How it all started
The year was 1991 when Tord Mattsson started his business and founded TVM Divelop. TVM are his initials, Tord Valentin Mattsson and Divelop comes from “develop” and the company name is pronounced the same way. The fact that the first “e” is replaced with an “i” was a playful detail to suggest the field of commerce.
Before Tord came to the conclusion that he wanted to try his luck on his own, he was in the midst of a successful career as a technician at the Swedish company Volvo. His free time was all about designing motorcycles which he also enjoyed riding, and he did - violently. He crashed and was badly injured and it was during his time of convalescence that his dream of starting his own business finally took shape. But it would not evolve around motorbikes but rather scuba-diving which had caught his interest during these early days when PADI was new in Sweden. He took up diving and after some time also signed up for an Open Water course, led by the first ever Swedish PADI Course Director.
Starting up the business
There were some lean years in the beginning, starting literally with two empty hands, having to buy expensive equipment such as tools and machinery and at the same time promote the business. But the number of customers grew and in time ranged from private divers to Swedish official authorities such as the Swedish police and military forces. He did both repairs, mainly on drysuits, and produced various products sought after. It could be everything from a simple carrying handle for cylinders or high pressure filling equipment, to a custom made underwater camera housing system or work lights.
His knowledge and skill became known and the first “flagship” came to be his own design of a robust underwater light (halogen) which once and for all placed him as one of, if not, the best technician/developer on the Swedish market. This superior series of lights was referred to as, simply, the “Tordan-light”. Still today when many have chosen the HID- and LED-techniques, he gets calls from professional divers with 15 years old work lights being used daily, sometimes during rough conditions, lights which only need some fresh components and spare parts. That is truly a mark of a quality product.
100% increase of staff
After six years (-97), I came to work for Tord. My name is Ingrid Sernelin and I ran in to Tord at a dive center where I was working one summer. We sat down over a cup of coffee one afternoon and he told me about his work which I found to be intriguing. I ended up, after much persuasion from my side, as an apprentice in his workshop. It took me 18 months of apprenticeship before Tord gave his approval of my repair work on suits. You could say I stirred a lot of glue.
Now I started working for real, full time with salary. My major responsibility was the repairs of drysuits and soon we handled about 500 suits a year. As I grew more independent, business-phase two was launched, the AGIR-line of products.
Creating the AGIR-line
Tord designed the first of many items, the 3 mm backplate in stainless steel and it was an immediate success in our dive club! The club held about 300 members of which at least 20 used this kind of equipment. Response was positive and continued to be so when the backplate was followed by the Habrok-wing (50-pounder). I do not dare to count the number of hours and the endless diving that went into that construction. The pattern to that wing, which today is produced in two sizes (56- and the 38-pounder), was and probably still is unique (come the day when copies might turn up). We set out to create a wing with better balance than the existing ones and judging from sales, we made a hit. Several items assisted this winning line such as steel twinningbands which generated our first big order from a foreign distributor. This was some years ago. From this point on, business has steadily grown and we´ve had to abandon suit repairs in favour of our brand. From having been an experimental workshop with mainly diving friends buying the AGIR-line, we are today hiring subcontractors to be able to secure delivery. Today we have not only kept our old customers but also found new ones, a lot of them, and from every corner of the world.
We both believe that this success is due to our philosophy (forgetting all the hard work for a moment). We want to improve our own equipment, that’s the driving force and it results in diving equipment kept clean, simple, robust and safe. Our customers are still mainly those diving technically but we keep to our mission to introduce this highly comfortable equipment to divers on all levels. We keep repeating that You don´t have to dive technically with AGIR-products but You can, if You choose to. In other words, it´s not the equipment that makes the diving technical but rather the diver and his or her profile.
The first response to the products at the very beginning, together with the fact that Tord constantly worked in a very customer-oriented way, have had a great impact on how we relate to our customers today. We have close contact with many of our distributors and retailers and willing private diving friends who contribute with invaluable information, mostly feedback on the AGIR equipment. We are truly grateful for this knowledge and use it in developing our products. Producing relatively small series, we can easily tune details and refine performance, thereby reflecting customer needs in an effective way.
Continuing the journey
Experience tells us that those who have chosen a backplate, never return to a jacket-vest. Both of us started out with jacket-vests and education together with curiosity led us both to adopt the backplate and harness in combination with double cylinders of different sizes. We both went on to trimix diving and subsequently the AGIR-line holds also eg, argon equipment. The range of products are still growing, one of the latest being the LUGH-light with which Tords unique design is introduced as both an HID-model and an LED. This brings us back to his first real success and pausing here for a minute makes us realize that we have come a long way in a short time. We are now exporting over 60 % of our products and the journey continues. We have a very exciting time ahead of us and hope we´ll gain new contacts. Perhaps you want to join us on this journey and divelop?
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