From a local wooden utility goods craftsman, deep in the forests of southern Sweden, to a world-leading inventor and producer of modern hardwood floors. The 160-year history of Kährs is the story of our strong passion for nature and the environment; for wood as a material and for interior design, combined with innovative thinking and a commitment to the highest quality standards.
The first pioneer behind today's AB Gustaf Kähr was Johan Fredrik Kähr (1829-1919). He was born in Mönsterås and was the son of a wood turner, following in his father's footsteps. 1857 and 29 years old, he moved to Nybro, where he settled and founded a wood turning business, manufacturing spinning jennies - a widely used product in many homes at the time.
Johan Fredrik Kähr Jr. (1855-1922) acquired his father's wood turning business in 1878 and expanded the fabrication of toys, games and pegs. He then acquired a toy production in Bjursnäs (south of Kalmar) in the 1890's. A few decades later Kährs became Scandinavia's largest toy factory.
Gustaf Kähr (1887-1971) became a big industrial pioneer, taking over from his father Johan at the tender age of 20. In 1919, Gustaf turned Kährs into a limited company - AB Gustaf Kähr, with the Kähr family as shareholders. Gustaf had the ability to see possibilities for new products and the potential of the surrounding forest's raw material. The innovator and pioneer Gustaf Kähr quickly patented many of his ideas and the business went from simple handicraft to industrial production.
In 1947 when Gustaf turned 60 and the family business celebrated their 90-year anniversary, Gustaf passed on the leadership to his oldest son Olof Kähr (1913-1973). Olof was an important machine and driver in the company's technological development - resulting in that AB Gustaf Kähr became the first on the market to introduce pre-finished floors and pre-sealed doors with painted frames.
In 1964, Ulf Kähr (1938-2013) the son of Olof Kähr, joined the business. He got the responsibility to develop Kährs internationally, exporting floors and doors around the world. As export outgrew domestic sales, he established Kährs International Inc in 1987 in San Fransisco where he became Vice President.
Today, AB Gustaf Kähr is part of Kährs Group - a world-leading flooring manufacturer in hardwood and resilient flooring with a number of strong brands in its product portfolio, including Kährs, Karelia and Upofloor. The company is dedicated to providing the market with innovative new flooring solutions. Kährs Group delivers products to more than 70 countries and is the market leader in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Russia and holds a strong position in other key markets.
Ever since the start in 1857, Kährs has always tried to be a company that is good with the environment.
In 1857, Kährs is founded in Nybro, deep in the heart of a Swedish forest, where Johan Kähr the elder sets up a shop crafting wooden utility goods, primarily spinning jennies. Today, 160 years later, our operations are still based in this small, rural town.
In 1919, Gustaf Kähr, grandson of the founder, takes over the company and changes its name to AB Gustaf Kähr. Under his leadership, the company develops and becomes an important and innovative producer of wooden doors, toys, furniture and floors. Gustaf was dedicated to finding efficient ways of using sustainable wood raw material and improving the stability of wood when used in building materials.
In 1941, Kährs is awarded a patent for the invention of today’s modern engineered hardwood floor, the multilayer floor. After World War II, the home market booms and many families build a small house of their own. This meant an increased demand for parquet floors, and a gradual termination of the manufacturing of furniture and toys.
In 1958, the first factory-lacquered floors are produced, based on methods introduced by Kährs. Previously floors were installed and sanded before being lacquered on site. The production of a factory-lacquered floor requires a high degree of precision to ensure that the surface of the floor becomes smooth and consistent.
In 1965, Kährs receives a patent for a completely new sports floor construction. Boards were nailed to a flexible batten system, which resulted in a floor that was able to absorb impacts and give a more uniform response to sports activities.
In the 1980’s, Kährs stopped manufacturing doors and focused solely on wood floors with a global expansion, starting with several markets in Europe, including the Nordic region, Germany and France, as well as the US. In the middle of the 1990’s, Kährs also moves into East European and Asian markets, such as Russia and China.
In 1984, Kährs is the first floor manufacturer able to boast an entirely solvent-free production process, having initiated its own environmental programme long before this becomes general practice in the business.
In 1995, Kährs introduces a new generation of wood floors: Linnea featuring a thin surface layer of wood, but still hard, durable and easy to install.
In 1997, Kährs gains a ISO 14001 environmental certification. Waste products from forest felling provide district heating for the community around the factory. The ash that remains is returned to the forest as fertiliser.
In 1999, Kährs introduces the world's first parquet floor with the glueless Woodloc® joint. The technology was seen as revolutionary, resulting in faster laying and perfect results.
In 2004, a new sports floor is launched by Kährs. Advantages include that it can be laid more quickly and over larger areas. The floor is approved for the global standard for sports floors and used at many major sporting events.
Nordic Homeworx was founded in Dubai in 2006 in an effort to bring premium Swedish wood flooring to the region as the exclusive distributor of Kährs in the UAE, as well as an agent for the brand in the Middle East.
In 2009, Kährs launches the next level of the Woodloc® joint system – Woodloc® 5S. These new joints make installation even faster and more flexible, while producing a stronger floor.
In 2013, Kährs introduces Master, a technically advanced 2-layer parquet flooring. The range comprises three collections: small-, medium- and large-format.
In 2015, a revolutionary, high-tech robotized design line is taken into operations at the Nybro plant. The line enables advanced preprogrammed designs adjusted to each unique plank.
In 2017, the company's 160th anniversary is celebrated by the introduction of a number of new, innovative floors. Long-term efforts continue to ensure maximum sustainability throughout the whole production process and life cycle of a wood floor – from raw material to recycling.
``A second family.`` That is how the employees at Kährs in Nybro describe their colleagues and workplace. Despite their different backgrounds and assignments in the production process, they all share a long history with the company, vast wood knowledge and a passion for the end product. Much of the activities in Nybro, bordering the deep forests of Småland, centre around the wood flooring producing plant, which provides jobs, heat and a natural meeting place.
What makes a good product great? We're certain the key to success lies in the people that produce it. It's their passion and knowledge that ensures that the quality we've been delivering over the years continues to distinguish our floors. Many of our employees have been working at the Nybro plant for generations, passing their wood knowledge to new family members, friends and neighbours that start working at Kährs.
An ounce of fashion. A pinch of electronics, fabrics, colours and interior design. A cup of technology. A dose of chemistry. All mixed together using innovative thinking, blended with experience. These are all vital ingredients in the making of new wood floors. Development driven by conviction. A precise vision. For us, it has always been to find new ways of enhancing the natural beauty of wood, while making our floors even stronger and more sustainable.