Friday, January 8, 2016

IVAN LUDVIGSON, THE PASSING OF A TEXTILE INDUSTRY GIANT

I was saddened to hear about the passing of Ivan Luvigson, 87, from a drowning accident at the family's summer home in Asa, Sweden. I have met many amazing people in my years in the decorative fabric industry but, I would put Ivan at the top. Early in my career at Wesco Fabrics Joline Weiss told me I needed to connect with Ivan's company, AB Ludvig Svensson when I attended my first trip to Heimtextil in Frankfurt Germany. That was the beginning of a long and wonderful business & personal relationship.




AB Ludvig Svensson has been a family affair since it began in 1887. This is a picture of the factory in Kinna Sweden in 1904. I once heard a story about Ivan's grandmother telling him he needed to get serious about life rather than being a race car driver. Ivan did get serious and began an illustrious career of growth and innovation. The company expanded from just interior textiles into greenhouse fabrics serving world markets with offices in 10 countries. 




Ivan's dynamic personality and forward-thinking business acumen, were something to behold. I loved watching him work with clients, seducing them with his energy and spirit. He knew the importance of making international connections and was a huge networker. At Heimtextil, the world's largest textile trade fair, his company hosted an elegant dinner reception with clients and staff. He orchestrated where everyone would sit. "Dick...you sit with this person from England, and Marla....you will sit with me." It was at one of these parties when he decided his son, Anders, should spend a summer working for Wesco Fabrics. I don't know how much Anders learned, but he loved hitting the golf ball at our mile high altitude and we loved having him with us! 




A few years after Anders worked for us in Denver, our daughter Lisa spent a month working for Svensson in Kinna, Sweden. She was a little surprised when she was given overalls and asked to work in the weaving factory rather than making sales calls. She loved it! When we first arrived in Stockholm for our visit, Ivan threw his car keys to me! "Dick you are driving as I lost my license!" Ivan always drove a bit fast. The bottom image shows a young man on the left, the son of a customer in Japan, who was also on a work visit. Yes, Ivan was an internationalist!


Ivan's wife Clay is shown with their family in Sweden. We were thrilled when she & Ivan came to Denver to attend our daughter Stacy's wedding!


Ivan is shown with his daughter Anne and son Anders at the company offices in Kinna. After leading the company for 50 years he passed the baton to Anne in 2006.  Anders is now vice-president. Ivan knew just about everyone in Sweden from members of the Royal Family, the founder of Ikea and the Prime Minister. Olof Palme, the Prime Minister, said on a visit to the factory in 1982, "If Ludvig Svensoon in Kinna is doing well, it means that Sweden is doing well."


Anders & Anne walk passed paintings of their famous Ludvigson lineage. I know Ivan will be greatly missed by his wife Clay and the whole family. I cherish so many fond memories of this amazing man. I know they all will do well as 4th generation leaders.

***Take a peek at this video of the company.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-mPYntV4vA



Images: Dick Gentry, Ludvig Svensson

3 comments :

  1. Dick, So sorry to hear about the loss of your friend and colleague. In life it can be difficult to find folks that we can connect with and share experiences with and they "get us". Sounds like that's what you had with Ivan and his family.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice work brother! I feel like I met him from your writings!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for sharing this information. I really like your blog post very much. You have really shared a informative and interesting blog post with people..
    DIN Abrasion Tester

    ReplyDelete