90s

The Rapid era

OffSet wheels

In 1990 the company had just over 125 employees. It started off rough economically but throughout the decade economic conditions improved and times got better. In the middle of the 1990s recruitment increased by 200 and ended up being around 300.

If it’s not a combi it’s not a drill

Bo Stark, the youngest son in the family had in the years prior to this taken charge of the Swedish market and was deeply involved in a successor for the DS-drill. The drill was good, but lacked much with respect to the type of drilling that could be expected in the future. An important requirement was ‘combi’, a drill that could sow and fertilise at the same time. “If it’s not a combi, it’s not a real drill”, declared a farmer. The drill needed to have a high load capacity and the ability to operate ‘in all weathers’.

Rapid and Concorde entered the stage

During 1990, intensive development work began on two drilling systems: ‘Rapid’, which had its origins in the earlier DS-drill and ‘Concorde’, which was based on the NZ-cultivator. Prototypes of the two machines were exhibited at the Swedish farm show Elmia in the autumn and received a very positive response from farmers. Manufacturing began and a new era was introduced in the factory. This new drilling technology proved to be ground-breaking.

The Rapid seed drill that was to come was related to the DS-drill as regards the seed coulter system, but from a construction perspective it was still a new blank page. The company began a long and expensive journey through difficult times. However, farmers expressed great enthusiasm and this was a support during the hard work in a time hedged around by difficulties.

The Concorde drill was introduced

Concorde

At the same time as the Rapid, the Concorde was being developed. It was a new drilling system based on the legendary NZ-cultivators. The system offered an enormous capacity but was not as flexible as the Rapid. Farmers were familiar with the ongoing Rapid and Concorde projects because of the broad interface Väderstad has always maintained with the farming community. The aim has been of course to collect every vital customer opinion.

The verdict was very positive in all cases, not least as regards the construction, with the soil tilling front section on the Rapid drill. The savings that customers would later make using these drills could only be imagined at this stage.

Strong foothold in Sweden

During the 1990s, Väderstad has greatly increased its volume in Sweden, while the international markets have expanded even more quickly. Seed drills were responsible for half the sales volume in Sweden, rollers and cultivators the rest. “Soil tillage and drilling are to an ever greater degree being carried out in a single operation and with a single machine. That is a part of our concept and good business for the farmer”, says Bo Stark, who is responsible for Väderstad-Verken’s sales in Scandinavia.

Export to the Nordic countries

First Rapid in Finland
The first Rapid drill delivered to Finland

Exports from Väderstad-Verken to our Nordic neighbours can be traced back to the late 1960s. Farmers in the Nordic countries have little by little, and to an ever-increasing extent, adopted Väderstad technology. Often, individual farmers and import firms have had a driving role in the technical development. For climatic reasons, Nordic users place different demands on machinery than users in countries with different soil types. Over the years, this has resulted in some of the Väderstad range only being available in Scandinavia.

The establishment of subsidiaries

On a grey November day in 1992 at the sales office in Väderstad, and after confirmation by the Board, Crister Stark, Christina Stark and Einar Gudmundsson decided to ring the head of Väderstad’s importer in England. The contract with the importer was to be terminated with the aim of starting Väderstad-Verken’s first subsidiary abroad, Vaderstad Limited. Soon enough Väderstad displayed its products at its own stand at the Smithfield Show, to a successful reception by sales firms and farmers.

The Rapid was tested in UK

A test project was carried out in the spring of 1992 in England, in collaboration with David Baker and Birdseye. David Baker was known as a successful grain and peagrower in Suffolk who was careful with resources. The England project showed that Rapid, by local standards, was very suitable for drilling peas in the spring directly into the autumn-ploughed furrow. “Rapid’s precision and minimal soil compaction gave a new dimension to pea growing”, says Einar Gudmundsson.

Other markets followed

Encouraged by the establishment and success in England, subsidiaries were rapidly established in several other countries: France in 1994, Poland in 1996, Hungary in 1997 and Germany in 1999.

In parallel, a collaboration started with import agents at places further away from Väderstad, e.g. Saudi Arabia and New Zealand.

Customer benefit has always been the hallmark of operations and close contact with customers is a strong characteristic of the company.