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The history of Lundberg dates back to the 1920s when Alerick Halvar Lundberg started working for a sulfite pulp manufacturer on the East Coast of the United States before moving on to work for the J.D. Jennsen company, a leading designer and supplier of acid manufacturing and recovery systems for the Sulfite Pulp Industry. In the early 1930s, Lundberg and his wife, Linea, moved to Seattle, where he became the West Coast representative for the J.D. Jennsen Company. During this period, the pulping industry in general was moving from the sulfite process to the kraft pulping process, with many new, large mills being built in the Southern states. The West Coast was home to several sulfite-based pulp mills, and in order for them to survive, they needed to modernize and upgrade their equipment. Lundberg was quite successful in obtaining a large amount of this business for the J.D. Jennsen Company and came to be known as “Mr. Sulfite“ all along the West Coast.
In the 1930s, Lundberg met Tore Ahlen through one of their business relationships. The two became close friends and would eventually become business partners.
While Lundberg was very successful in supplying the sulfite pulping industry, it was clear to him that kraft pulping process was the future of the industry. He began to develop relationships with the Scandinavian companies supplying equipment for the kraft process, eventually becoming the West Coast representative of Paper Machinery Ltd. (PML) and Svenska Flaktfabriken (SF). PML was the exclusive North American licensee of Karlstad Merkanske Werkstad (KMW), a company that would become one of the parties forming the company “Kamyr.”
Although Lundberg was becoming more active in the kraft pulping industry, he continued to serve the sulfite pulping industry, eventually developing a series of technical papers that were ultimately published in hardcover format as Acid Making in the Sulfite Pulping Industry in the mid-1940s.
In 1951, Lundberg formed his company A.H. Lundberg, Inc. (AHLI), acting as a representative for some of the most important companies in the pulping industry. During this time, he was joined by his son, Lennart Alerick Lundberg, who had gained extensive experience in the industry by spending a year in Karlstad, Sweden, with Kamyr, working on the development of the continuous digester. A noteworthy event occurred in 1953, when SF cancelled its representative agreements in North America, severing the relationship between AHLI and Kamyr. Also in the mid-1950s, AHLI’s evaporation principal, General American Transportation Corporation, closed its doors. AHLI, together with a former GATC employee now acting as a consultant, began to develop their own evaporation process, culminating in their first sale to Elk Falls mill in Campbell River, B.C., in 1955.
The year 1954 also brought about the formation of the company Lundberg Ahlen Equipment, Ltd (LAEL), which was jointly owned by A.H. Lundberg and Tore Ahlen. The company was formed by the partners to serve the Canadian pulping industry. The histories of AHLI and LAEL, as well as their successor companies, are closely linked from this time through the 1980s due to the relationships of the Lundbergs, both father and son, and Ahlen, and later Bob Muller. The companies collaborated to bring technical innovation and entrepreneurial spirit to the pulping industry, particularly on the West Coasts of Canada and the United States. They were able to leverage their reputations on the West Coast to expand throughout North America and the world. To increase their presence in Europe, the companies developed a relationship with a Portuguese partner, which eventually led to the creation of A.H. Lundberg Limited (LDA) in Lisbon, Portugal in 1969.
In addition to representing Kamyr and others, and also developing its own evaporation technology, AHLI was also developing processes peripheral to the fiber line. The processes developed were quite diverse, encompassing environmental processes (collection and destruction of noncondensible gases and foul condensate stripping), heat recovery (from batch kraft blow heat and thermomechanical pulping), and byproduct recovery (turpentine and soap).
Halvar retired from AHLI in 1967, at which time his son, Lennart, was named president of the company. With Halvar’s retirement, the company also lost its representation agreement with Kamyr and became more reliant on its own technologies. Fortunately, the company had a wide range of products to offer, and it continued to develop new processes to serve the pulp and paper industry, including chlorine dioxide generating systems, as well as systems designed to treat the waste streams from this process.
The years of 1975–1976 brought significant changes to Lundberg. New companies were created, new alliances were formed, and a new hire was made that would make a significant impact on the future of the company. AHLI was reborn as A.H. Lundberg Associates, Inc. (AHLA) and LAEL reincorporated as A.H. Lundberg Equipment Ltd. (AHLEL). A new Lundberg company was opened in Austria to serve the Eastern Europe market. Due to civil unrest and nationalization concerns, the office in Portugal was relocated to Belgium.
The year 1975 also marked the arrival of Elmer Guthrie, who was hired to bring under control several projects that were in difficulty. He had extensive project management experience with his previous companies and had been described by Muller as being “…the future man of the hour.” Several other individuals would be brought on board during this time frame who would have a significant role in the growth of the company. Bruce Beckstrom began as the Technical Director in 1977, continuing the technical innovation focus of the company. Rudi Miksa was hired as the South Regional Sales Manager in 1981, while Carl Smith was brought on in 1982 as the Southeast Regional Sales Manager. Both were well known in the industry in their regions, and together with Guthrie and Beckstrom were instrumental in the growth of the company throughout the United States.
More turmoil occurred for AHLA in 1983. Disagreements among the ownership resulted in the departure of Lennart Lundberg from AHLA. Additionally, the partnerships with the European Lundberg companies were dissolved, leaving only the offices in Washington State and British Columbia. As Lundberg went on to pursue other opportunities, Guthrie was named president of AHLA. Guthrie would lead AHLA through the 1980s and ’90s. This period saw a significant increase in environmental regulation in the United States, particularly at the state level. Another change in the business environment in the industry was a move toward vendor-led turnkey, or EPC, contracts. Lundberg was quite successful with environmental projects, and this success, together with success with EPC contracts, led to a significant amount of growth during this period.
Guthrie retired 1999, and Joe Fedler was named the company president. Fedler joined the company in 1981 as a project engineer, rising through the ranks to lead the production department. As president, Fedler led one of the major additions to the Lundberg product line.
In 2002, Lundberg acquired the intellectual property of Geoenergy International Corporation, which designed and supplied environmental control systems to a variety of industries. The primary products included the Wet Electrostatic Precipitator (Wet ESP) and Regenerative Thermal/Catalytic Oxidizer (RTO/RCO). Along with the acquisition of Geoenergy’s technology, Lundberg also brought on board the company’s former principals, Steve Jaasund and Gary Raemhild, as well as several other former employees. The Geoenergy products would go on to become important additions to Lundberg’s line of environmental control products.
The year 2003 saw Lundberg re-enter the European market with the launch of A.H. Lundberg Systems, S.L., located in Bilbao, Spain. Together with the extensive representative network, Lundberg was truly an international organization, conducting business in the pulp and paper industry in virtually every part of the world.
In 2004, Fedler retired as president, maintained his role as company chairman. Beckstrom took over as president, using his technical knowledge and industry contacts to continue to grow the company until his retirement in 2009.
As Lundberg moves forward into the 21st century, we maintain our focus on the pulp and paper industry, helping clients worldwide with their Environmental, Evaporation, Energy Savings and Chemical Processing needs. We also continue to provide process systems and solutions to help companies in a wide variety of industries meet their environmental compliance requirements. While we look forward to the future, we also value the legacy of those who brought us to where we are today. Their innovative designs and processes not only led to the growth and success of Lundberg, but also have improved the industries we serve, and the environment that we live in. The process of valuing the past while looking boldly to the future for opportunities to serve our clients and improve the environment is what we call “The Lundberg Legacy.”