HAGS - since 1948
In 1948, HAGS was founded in a small industrial premises in Aneby by Messrs. Hultgren, Andersson & Gustavsson. Here of the name HAG;s as it was first written. After a year or so, Rune Gustavsson will run the company alone when the partners are bought out. From the start, production is focused on products intended for the manufacturing industry. Examples of this are pallet jacks for manual use, smaller transport carts, whip racks, conveyor belts for dairies, etc. The range was soon expanded with products for the outdoor environment such as bike racks, trash cans, park furniture, whip racks. This still constitutes a large part of HAGS's sales in Sweden today
Today, HAGS is a global supplier that offers products in play, sports & fitness, parks & urban environments as well as marine & piers in more than 60 markets. Many years of experience and collaborations have made HAGS play equipment a bestseller all over the world - we take play seriously. HAGS products certainly create a lot of joy - but we definitely do not see our business as a game. Rather like a whole science.
The story surrounding our products is always based on the joy and community they create, but for almost 75 years we have also been able to state that play and learning go hand in hand. Which means that the products also function as almost unbeatable educational tools. At its core, there is always a focus on technical advantages, safety, high quality and unique design. All materials are chosen with great care, while the manufacturing process is carefully thought out. Everything from a clear sustainability perspective. A good example of this is the UniPlay play system, which was developed in the 1980s in solid materials such as recyclable pine and durable steel. It's about longevity - HAGS has given children, young people and adults all over the world the opportunity for play, activity and joy since 1948. We promise we will continue…
HAGS acquires SMC
The development of play
In post-war Sweden, the economy is growing like never before and the demand for Swedish goods is very high. During this time, there were large children's camps where, in the late 50s, they discussed and later decided to build a million new homes for families in Sweden (the Million Programme). The situation was that many families, especially in cities, lived in sanitary conditions that could no longer be considered acceptable. With this gigantic construction project, there was also a need to create good outdoor environments with elements of play and recreation. Already in the early 1950s, the question had also been put to HAGS if they could not imagine manufacturing swings and slides. Manufacturer Rune Gustavsson realized early on that this could be a good complement to the products that already existed. No one could have guessed that this would then cover such a large part of manufacturing, as it did in the 60s and 70s. To begin with, all play functions were manufactured in the form of solitaires such as swings, smaller climbing games, see-saw games, carousels, slides and slide towers.
HAGS Play Systems
UniPlay play system for older children (Småland + Storland = Playland)
The UniPlay play system has been on the market for more than 30 years. The UniPlay systems are a flexible system that can be built and adapted based on customers' wishes regarding colors, shape, size and possible themes. During the mid-80s, large facilities were built for customers where the concept was Summerland. HAGS was the manufacturer that had the know-how and capacity to supply these large plants. The Gulliver* scaffolding in Stavanger, Tanumshede Sommarland, Tostared Sommarland, Skara Sommarland, Kabe Sommarland, Lycksele zoo, Parken Zoo Eskilstuna, Furuviksparken Gävle to name a few. In the mid-80s, HAGS developed Tube Slides as a complement to the open slide. Now it became possible to build higher and longer slides. Before, you were limited to max. 3.0m for all open slides.
UniMini play system for smaller children
The UniMini play systems were launched at the end of 1992. Since UniPlay was a flexible system, it was realized that you could perhaps use components from UniPlay if you started from a slightly smaller module size. They worked on adapting the posts so that they fit the slightly smaller modular components. However, HAGS had to change the name to UniMini because Mini-Play was already being used by another manufacturer. Several components in UniMini and UniPlay are compatible in such a way that these can be mounted in both play systems with certain adaptations.
In the early 2000s, HAGS developed the Agito mobile play system. HAGS Agito is unique in its kind; with play features that move, are compliant and offer resistance. Thus it imitates nature itself. Based on the natural movement pattern, we developed a system that contributed to developing strength, fitness and coordination. HAGS Agito is developed to support the human's natural movement pattern and give maximum benefit from the movement carried out. Legs, pelvis and arms move in much the same way as when dancing! But our young people are blissfully unaware of that. They are busy with other things.
All HAGS building systems until the beginning of the 2000s always or almost always consisted of floors, posts and screens. Now there was a demand for other types of play equipment based on the theme of climbing. Admittedly, in both play systems, you could build combinations with posts, round beams and net structures. Now HAGS also wants to launch its own climbing system. This came to be known as Agito. Sven-Åke Sjöstam got the idea for Agito during a sailing trip. The way sailing makes you use and move your whole body was particularly interesting and he wanted to imitate this as much as possible.
At an early stage, HAGS management understood the importance of collaborating with designers, designers and architects from outside. A new way of thinking was brought in that included color and shape. The shapes became a little softer where you now e.g. bent the steel tubes instead of just having parts cut and welded together. Björn Alskog, Birger Ståhl and Ola Lindstrand have left an early mark on HAGS's production. HAGS were also early adopters of wooden products, which became a type of "software" of the time. Björn Alskog was also the one who developed the first building system, this was named Poly Play. Later, the name was changed to Lill Poly Play, where later a larger variant was also created, a Stor-Poly Play, which had to take over the name Poly Play. Now the wooden products had become a large part of the range. Architect Jan Wickelgren, who was previously associated with the company with the design of the play and park assortment, is now tasked with designing another play system, which came to be called Stugby. This became a type of "building blocks" of 1.40m that could be connected in different constellations. Jan Wickelgren has been loyal to the company and is still involved in the redesign of the park range. Bo Qvennerstedt and Torulf Löfstedt were two young men who in the 70s were given free rein to develop a completely new and flexible building system. This came to be called Småland and received a module measurement of 1.0m. This was something completely new for HAGS, but also for the entire industry, as you could basically offer the customer what they wanted. Bo and Torulf later formed the joint company ABBOT, which came to cooperate with HAGS for many years to come. The basic structure consisted of poles, floors and screens where various play functions such as slides, fire brigade poles, climbing nets and climbing ladders were connected, etc.
During the early 1950s, it was also realized that municipalities needed park furniture such as sofas, benches, tables but also trash cans. For the new residential areas that were built, it was also realized that whip racks in various variants were needed, as it was forbidden to e.g. whip their carpets from the balconies. During the 1980s, a comprehensive attempt was made to systematize the furniture range, where customers could select a seating part which was then ordered in several different lower parts. You could get the sofa free-standing steel legs for above-ground placement or casting. The seat parts could also be mounted on large concrete foundations. The park range such as Aveny and City-Form was designed with the starting point of having a uniform range of benches, tables, sofas, wastebaskets where you could also assemble units in different combinations. The park assortment has provided a large share of HAGS's sales on the Swedish market. In recent years, a new review has been made regarding the furniture range, where new architects have been hired. Here, both products and launch have been given a completely new HAGS face that is more architectural than its predecessors.
HAGS take play seriously
A slogan coined early on at the company was "HAGS takes play seriously". This slogan included both the importance of offering play with a high degree of safety awareness. In the mid-70s, the German standard for playground equipment, DIN-7926, was published regarding public environments. In 1977, HAGS hired TÜV Rheinland in Cologne, which came for a factory inspection and certified all HAGS play equipment. From now on, HAGS could meet the market with information about the safety of the play products because a third-party test was carried out. For HAGS, the sales process became more credible and the certificates showed that the products were tested and approved according to a valid standard. This was a completely new selling point that today is taken for granted. Throughout the years, HAGS has continued the collaboration with TÜV, however, the test institute was changed in the 90s to TÜV SÜD in Hamburg.
In 1977, HAGS published the magazine LEKA. The purpose of the magazine was to raise issues regarding safe outdoor environments and to start a debate regarding good and safe outdoor environments for children. Representatives of the Children's Environment Council, the Tenants' National Association, IPA (International Playground Equipment Association), the National Board of Health and Welfare wrote articles in this magazine, where HAGS also took the opportunity to talk about new products that were developed.
Children's development and children's safety have always been in focus in the development of new products. Right from the beginning of the company, there was the guiding quote - Take the game seriously! This set the tone for the company, its development and its products. Products developed over the years were made with children's needs for quality, function and safety in focus.
During the early 80s, thoughts were raised that Sweden should have its own national standard. Interest turned out to be lukewarm from the authorities. But HAGS, through the then CEO Sven-Åke Sjöstam, got several organizations interested in the project. The Association of Swedish Educational Materials Producers undertook to run the secretariat and the chairmanship ended up with Byggstandardiseringen. With this, work on the Swedish Standard for Play Equipment could begin. Once the work started, after all, i.a. The Swedish Consumer Agency, the Association of Municipalities and the Children's Environment Council be involved. The Swedish standard was completed and published in 1989 and was named, Swedish Standard for Play Equipment, SS 99 10 10-17. The year before, work on a European standard had begun and now people in Europe wondered why Sweden did not show interest in joining. This was at the time when the EU was called the EC and Sweden did not belong to this internal market. However, this did not apply to the standard work where Sweden was a full member. Thus, Sweden registered its interest in being involved, and HAGS has also been involved since then. The new common standard for Europe was published in 1998, when the old Swedish standard was withdrawn.
In the early 1980s, HAGS also developed a collaboration with Halmstad College / University which led to courses being offered to preschool teachers in child development and safe play. The course included lectures regarding the European safety standard, BRIS and play, ability to assess risks, documentation. Because Halmstad University, with an employed researcher in the area, participated and was able to verify the completed course, issue a grade of 5 higher education credits. Now competence began to spread in the schools and the staff began to make demands on play areas and their surfaces. Today this is probably obvious. HAGS's knowledge and experience helped and showed the way in developing the standard that is in force today.
We are sure of play!
For over 70 years, we at HAGS have had the pleasure of working with play in all its forms. Besides being crazy fun, it has given us invaluable knowledge on how to make playground equipment and create appreciated playgrounds. Safety considerations and continuous maintenance work have been an important component throughout the journey. Today, we actually dare to claim that we are experts in the field. During the HAGS Academy, we have created a platform for our collective knowledge and solid experience. Here we offer various courses focusing on safety, operation and maintenance of playgrounds. The purpose is to educate and inspire, but at least as important is to constantly make sure to educate ourselves. In this way, we can together create safe and well-maintained outdoor environments for play, exercise and recreation.
A playground should contain challenges but not dangers. It should be safe but not boring.
75 sustainable years is just the beginning
For us at HAGS, sustainability is about background as well as future. We have a full 75 years behind us and we dare to say that throughout the journey we have had a genuine concern for both the environment and people. Although the concept of "sustainability" was not talked about as much at the time. We have our operations in Aneby, close to nature, in the middle of the Småland forests. A good place because we love the outdoors and want to help ensure that our children, grandchildren and their children can live and play in a healthy environment. As a company, we have a responsibility to ensure that our operations are sustainable both in terms of economic, social and ecological issues. Our brand promise "inspiring all generations" contains a large dose of care, but also a stance from a sustainability perspective. In the work to create active and sustainable outdoor environments, our goal is to manufacture and deliver products in a way that is as gentle and sensible as possible. For both people and the environment in the entire chain. We have come a long way in our first 75 years, but we want to constantly get better and continue to develop to strengthen sustainability in and from our business. Our planet demands that we take action - together.
HAGS Logo through the years