From country blacksmith to modern exporter
Starting out as blacksmiths, the Hansen family built a manufacturing company that by 1968 was exporting hydraulic cranes to 65 countries. It’s a story of willpower, wind, fire and the ability to make the right move at the right time.
1898 Setting up in Lem
On the windswept west coast of Denmark the 22-year-old Hand Smith Hansen steps off a train at the sleepy farming town of Lem.
He buys the local blacksmith workshop and quickly establishes himself as a blacksmith full of ideas and enthusiasm.
Smith Hansen is known for his trustworthiness: if any customer is dissatisfied with his work, Smith Hansen corrects it immediately.
1928 Developing the family business
Smith Hansen and his son Peder make test window frames for Lem’s new dairy. Once approved, the steel frames go into production.
Soon, they have enough orders to establish Dansk Staalvindue Industri, a company dedicated to making steel window frames for industrial buildings.
Business booms until the outbreak of World War II when occupation and rationing restrict metal supplies. The Hansens have to fight to keep their company afloat.
1945 The Vestas name is born
The war ends. Peder Hansen and a handful of colleagues, including his father, establish VEstjysk STaalteknik A/S.
The name proves unmanageable and is soon shortened to Vestas. Working from wooden barracks left empty by the Germans, Vestas starts making household appliances such as mixers and kitchen scales.
1950 Changing with the times
Peder wants the company to become international so he buys the worldwide patent for a milk urn cooler. Vestas’ employees, all from Lem’s farming community, know that agricultural equipment must be robust and practical.
They apply their know-how and expertise to produce equipment they know customers will want. Vestas exports its first goods - primarily to Finland, Germany and Belgium.
1956 Developing new products
At a family party, Søren Hansen, Peder’s brother, explains that the Burmeister & Wain shipyard is looking for a partner to develop a new type of cooler for turbo chargers.
It’s a small but creative leap from milk coolers - and the intercooler soon becomes a bestseller in the Vestas portfolio.
1960 Fire and triumph
Peder Hansen buys out his partners in 1959 to take sole control of the company but celebrations are short-lived: in 1960, the Vestas offices and warehouse burn to the ground.
Incredibly, the company goes on to record a higher turnover than 1959. And with a new factory, Vestas expands to become 100 people strong.
1968 Vestas’s biggest ever export product
With a little inventiveness, Vestas adapts to the sudden demand for hydraulic cranes for light trucks. This will become Vestas’ first export, with 96 percent of Vestas’ production output exported to 65 countries.