The Ostrobothnian coast in western Finland has a strong spirit of entrepreneurship and nursing, amongst others many businesses within the plastic sector. With five years’ experience in the sector Bernhard Herrmans, and wife Lisbeth, founded the Company on the 28th of April 1959, at just 26. They produced rim tapes at weekends on an extruder he had hired from one of the local plastic companies. He acquired his very first extruder at 9.35am on 2nd November 1966. The same year Herrmans started exporting to Sweden. In response to a request from Norway he also bought an injection-molding machine and started producing grips in 1969.
From a small room in the family home the business moved to an 80 square-metre house on their property in 1970. Two years later, the first production hall was built on the current HERRMANS® business premises in Sandsund, by Jakobstad. Reflectors for grip ends came into the picture and soon afterwards (in 1976) the company launched its first reflector, the Safety Wing. This orange lollipop-shaped reflector was a big success and exported in huge quantities to Germany in the late 1970s. That same year (1976) Herrmans began automating rim tape production and in 1977 the company hit the jackpot overtaking the market in the northern half of Europe with the price and quality combination for rim tapes.
Chain guards were added to the list of merchandise in 1982. After a slow start for spoke and rear reflectors in 1981, sales boomed in 1986 after Sweden made spoke reflectors compulsory on bikes. At the end of this boom Botnia Shipping, later Wicoria, bought the company from Herrmans. The company struggled with serious profitability problems 1987-90 causing a reduction in the labour force from just under 110 to around 45.
However, HERRMANS® knew that innovation was the way forward and did not hesitate to come up with new ideas. In 1989 HERRMANS® presented the first LED-based bicycle light in the world and in 1991 bicycle helmets were brought onto the market.
In 1992 the Herrmans NORDIC LIGHTS® division began selling lights to the heavy duty industry (i.e. mining machines), inspired by former managing director Lars Kronholm (1987-2003). The work lights demanded so much capital that the production of bicycle helmets was stopped in 1994 to allow for further investments. At the same time Waasan Vanne was acquired. Today, the heavy duty work lights of the NORDIC LIGHTS® division are an important part of Herrmans, operating in a global market. In the meantime, the HERRMANS® bicycle division operates in the whole of Europe with sales increasing in Asia.
In 2002 the operative management and two external shareholders bought the company; at the same time, Waasan Vanne was sold to another party. The management’s acquisition accelerated the sales in both bicycle and work light divisions. In 2015 Tom Nordström takes over the responsibility as CEO, after Reijo Tiuraniemi (2003-2015) that steps back and becomes Senior Advisor. Today, HERRMANS® is the leading rim tape, reflector and grip manufacturer in Europe. The company’s main focus is currently on bicycle lights and chain guards to maintain growth.