European Business: Ms. Emanuelsson, Bolon was founded by the grandfather of the current owners in Stockholm in 1949. Can you please give us an overview of what has happened since then?
Helen Emanuelsson: Our founder Nils-Erik Eklund bought waste from textile companies and turned it into rugs. He combined cotton – Bomull in Swedish – and nylon, hence the name Bolon. Later, he moved the business to Ulricehamn to be closer to the Swedish textile industry. After his sudden, unexpected death in 1967, Lars and Monica Eklund took over. In 2003, their daughters Annica and Marie took over the company. They developed Bolon from a traditional flooring industry into a design-led flooring innovator. In 2009, we launched a new concept, which we call Bolon Friends. We form collaborations with Missoni, Jean Nouvel and other internationally renowned architects and designers.
European Business: Your design approach is very international. What about manufacturing and sales? Are they international, too?
Helen Emanuelsson: Marie Eklund once said, “We create everything at home and then send it abroad.” Our entire development and production, including yarn extrusion, is carried out in Sweden. We purchase everything within a distance of 250 km from the factory. Our flooring contains up to 33% recycled material. We have our own recycling plant, where we recycle our own waste material. That is unique. And we have eliminated all hazardous ingredients and materials, such as phthalates. We are a certified Green Company with customers in 55 countries all over the world. We ship about 95% of our products abroad.
European Business: Who are your main customers?
Helen Emanuelsson: We sell to offices, museums, shops, hotels and several other commercial clients. We deliver complete flooring solutions that are both well-designed and extremely durable, thanks to the use of vinyl, which is strong and easy to clean.
European Business: Can your customers also design their own individual flooring?
Helen Emanuelsson: Yes, absolutely. In 2016, we introduced Bolon By You. Customers can design their own flooring patterns on our website, in hundreds of different colours, in warp and weft.
European Business: How long have you been working for Bolon, and what do you like most about the company?
Helen Emanuelsson: I joined the company eight years ago. Since then, I have been on a great journey with Bolon. It is a courageous company which is constantly challenging itself and never stands still. Our culture welcomes new ideas and supports everyone in being proactive. Bolon, being a family company with very visionary owners, is a fantastic company to work for.
European Business: What are your plans for the next five years?
Helen Emanuelsson: We are now in a very exciting phase where we are developing several new products for the future, such as furniture upholstery fabrics, wall fabrics and textile fibers mixed with vinyl to enter new markets. We see great potential in using our materials in applications other than flooring. We are going from flooring to the whole room.