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How the Expander System Group came to life and evolved

12 July 2017
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Text: Ulf Wiman

photo: Stefan Jerrevång

The Expander System Group, the latest Nord-Lock Group acquisition, shares many customers with its new parent company and their history is remarkably similar. Founded in a remote part of Sweden, evolving from an innovative idea. In Expander’s case, a rusty nail was transformed into market-leading pivot technology. Founder and former owner Roger Svensson tells the story.

First published in Bolted #1 2017.

What is Expander’s business?
“Our patented Expander System is a state-of-the-art, cost-effective solution that permanently ends pivot wear in construction, forestry, mining and other heavy machinery. Fitted in the pivot, a double-locking expanding pivot pin assembly increases stability and safety and eliminates welding and line boring of worn-out pivot lug ears. The system has been field-tested for over 50,000 hours without failure.”

How did the company start?

“My father, Everth, and his twin brother Gerhard, did road work in the 1950s, starting out with one bulldozer. Machinery joints and pivots are prone to wear and tear, leading to expensive downtime and repairs, but they came up with a makeshift solution, knocking a rusty nail into the lughole to eliminate the gap. This worked surprisingly well, which inspired them to start developing the technology.”

When did you get involved?
“I learned about their ideas and immediately saw the potential. My father and I founded the company in 1986. At quite an early stage we got involved with computer engineers in the development of a parameter-controlled CAD system. This is an invaluable tool, as each Expander System is custom made to fit customer-specific applications.

In the 1990s we expanded geographically. North America is a huge market and in 1997 I moved there to get a business foothold. The launch was successful and in 2006 we established our own production facility in North America.”

Why did you sell the company?
“Enormous markets, such as South America, are starting to develop, but you need local presence. It was about either setting up my own network or selling to someone that already had a global subsidiary and distributor network. We already collaborated with Nord-Lock and after several discussions with Ola Ringdahl, CEO, Nord-Lock Group, I was sure that the Nord-Lock Group was a perfect fit.”

What does Expander bring to the Nord-Lock Group?

“There has been a major change in how people view repair and maintenance, which makes the market potential for the Expander System huge. We’ve only scratched the surface.

Also, we and the Nord-Lock Group have often shared customers, but solved different problems. Bringing our solutions together – and cross-fertilising them – will make our portfolio and product range so much stronger, which will benefit the customers.”

Facts: Roger Svensson
Role: Founder and former CEO, Expander System Group.
Age: 56.
Lives: Sedona, Arizona, USA.
Background: Studied Economics/Political Science at UCLA (double major). Member of the UCLA team that won the prestigious NCAA swimming championships in 1982. Held a couple of positions with other companies before starting Expander with his father in 1986. “I have always been an entrepreneur.”
Passion: Music: sings, plays guitar and writes his own songs. Is currently working on his debut album. Also paints and likes to write.

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