My name is Gösta Kjellme and it was I who started Viking Toys. Below is my story of Vikings' 48 years.
Until the summer of 1974, I worked with sales and exports at a toy company in Malmö where I learned a lot and where my interest in toys also grew. I was fascinated by sales and even more by making toys. I started Viking Toys in December of the same year when I felt more confident and ready for something new and something on my own. Viking Toys started very small scale at home in the garage of my father, with two plastic machines that I had bought. There, the first production of toys started. It was a very family production where my mother also helped when I was away on my sales trips. After a couple of years, I entered into a collaboration with Samhall, which at the time had plastic manufacturing in Vimmerby and Västervik. We then shared in manufacturing, of which they accounted for approximately 75% of production. This meant that I could keep a small part of the production here in Torsås and even then I was allowed to spend more time and focus on product development and sales. Two parts that still give me great happiness.
My first fair was in Nuremberg in 1977 and it was a total success! My business idea was to make the best imaginable toys in soft and indestructible plastic. The most special thing was that all my toys were durable and flexible right from the start. The best way was to explain the quality by jumping and stomping on the toys. After that, not much more sales talk was required. If you jump on a toy and it doesn't break, you do not need much more to explain. The success was a fact and our sales picked up speed. The first order went to South Africa. There were only a few products I could offer, three assortments with a few different models in each: 7 cm, 10 cm, and 15 cm. Already the following year, I had a wider range and the demand immediately became much greater. Then we got in touch with, among others, the USA, who became our distributor for a full 42 years. In Australia, among other places, we still have the same distributor after 41 years.
In the autumn of 1996, after 3-4 difficult years, I started looking for a new plastic factory and then in Asia. First I looked in Asia but quickly realized I didn't like it there. But in the spring of 1997, I found a factory in the middle of Thailand, more specifically in Narkon Ratsasima, which agreed with my view on how to treat your staff and the atmosphere in a workplace. For a full 15 years, we had our production in that factory and I made many good friends who I still meet today. Unfortunately, the same thing happened here as in Sweden 15 years earlier, prices skyrocketed by almost 100% and our sales fell.
So in 2012, the move this time was to Vietnam where we have our production today. However, it must be said that I first made a valiant attempt to move production to Sweden. However, we have a lot of manual assembly work in our production so it fell through.
Moving an entire production from Thailand to Vietnam when we have about 450 tools, and each tool weighs about 200 kg (a total of about 90 tons), was a big challenge and it became a new experience. We also owned a number of assembly machines we moved with. Over the years, I have built up a very good collaboration with the owner of the factory, Christoffer. Today I see him as a friend and a colleague. We also have an employee at the factory, Tuan Ho who is our production manager.
2021, my biggest dream has come true: At the turn of the year 20/21, my eldest daughter Caroline took over as CEO of Viking Toys. Not only that, both my other 2 daughters also work in the company. I am still very much involved in Viking Toys and have the pleasure of coming to our head office in Torsås every day. I enjoy it very much despite the setbacks of recent years with the pandemic. We invest heavily in our sustainability work and our Ecoline series. This is with great joy and we look forward to what the future has to offer.