Lars retires after 48 years

48 years ago, it was a natural for Lars Alexandersson to start working at Hallberg-Rassy. Lars’ dad and uncle had a boat building business together on the island Orust and as a boy Lars was often there and learned how to work carefully. Those qualities have led to a successful course at Hallberg-Rassy, where he since 1972 has gradually gone from laying teak decks, via interior carpentry to responsibility for the entire production.

Lars Alexandersson began his career a bit over 48 years ago, working for Christoph Rassy in Kungsviken. The year was 1972 and the two boatyards Hallberg and Rassy had become one. But when Lars came to Kungsviken for his first working day, it was not known that he would start and he was told that the shipyard was moving 16 km further south west on the island to Ellös. Production manager Sven Nyström received Lars there.

- Coming to Ellös and seeing the production of Rasmus, P28, Mistress and Mistral felt great. I was 19 years old, full of expectations and had to start with teak decks, working next to an experienced man and learning. Rasmus did not have teak decks at that time and P 28 did not get teak decks until the end of the production life time. The trick in the job was to choose slats with the right grain direction and lay them on the side deck so that they line up in an elegant way at the center piece on the foredeck.

After a couple of years, Lars switched to interior carpentry, a specialty with high status among boat builders. Nevertheless, after eight years he wanted to try something else and got a formal education, which meant wood technology at a university. After that, the desire to build boats soon became strong again and a new job at Hallberg-Rassy was the result.

- It was good times in the yachting business and a lot to do at the shipyard in Ellös. One Sunday in November 1989, Christoph called home and wanted me to show up at his office on Monday morning at seven o'clock. I had just started again at the yard and of course wondered what I had done wrong. But he asked if I wanted to be the foreman for the new 36 footer. The yard had as many as 50 firm orders for such boats and needed someone who could ensure that production worked so that the boats could be delivered on time.

- "You will not be able to handle so many orders" we were told, and at Christmas I was nervous. We had only produced five finished boats, had 45 more to finish before the summer holidays that same year. It was a lot, but it worked, all boats were ready on time, says Lars with some pride.

It was a big step for Lars as a 35-year-old to take such great responsibility at that time.

But it went well, I was involved in introducing spray varnishing of the interior parts, which gave a much better surface finish and also significantly much better working environment, compared to the old way of sanding and hand brush varnishing inside the boats. With the help of the new faster way to get the interior details ready for installation, you did not have to wait for the varnish to dry. We were able to increase the pace and keep the promised delivery times, a promise that Christoph would not compromise on and he pushed hard, he wanted the 36’s delivered out on the market. At the same time, the 45 had just started production, the 49 was built, the 42E, the 352, the 312, the 29 and the 94 Kutter…

Christoph asked me to be the foreman, because he had hired people, including Benny Martinsson, who had started building Nord West power boats, and asked if he knew anyone who could be a supervisor for the production of the 36. To which he must have replied: You already have Lars! Benny knew me from the time we worked together at Hallberg-Rassy and that I was educated.

The 36 was a pioneer from a production point of view, when it came to the way of building Hallberg-Rassy yachts. A lot of changes in the production structure was made to cope with so many boats under construction at the same time, a set-up that was later introduced on other Hallberg-Rassy models. In addition, it was important that you knew the different strengths of your staff and could place them according to the principle "the right man in the right place". The staff know the boats and have a great deal of professional pride. The latter became apparent when we needed to re-employ after the great downturn in the boating market in 2008, when many answered yes, even though they started their own businesses or had got other jobs.

If I have to point out differences in production today with how it was when I started as a foreman in the production in 1989, nowadays there are few, if any, changes necessary on new models. In the old days, we had to measure everything, both furnishings and fittings, and there were still a lot of adjustments needed in the boat, which took time. Today we have almost all the details drawn in the computer. Which in turn means that the parts can be cnc cut out with great precision, it saves a lot of time for the interior carpenters and gives minimal waste. In addition, today there are real construction drawings, which were completely missing before.

However, Lars Alexandersson has by no means put the boat building skills behind him. Even today, he has time schedules on his mind and for that reason he makes daily follow-ups out in the construction halls to check progress at key stations such as carpentry, engine and electric installations.

- Today's boats are a bit faster to build. But the time savings in production are spent assembling all the advanced equipment. The boats are more complex than before with a lot of comfort options with advanced equipment and electronics to be assembled. Skilled technicians to install engines and electrical equipments are needed more than ever.

- I gladly admit that it is wonderful to see a boat being launched. "You should never be satisfied”, is my motto. For me, it has been very stimulating to have responsibility both for the day-to-day production, to develop new models and to have personnel responsibility. I have had a very interesting job at a very interesting company.

Lars is succeeded by Peter Abrahamsson, born 1969, who started at the shipyard on June 3, 1987.

- Before that I went to the boat building school at Östrabo in Uddevalla. The weekly schedule was school one day and practice at the yard four days a week. On June 3rd, I remember it was the last day of school ending in the morning and I started working at the yard in the afternoon of the same day. Before that, I worked two summers at the yard.

Peter has built up a solid and broad experience over the years and, among other things, attended various leadership trainings.

-I started with teak deck laying when I was 16 in 1986. Then I worked with interior fittings installations on 42E. After that I was an interior carpenter. I became a foreman in November 2005. I have also been responsible for purchasing at the yard for some time. I have been involved in installing a varnishing line and been in charge for the operation there.

 

Peter had a short period been working at another boatyard that is out of business today and also worked as production manager at a shipyard that builds navy, coast guard, sea rescue and work boats. -I was for example responsible for the construction of the sea rescue vessel Mai Rassy, although we at construction time did not know that the donor was the Rassy family and what the ship would be named. I feel comfortable here at Hallberg-Rassy, here things are better organised and there is a faith in the future in a different way than anywhere else I worked.

 

Lars Alexandersson, to the left, recieves a gold watch and a bottle of champange on his last work day

Lars Alexandersson

Lars Alexandersson

Peter Abrahamsson

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