History

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On 1 January 1915 John Lie Dahle and Torstein Nygaard went into partnership, each putting up NOK 2,500 to start the company “Nygaard og Dahle”. The shop in Breigaten offered a broad range of products, including fishing equipment, cordage, paint and groceries. The shop did well, and after two years they were offered the opportunity to purchase Verksgaten 14a. The two partners accepted, but it has been said that the new shop’s only employee, Helga Helganes, didn’t have a single customer in the first week after opening.

Torstein Nygaard left the company after a few years, and John Lie Dahle took over, changing its name to John Dahle Skipshandel in 1945. John Lie Dahle’s sons, John Dahle Jr. and Magne Dahle, began their careers with the company in the forties.

John Lie Dahle had previously married into the Østbø family, in which the Smedvig family also has some of its roots. Deliveries of provisions, paint and deck equipment to Smedvig vessels would prove to be an important source of income for John Dahle Skipshandel in the years that followed. The post-war years also saw booming sprat fisheries, and John Dahle Skipshandel became a big supplier of nets, fishing equipment and provisions to the fishing fleet. The company grew and eventually acquired additional premises at Verksgaten 12a.

John Dahle Skipshandel secured a deal with Esso and installed an oil tank on Grasholmen island. The company also invested in a small tanker for delivering fuel to local shuttle boats.

The fisheries industry eventually went into decline, and the company often had to wait until the fishing season was over before the fishermen could settle their accounts. Most of them paid as agreed, but some of the pawned objects would languish on the shelves for years before the debt was settled.

In 1958 the company was asked to try something new: pressing of wire rope ferrules. The decision was made to purchase a wire press and necessary accessories, and John Dahle Skipshandel became one of the first companies in the country capable of pressing ferrules, just beaten to it by an Oslo firm which took delivery of its wire press 14 days earlier. The NOK 36,200 investment in a 300-tonne press would later prove to be a key success factor for the company.

In the mid-1960s John and Magne Dahle’s cousin, Torolf Smedvig, tipped off the company about the impending oil boom, and Bjørn Dahle, Magne Dahle’s eldest son, is thought to have been one of the first people in town to set foot on an oil platform

It was the dawn of a new era. The US oil workers demanded good service and American products, and brands such as Crosby and Rust-Oleum (paint) along with items such as dope brushes became a symbol of American influence on local suppliers. Norwegian wire manufacturers were not entirely unprepared for the challenges that the oil industry posed,
and John Dahle Skipshandel ended up importing both wire and other products from the US and elsewhere in Europe. The rapid growth during this period made it necessary to increase production and storage capacity, and the company began renting premises at the base in Strømsteinen.

The 70s and 80s saw big changes for John Dahle Skipshandel. John Dahle the Younger joined the company in May 1972. His grandfather and founder of the company John Lie Dahle died in April 1975 while still actively involved in the business. The next year the company was restructured as a limited liability company with John Dahle Jr. and Magne Dahle’s respective families each holding a 50% stake.

In around 1980 John Dahle Skipshandel AS was renting premises in Verksgaten 32 and subsequently also the neighbouring property at Verksgaten 30. One of the buildings was used for wire-pressing, amongst other things, while the other mostly served as a warehouse.

In 1986 John Dahle Jr. stepped down to allow his son, Jan Wilhelm Dahle, to take over along with John Dahle the Younger. Jan Wilhelm Dahle stayed for the next decade or so. John Dahle Jr. remained chairman until his death in 1990, while Magne Dahle was actively involved in the running of the company until his death in 1987.

John Dahle the Younger and Jan Wilhelm Dahle ran the company in partnership until the end of 1996, when it was split into two. John Dahle AS would pursue the offshore business in Lervig, while John Dahle Skipshandel AS was to continue at the premises in Verksgaten. John Dahle the Younger was Managing Director of John Dahle AS, while Karsten Christensen took charge of John Dahle Skipshandel AS.

Meanwhile, in the early 1990s, the company decided to invest in a brand new product: fall protection. John Dahle Skipshandel AS acquired Klyde Consultance and subsequently grew to become one of the leading inspectors of fall protection equipment in Europe.

In 1998 John Dahle AS bought new and more modern premises at Plattformveien 6, while the marine supply business carried on as before in Verksgaten with marine retail and procurement as its main activity.

In 2000 the shop closed down, and John Dahle Skipshandel AS joined its sister companies at Plattformveien 6. At the same time all operations were assumed by John Dahle Skipshandel AS, while John Dahle AS continued as a holding company.

John Dahle Skipshandel has seen strong growth since the start of the millennium. In 2016 the company employed 33 highly skilled staff whose wide-ranging expertise has helped make the company robust and ready for the future. Jan Christian Bernhardt was appointed Marketing and Quality Manager in 2000, and in May 2005 he took over as Managing Director. Knowledge and interests have been passed from generation to generation, and John Dahle the Younger’s sons John Einar and Eirik are also actively involved in the company.

In February 2014 the company moved into new premises in Risavika in Sola. A new era has begun.