On 6 July 1910, Nils Ludvig Lagerstedt and Anton Leonard Krantz found the independent agency and hardware manufacturing firm Lagerstedt & Krantz. The firm conducts activities in the Swedish hardware and general merchandise trade, with products such as storm lanterns and mosquito nets, as well as farm pumps, hydrophores and water heaters.
Lars Schuberth and Albrecht Behm take over the business in 1933. They register the limited company Lagerstedt & Krantz AB. They gradually increase the focus of the business towards water, sewage, heating, ventilation and sanitation products, but difficulties during and after the war years in obtaining import licenses for water and sewage pipes, along with increased competition in the domestic market, lead the company to the decision to abandon its range of water and sewage products and instead focus on heating, ventilation and sanitation products, with large-volume sales of washbasins and toilet seats from Royal Sphinx in Holland.
As general agent for KWC (Karrer Weber & Cie.) in Unterkulm in Switzerland, the company enjoys major success with the sale of faucets for hospitals, medical centres, etc. at a time when county councils throughout Sweden are investing in the expansion of the healthcare sector.
An important event in LK’s history during the 20th century occurs when the company becomes the general agent for Conex’s easy-to-install pipe fittings for HVAC installations. Conex becomes the cornerstone of the future growth and good profitability that is used to create a nationwide sales organisation. LK gradually expands the product range with proprietary innovative components. Examples include the one-piece reducer for the Conex range and the Stamco distributor for radiator systems. The agency is retained for 50 years, and some sales of Conex fittings still continue to this day, although the products have now largely been replaced by press fittings.
The company expands the HVAC product range with pipes and piping components in PEH plastic from suppliers such as Geberit, and it prefabricates in-house tailored plumbing solutions for housing and eventually also proprietary roof drainage systems according to the full flow principle. The product range for housing forms the basis for today’s business operations in LK Prefab.
With the achievement of success, the company grows in size and is able to invest in properties for its own business operations. The industrial building Volta in Bromma is purchased in 1977, and office and warehouse buildings in Fosie (Malmö), Berga (Helsingborg) and Oslo are built in 1980, 1987 and 1990 respectively. The property in Oslo is sold in 2000. In Ulricehamn, the PEX factory is built in 2014, with the central warehouse added in 2017. A new office building for LK Systems is built in Lockarp (Malmö) in 2017, and the LK Systems property in Fosie (Malmö) is sold in 2018. 2023 sees the acquisition of Kulverthuset AB in Örebro, where LK Systems’ subsidiary Maxitherm AB is a tenant. The industrial property in Torpshammar (Ånge) is included in LK Systems’ acquisition of Flooré AB in 2023.
From the 1980s and thereafter, the company gradually changes from a pure trading company in HVAC to a company that also develops and produces its own more technically advanced products and systems in the construction sector.
LK’s first establishment outside of Sweden takes place in Oslo in 1983 when the company now known as LK Systems AS is founded with the mission of expanding LK’s HVAC product range geographically to Norway.
The 50-year-long partnership between Lars Schuberth and Albrecht Behm comes to an end when Schubert sells his share of the company to the Behm family and Sweden Music AB (whose shares are owned by Beijer Ref in Malmö between 1987-1995). In 1995 the Behm family buys out Beijer Ref, thus becoming the sole owners of the company.
LK Armatur is established in Ättekulla in Helsingborg and moves into its own newly built property on the Berga industrial estate in 1990. The company manufactures HVAC valves, components and prefabricated units for OEM manufacturers of heating boilers and water heaters. Since its establishment, LK Armatur has launched many unique and big-selling products, such as MultiFill, ThermoMat, MultiZone and HydroMix.
Having sold a German underfloor heating system (Polytherm) for five years, LK Systems introduces a proprietary underfloor heating system adapted to Swedish building standards, which has now become the most sold solution of its type in Sweden.
Lagerstedt & Krantz AS acquires the HVAC business in A & H Andersson AS in Oslo, which later changes name to LK Systems AS, with the aim of expanding the Norwegian customer base.
LK Systems is spun off from Lagerstedt & Krantz AB and is tasked with selling its HVAC product range to pipefitters via the wholesale channel in Sweden and Norway.
LK PEX is established in Ulricehamn and is tasked with applying a newly developed technique for the production av PEX pipes and marketing the solutions via LK Systems’ companies in the Nordic region, and later also to customers in Europe and North America. In 2014 the company moves into its own specially built factory at Rönnåsen in Ulricehamn.
In 2002, the company LK Valves AS is registered in Leirvik by the Sognfjorden fjord in Norway, in order to sell the marine valves that accompanied the acquisition of the HVAC business in A & H Andersson AS in 1990. The company is eventually established with its own production in Helsingborg, and later in Changzhou, China. In 2019 the business is sold to Meson AB, a supplier of marine valves in Laholm. LK Valves AB’s operations are wound up during 2020–21.
In 2007, LK Prefab AB is established in Gävle in order to prefabricate HVAC installation solutions. Since the start of operations, LK Prefab has offered its customers solutions that improve product quality while also saving time at the workplace. Today the company operates purely as a producer for LK Systems, which markets its products in the Nordic region.
LK Armatur opens its production facility in Zrenjanin, Serbia. The facility expands and supplements the production in Helsingborg, primarily in relation to prefabrication of pipe systems in copper and stainless steel. The operations continue to grow in terms of both an expanded workforce and increased production area.
LK Systems OY is established in order to sell and warehouse LK Systems’ products in Finland. The operations have grown in recent years, resulting in a move at the turn of the year 2022/23 to new, more suitable premises in Vanda outside Helsinki, from where the continued expansion can be supported.
Through this acquisition, LK Armatur expands its range of energy-saving heating products and gains new customer contacts in Europe. As the company’s products are already clearly dominant in Sweden, the acquisition facilitates increased exports to European countries where the company sees major growth opportunities.
A new business area is established with the task of generating a return on the group companies’ excess liquidity by investing in unlisted, profitable companies with competent management in situations where LK can exercise influence through participation at board level. Now, in 2023, the company has shares in around 10 companies in a variety of sectors, which contributes to both value growth and stable profitability in the LK Group.
LK Systems opens a new logistics centre for the Nordic region adjacent to the LK PEX pipe factory in Ulricehamn. Existing warehousing operations in Malmö are moved to the central warehouse in Ulricehamn.
LK Armatur establishes a sales company in Germany, with an office and warehouse in Bad Oeynhausen. Today, the company has nationwide sales in Germany and is achieving success with the sale of its heating products to both OEM manufacturers and HVAC wholesalers.
LK Systems expands and moves the regional office for southern Sweden from the Fosie industrial estate to newly built office premises in Lockarp, Malmö. The property on the Fosie industrial estate is sold after housing LK Systems’ business operations in the southern region of Sweden for 38 years.
Quandify, in cooperation with KTH, has developed ultrasonic meters for water consumption per housing unit that can easily be installed on the outside of a water pipe, which is both time-efficient and cost-effective. Through a collaboration with Quandify, LK Systems has developed the CubicSecure water safety unit using the same technology and is now introducing this product on the market. Plans are also made for a number of other product launches using the same technology.
Through the acquisition of Maxitherm VVS AB, LK Systems strengthens its position in the HVAC sector. Maxitherm, with 75 years of experience in pipeline and thermal insulation, offers the market a wide range of flexible and energy-efficient pre-insulated pipe solutions for installation between street and building.
The company is growing, and in order to be able to meet the increasing level of demand, LK Armatur now expands its production area by 3,300 m2 in the neighbouring property on the Berga industrial estate in Helsingborg.
This acquisition provides further impetus for LK Systems’ sustainability work through the development and in-house automated manufacture of grooved insulation panels for waterborne underfloor heating. On the Swedish market, Flooré is an established complete underfloor heating supplier with focus on underfloor heating kits sold through builders’ merchants.