the same work.
We also try to achieve a good mix of young and old, which means we try to employ people with varying levels of work experience. To give all employees in the company a chance to learn more about different cultures, we try to employ people with different cultural backgrounds and beliefs.
We also want to find different ways of increasing the equal take-up of parental allowance, thereby promoting shared responsibility for families and households. We encourage both women and men in the company to take parental leave.
We also believe that diversity enriches and we are therefore working actively on initiatives such as offering summer jobs to local young people, thereby contributing to the development of sparsely populated areas and offering placements to new arrivals, disabled people or other people who are often disconnected from the labour market.
We believe that it is our duty to give people a chance to be included in social, economic and political life, even if you are disconnected from the labour market. We therefore maintain very close cooperation with our municipality and neighbouring municipalities in order to help these people access the Swedish labour market.
Man & Environment
Gränsfors Bruk must try to act on the basis of a long-term perspective.
Everything that is produced requires resources, and all these resources have more or less of an impact on our environment and on people. The kind of resources we use and how we make the best use of them, how we choose to produce a product and what ecological footprint our product leaves on our planet is a question of responsibility.
This is not only responsibility towards the person who produced the product or towards the user who uses the product, but it is a responsibility for the big picture. All the choices we make in order to produce the product must represent an attempt to contribute to an improvement, both for the individual person and for the environment in which we live.
Gränsfors Bruk must be a company in which people enjoy their work, and we must take care of the people who work both for us and with us. For us it’s not all about the bottom line, we must constantly focus on the good health and well-being of our employees and business partners.
Work in the forge can be tough, and we have therefore focused a lot on improving the physical work environment in production. Among other things, we have completely phased out hazardous chemicals, improved air quality through investments in new, efficient fan systems and conducted an ergonomic review for those who do the work. We work continuously on our safety procedures in production in order to achieve the safest possible work environment.
We invest heavily in occupational health care and offer our employees gym facilities, access to healthy eating and time for personal development. This has also included involvement in the sponsorship of non-profit organisations that work against drugs in the area where we operate and society at large.
For us, it is also a given that we have collective agreements for all our employees, pay them competitive Swedish salaries, provide entitlement to holidays and pension provisions and the opportunity to achieve a good work-life balance. We want those who work for Gränsfors Bruk, as well as those who work with Gränsfors Bruk, to feel that we are a long-term employer and business partner that cares for the good health and well-being of people.
Gränsfors Bruk is an energy-intensive business, so we strive constantly to reduce our energy consumption. We invest in energy-saving measures on an ongoing basis, and to minimise our energy consumption we have, among other things, replaced the entire fan system in the factory, insulated most roofs and walls, replaced all lamps with LED lamps and replaced almost all windows with new, more efficient, triple-glazed windows.
All the oil previously used to heat the property or to heat the steel for our axes has also been completely phased out, and we have instead replaced the heating in the property with geothermal heating, and the steel is now heated by means of modern HF furnaces.
Thanks to this focus on constantly lowering energy consumption in the factory, in 2015 we won E.ON’s major energy prize in Sweden in the SME (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) class. But this is not enough for us. We have also been working for a few years now on a plan to become fully self-sufficient in electricity through renewable energy that we own ourselves. As a first step, and in order to learn more about this, we have therefore invested in both solar cells and hydro power at Gränsfors Bruk’s sister company Wetterlings, so that this can then be applied at Gränsfors Bruk in a second stage.
Although we focus heavily on our internal energy consumption and how it affects our environment, we must also be very aware of who Gränsfors Bruk collaborates with, where we source our material and what kind of material we use in our products and in our production. We have therefore taken great care when selecting our raw materials and suppliers.
When producing our axes, we use recycled steel, vegetable tanned (and therefore chromium-free) leather and wooden handles made of hickory. The choice of material is important, not just from an environmental perspective in the manufacturing process, but also in terms of what happens to the materials when the axe finally reaches the end of its useful life. The steel can be recycled, the leather and the handle will decompose, so no waste is created.
We aim to remove everything that is unnecessary and that is not needed in the production of our product. We have therefore made a conscious choice to minimise unnecessary grinding and polishing of the axe. If we instead focus on doing a good job in the actual forge, we do not then need to grind and polish the product as much. This means that we not only consume less energy in the grinding process, but above all that we do not need to buy in as much abrasive material, resulting in a reduction in the production of abrasive material and therefore fewer transport operations to us, resulting in reduced CO2 emissions.
We have also made an active choice not to paint our axes. We do not believe that painting axes adds any value, but rather that the paint can be harmful to the environment and contribute to more transport operations.
We believe that it is our responsibility as a producer to make relevant demands and to visit and check our suppliers on an ongoing basis in order to make sure that they are not only good suppliers from a human and environmental perspective, but also that they are good inasmuch as they have a sustainable pattern of consumption and production.
We must always strive to continuously reduce the impact on our environment, and we therefore strive to always work with suppliers that have as little impact on the environment as possible. This applies both to the material that Gränsfors Bruk buys from the supplier and also what our supplier’s production operation looks like. Our goal is to first of all acquire knowledge of the entire cycle of our products, before, during and after the manufacturing process, and then to try and influence as much as we can at all stages.
We believe that many products currently being used in our society have far too short a life cycle, which means that our environment and our planet are adversely affected. We are therefore endeavouring to make products that last a long time so that we need to produce as few products as possible in the long term. If we manufacture few products, but ones that are long-lasting, first and foremost we do not need to consume as many resources from our planet, but above all we do not need to transport materials or goods between different destinations as often.
In factories nowadays it is also usual for the employee to be paid per product produced, which can result in the quality of the product being poorer. The focus is on churning out as many products as possible instead of focusing on quality. We believe that is wrong and we must change that.
We have therefore chosen to completely abolish piece rates or other compensation linked to how many axes are produced. We believe that forging is craftsmanship that must be allowed to take time, and that the blacksmith should instead focus on producing axes of very high quality.
It is not our goal to be the biggest producer of axes, manufacturing as many axes as possible. Our goal is instead to manufacture the best axes there are, ones that instead last a very long time.
As proof of our goal to produce sustainable products that last a long time, we offer a 20-year guarantee on our axes.
Gränsfors Bruk’s general responsibility
Under these goals, we consider that we have fewer opportunities to influence them and we must therefore pass on that great responsibility to others concerned. We do, however, feel that we have a general responsibility wherever we can to exert an influence to a smaller extent.
goal 1. no poverty
Among other things, we try to influence and use suppliers that have collective agreements and pay competitive wages. We contribute to the creation of jobs in sparsely populated areas and work together with the public employment service to offer jobs to new arrivals.
goal 2. zero hunger
We offer, among other things, fruit and healthy snacks to our employees and offer organic food options in our summer restaurant Augustas.
goal 6. clean water and sanitation for all
We try to minimise water consumption in our entire production process and among our employees. We support work to improve water and sanitation management in the local community where we operate. We have also focused on not releasing any hazardous chemicals from our factory in order to reduce pollution in nature.
goal 9. sustainable industry, innovation and infrastructure
We have invested heavily in our production facility in order to use cleaner and more environment-friendly technologies and industrial processes. We have, among other things, invested in a new fan system that consumes much less electricity, in geothermal heating to heat the property and solar cells to generate electricity. We will also be installing charging stations for electric cars and we try constantly to give our employees time to stimulate development and creativity in this area.
goal 14. life below water
We have made sure that our production does not emit any hazardous waste that might create pollution in the sea.
goal 16. peaceful and inclusive societies
We have worked a lot with our core values and the kind of work culture that we want. We try to maintain an open dialogue within the company so that all employees feel included. We try to be responsive if there is violence within families among our employees. We have zero tolerance of corruption or bribery in all our business relationships.
goal 17. implementation of global partnership
We consciously select our customers and markets and follow the guidelines that Sweden has defined for which countries we should trade with.