Among those who helped make Saab what it is today are the welders who constructed the hulls for the giant ocean-going steamers at Kockums and the Lancashire smiths at the Bofors works who manned the forges in the tremendous heat. There are the women who cut out the Bonoplex plexiglass sheets in Tidaholm and the engineers who designed the turbo system for the new Saab automobiles. All were needed and all had duties that were essential for the final results.
Labour migration had major significance for the development of Swedish industry. Germans, Walloons and Frenchmen developed the Swedish mining industry back in the 16th and 17th centuries. American engineers helped with the development of Saab’s first airplane in Linköping at the beginning of the 1930s. After the Second World War, skilled factory workers from northern Italy came to Karlskoga, Malmö and Linköping. Other employees had their roots in Finland, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Poland and other countries. Saab’s international character is now a matter of course and a significant asset with employees from all over the world.
Others who made their marks over the years include those talented pioneers in engineering and business management. This naturally applies to someone like Alfred Nobel (1833–1897), whose investments in Bofors laid the foundation for the modern Swedish defence industry. But there are also names such as Sven Wingquist (1876–1953), the inventor of the ball bearing and for many years the Bofors chairman of the board as well as board member when Saab was founded, and Tryggve Holm (1905–1993), who grew up in Bofors and became a legendary Saab CEO and later the Bofors chairman of the board.
Also included here are all the related enterprises, such as Kockums in Malmö, which built a major corporate empire with a shipyard that was world leading.
We primarily associate Saab and the defence industry with highly skilled and dedicated engineers. One example is Erik Bratt (1916–2010), the lead engineer for the Draken aircraft. Bratt’s interest in aviation began when he was just four years old and he saw his first airplane. He witnessed those exceedingly rapid developments in aviation in those early years, and earned his pilot’s certificate in 1937. After a serious motorcycle accident, the air force was unwilling to accept him as a military pilot. Despite this, he finally got his chance and graduated from flight school as one of the first silver wing pilots. During his civilian career, Bratt worked at Saab for 36 years, from 1945 to 1981. Erik Bratt recorded his personal experiences in his memoirs, Silvervingar.
Saab has a vision of everyone feeling safe and secure. This is a human right. This is what motivates Saab’s employees – to continuously develop, adapt and improve new methods, smarter technical solutions and sustainable products that can contribute to realising the vision of a safer and more secure society.