Thule is pronounced "too-lee". In 1942, Thule was founded by the Thulin family, when Erik Thulin, a true lover of the outdoors, put the Thule name on a Pike Trap that he designed and began selling to the fisherman of Scandinavia. It wasn’t long before he added other practical things to his company’s portfolio. Business boomed, gaining profitably year after year.
Thule is a premium brand used globally for a wide assortment of products with a focus on solving the problem of how to bring equipment with you when using a car (roof racks, bike and water sport carriers, roof boxes). There are also other product areas such as accessories for recreational vehicles, trailers for active life (horses, boats, etc), snow chains and luggage.
By the 1960s, the company began to concentrate its business on car-related products, and before long the first roof rack was born. New product categories were added in the ‘70s and new markets were opened worldwide (e.g. US, Japan).
The Thulin family sold Thule to the publicly listed company Eldon in 1979. It continued to grow both organically and through acquisitions (trailers and rooftop box manufacturing), and Thule has been in growth mode ever since. New markets have been opened, product categories have been launched and several companies have joined.
In 2004, the Thule Group acquired Italian snow chain manufacturer König. An ensuing close collaboration resulted in a series of Thule branded snow chains for passenger cars. A year later, in 2005, RV Accessories company Omnistor was added to the Thule Group portfolio and integrated with Thule.
By acquiring towing systems company Brink in 2006, Thule Group added yet another product range to its portfolio. This integration has resulted in a series of towbars and bike carrier solutions.
Since 2007, Case Logic has been part of Thule Group. As a consequence of the collaboration between Thule and business area Carry Solutions, a range of Thule branded luggage, bags and cases was launched in 2010.
Strong Ties to North America
The Thule Group has approximately 3100 employees at over 50 production and sales locations all over the world. Net sales for 2010 amounted to 5.7 Bio SEK. The Thule Group headquarters is based in Malmö, Sweden. Of the 3100 employees, over 1000 are located in North American including Thule's Seymour Connecticut manufacturing facility, Perry, Florida, Centennial, Colorado and Franklin, Illinois. Additionally, many others outside of Thule's employment benefit from Thule's inventment in North American. An ecosystem of suppliers provides more jobs to Americans; packaging, raw materials, housing, ect.
1942 – Metallfabriken Thule founded
1944 – Belt buckles become a major product for Thule
1955 – First car product: headlamp grilles
1962 – First product for car roofs: ski carrier
1973 – Luxus – the first lockable ski carrier in Europe 1977 – First roof box is named TB-11 (accessory 11)
1980-81 – Expansion into U.S. market
1984 – Launch of second roof box, Thule Combibox 250 – the world’s first blow-moulded roof box
1991 – German roof box manufacturer Jetbag acquired – first step towards becoming the world’s biggest manufacturer of roof boxes
1992 – Launch of first towbar-mounted bike carrier
1997 – Thule purchases American roof box manufacturer Karrite and becomes world’s largest producer of roof boxes
2002 – Launch of Hull-a-Port kayak carrier, which becomes Thule’s most sold product in the U.S.
2004 – Purchase of Sportworks (bike carriers) and König (snow chains)
2005-2006 - Thule buys Star Trailer (horse trailers), Omnistor awnings and accessories), Brink and Valley (towbars), Sportrack (racks) and Case Logic (bags and storage)
2006 – First concept store opens in Berlin
2008 – Launch of K-Summit, the World's easiest to fit snow chain
2009 – New global website launched
2010 – New consumer-oriented strategy, new global store concept
2010 – Line of Thule Crossover bags introduced