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About Skovby Furniture

About Skovby Furniture

Skovby Logo
Pictured: Thorvald Rasmussen, founder of Skovby. (Left) As a perky lad (Right) A newly qualified cabinet maker
Thorvald Rasmussen
Skovby was founded by a talented cabinet maker, Thorvald Rasmussen in 1933. At 23 years old, the young Rasmussen started up his own family business in his mother's little house in Skovby. Thorvald was from a farming family on Herskind Hede. Fate made a widow of his mother who had 8 children and she had to sell the family farm and purchased a house in Skovby Stationsby. Not a fancy house, but one in which the beginning of the Skovby story would begin. Strangely enough, Thorvald did not have a natural basis for his skills as a wood worker as none in his family could inspire him in such things. But he knew how to use his hands, and also his head. He decided to become a cabinet maker. With his well developed flair for the details of design and styling, he got an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker under Anders Bak in Hammel. Soon after, a worldwide financial crisis would result in the famous Wall Street crash in 1929, unemployment became a reality for many and Thorvald as well. He moved home with his grandmother in Skovby and was luck enough to get work in a hotel.

Skovby - Rasmussen Family
The White House was the center of Skovby's early start as a factory in 1943.
The White House in Skovby
It was in the Skovby home that Thorvald Rasmussen decided to start hos own business. He was talented, hard working and always had dreamt of owning his own business. An entrepreneur well ahead of his time. In the beginning conditions were hard and the space was quite tight but he had his cabinet making skills. so that opened up opportunities for small-scale production of furniture. While working in the hotel, Thorvald would meet his future wife Rigmor as the two fell in love and were married. Thorvald's wife helped in the early production and sales even going so far as helping with surface treatments of the furniture. She gave finished pieces waxing and polishing which was not unusual back then for women to help in production when necessity required it. In the beginning it was Thorvald and Rigmor. After securing a sub-contract to build office furniture for furniture factory Nipu. This would help the start up business and in 1943 two apprentices were hired on prompting the company's expansion and physical space as well. Post war years there was a greater will in Denmark to move to indsutrialization even though the country had always been predominantly agricultural. A growing demand for long-lasting consumer goods was also building. This too coincided with a new generation of Rasmussen joining the family business.

The Parson table with different types of wood became a huge success around 1970.
Villy Rasmussen
Villy Rasmussen the son of Thorvald had two choices before him in 1950 after taking his final exam from Elise Smiths School, in Arhus. To become a school teacher or chose a career as a craftsman. It would seem to be an obvious choice, to become a cabinet maker like his dad. However, even though he was good with his hands he wasn't cack-handed as it was called then. This meant a lot of tools were not natural to work with for him. So instead he started an apprenticeship as a woodcutting machinist. That turned out to be a good choice and would have a major influence on Skovby's future with Villy's interest in machines and their possibilites for furniture While working and gaining experience at Silkeborg Møbelfabrik, he would meet his future wife Erna who was working as a seamstress and women's tailor. The background he established as a woodcutting machinist would allow him to return to Skovby as a joint owner of the company and established a division of labor with Thorvald handling sales, administration and export agreements and Villy would handle choosing and buying wood, production planning, production and apprenticeships.

The White House and Skovby facilities in 1973.
New Expansions - New Horizons
While the company had done quite well with the original White House location which had seen expansions into neighboring apple orchards and farmland. The company was beginning to grow beyond the neighboring homes and it was decided to expand with other facilities. Galten would be added to help in production. Following that facility would be a modern factory constructed in Marktoften. This new facility would better allow Skovby to keep up with the competition in a new high-tech world with state of the art machinery. Skovby cuts and dries its own wood in on site ovens. Wood is processed and then machined to exact specs. Once wood is in the right shape it is then polished both by hand and by machine. At all stages ongoing quality control is used to ensure that each piece of furniture meets the same high standards that were first employed by Thorvald Rasmussen in the small shop that started it all, continuing a legacy that has now welcomed a third generation of Rasmussen with grandsons Jørgen and Preben who would join the companies management ranks in the 1980's.



From a tree to a piece of furniture.
Skovby is of course a completed unity of three factories throughout Denmark. But the story about the company's expansion shows that the three factories today each have their own area of specialization. In a way you can say that Skovby, where everything started, today is the supplier to the other two factories in the company. Wood is processed in the original Skovby factory which includes molding, drilling machines and CNC machines.

Storeroom For Wood
The Wood is Cut Up
Advanced machining Processing
Storeroom for solid wood
The wood is cut up
Advanced machine processing

When the wood has been processed to the right shape, the materials need to be polished. The distinctive feature about the process in Skovby is that it includes polishing by both hand and machine, and polishing by an advanced robot, working day and night. At all stages ongoing quality control is carried out. The idea is that nothing can go on to the next stage before it has been checked and is deemed ok. Anything in fault is fixed on the spot or sent back through the system, - preferably to the previous stage. But in some cases it is obviously unavoidable that some things must be rejected and discarded. That way, waste is avoided wherever possible. This is no surplus production. The idea is simple: 100 units in - 100 units out.

Polishing By Hand
Polishing by hand
Polishing by machine
Polishing by robot

At the factory in Galten the work is primarily done on chipboard, which is laminated with veneered in an advanced and automated veneer press line. Depending on the unit, the veneered board is then fitted with veneer or solid edges that are supplied from the factory in Skovby. In Galten are machine workshops with advanced production equipment, such as drilling machines and double end profiles and not least CNC machines. In the polishing department, the principles are the same as in Skovby as there are machines polishing the units, but a part of the polishing work is done by hand, so that full control is with the individual worker.

Fabric Being Cut on a CNC
Storage cabinet ready to be packaged
 
Fabric being cut on CNC machine
A storage cabinet ready to be packaged