History of SEAS
Table of Contents
- Early years (1948-1951)
- SEAS Fabrikker, Værftsgate 10, Moss
- Klondike / Gold Rush period (1969-1974)
- The decline (1975-1977)
- The battle (1978-1982)
- New start (1982-today)
1948: The owner of Radionette, Jan Wessel had decided to start making loudspeaker units for his own production of Radionette radio sets. It is said that Wessel was envied Tandberg for making their own drivers. C.C. Nørgaard Madsen was employed as a designer to do this. He came right off Aarhus Engineering School. C.C. Nørgaard Madsen is the son of the founder of Videbæk Højttalerfabrik, later Vifa.
With his background, Nørgaard Madsen must have been an ideal match for Radionette's founder, Jan Wessel, to realize his vision of making transducers for Radionette's radio production. C.C. Nørgaard Madsen found the job by responding to a job advertisement in a newspaper.
C.C. Nørgaard Madsen was hired to and started working as loudspeaker expert for Radionette on 1. August 1948, located in Filipstad, Oslo. The facilities at Filipstad was rented from Banan-Mathiessen, where the amplifier department of Radionette was also located and some of the correspondence was addressed to Bananmodneriet, Filipstadvei 1, Oslo. Judging from the name, Banan-Mathiessen was an importer of bananas.
As SEAS is starting, we can see that Radionette is also supplied some loudspeakers from DNH, Den Norske Højttalerfabrikk A/S, located in Huitsfeldtsgate 3, Oslo, and that there's a contract between the parties for delivery of 50.000 speaker units (February 1949). DNH production is located in Kragerö. Early supplies are rejected in Radionette IQC and we can see that they have the capability to measure frequency response (a bit advanced for the time period, and maybe such requirements also come as a surprise to DNH). Radionette is also attempting to source finished speakers from Goodmans in the UK as well as requesting prices from Peerless in Denmark. Since these were not purchased in larger quantities, maybe SEAS was simply investigating the competition (through Radionette).
Skandinavisk Elektronikk A/S is a company that was founded in 1947. I believe it was founded by Godtfred Heesch and Jan Wessel to take care of import. Heesch is initially the only employee and continues throughout the lifetime of the company (into the 1970s) as Managing Director.
Early correspondence from August and the fall of 1948 shows that C.C. Nørgaard Madsen communicated with various suppliers to establish equipment for loudspeaker production, for example, some drying, vacuum and impregnation equipment from A. L. Andersen Ingeniørfirma in Copenhagen, Denmark. The process of purchasing equipment and establishing transformer and loudspeaker production continues for about a year or so. In parallel the production is ongoing and C.C. Nørgaard Madsen is purchasing parts, for example, loudspeaker cones from R. O. Bridger and Co. Ltd. in London, UK. There's an entire ring binder of correspondence from the time period of 1948-1949. Wilhelm Rosenvinge Jernvarefabrik (Moss) is the supplier of baskets, and later when SEAS moves to Moss, they rent the factory space from this supplier.
This is a time period where C.C. Nørgaard Madsen signs some papers that are from Radionette and other papers are from Skandinavisk Elektronikk A/S. He seems to be actively working within both companies.
Another interesting observation during the startup phase is that Radionette is sourcing spiders (suspension parts) from Videbæk Højttalerfabrik. All other parts are sourced elsewhere, but this part must be particularly difficult to source and/or produce in-house. The communication between Nørgaard Madsen and his family in Denmark is very positive, kind and helpful.
1950: Wessel and Madsen decided to separate the loudspeaker and radio business in order to be able to sell loudspeakers to other radio manufacturers in Norway and abroad. They partnered with Skandinavisk Elektronikk A/S, a production and import company run by Godtfred Heesch, but owned by Jan Wessel. The SEAS brand is short for Skandinavisk Elektronikk A/S.
1951: The company moved to Moss, Værftsgate 10 located on Jeløya at the harbor, where they rent the facilities from Christiania Staal- og Jernvarefabrik (Wilhelm Rosenvinge). This move was maybe caused by rumors that Tandberg was planning to make such a move and SEAS wanted to be close to a potential customer like Tandberg. Well, Tandberg never moved from its location in Oslo. In practice Tandberg and Wessel were competitors (fiercely, but with mutual respect) and there was never any business between Wessel/SEAS and Tandberg
In the new facilities, it doesn't take long before the company is hit by a strike from the employees, according to Moss Arbeiderblad 1951-09-28. At the core of the problem is a dispute with Engineer Madsen (CC Nørgaard Madsen). The strike is illegal but continues through the month of October. Presumably the dispute started with a young man becoming sick from working in the paint booth and he was not offered a different job, nor proper protection.
Internal note dated 1. February 1955, due to significant growth and additional personell, clarifies the following organization at Skandinavisk Elektronikk A/S, department in Moss:
- Responsible daily manager, technical and sales: Engineer C. C. Nørgaard Madsen
- Design, calculations, control, efficiency: Factory Manager Harald Jensen
- Daily work management, mechanical department: Foreman Henry Holbrå
- Daily work management, assembly line: Foreman Ole Alfredsen
- Sales and sales backup, journaling, contact to Oslo warehouse: Representative Rolf Kristiansen
- Salary, statistics (incl. taxes and health org, keeping employee directory and arciving): Secretary G. Werness
- Warehouse Moss, incoming goods, sub assemblies and finished goods, external and internal transport: Warehouse Manager G. Wiersholm
As a side-note, one of the fellow students of Nørgaard Madsen, a guy named Mogens Hvass, is later (mid-50ties) hired to start working for Nørgaard Madsen at SEAS in Norway.
1956: Skandinavisk Elektro-Akustisk Selskap (English: Scandinavian Electro-Acoustic Company), or SEAS, was formed as a limited company with two shareholders, J. Wessel and C.C. Nørgaard Madsen, each owning 50%. Heesch decided to focus more on his electronics business. The name SEAS was kept unchanged, now an acronym for Skandinavisk Elektro-Akustisk Selskap. When explaining the SEAS acronym in English, it is often said to mean Scandinavian Electro Acoustic Systems. Translating "Selskap" into "Systems" instead of "Company" is a loose translation, which is used in English context today and fixes the acronym.
At this point, SEAS have become a larger business than the other activities by Wessel (i.e. the Radionette radio factory), according to C.C. Nørgaard Madsen. This still seems a bit surprising, since Radionette was very successful in the 1950-1958 time period. Maybe C.C. is not thinking of the overall turnover, but e.g. the number of employees?
It is C.C. that came up with the idea to name the factory SEAS (utilizing the letters of the original name, Skandinavisk Elektronikk A/S). At the end of the 1950ties when Anne-Lill started working at SEAS, everybody called it SEAS and SEAS was the logo on the products.
A contract between Skandinavisk Elektronikk A/S (Skandelektro) and SEAS Fabrikker A/S is dated 1. January 1957, by which all loudspeaker related activities is handed over from Skandelektro to SEAS. At the same time Skandelektro is hired as sales channel in parallel with SEAS internal sales. The contract defined as a minium to run for as long as SEAS is in debt to Skandelektro.
Another contract also dated 1. January 1957 appoints Godtfred Heesch as General Manager for SEAS Fabrikker A/S. The job is unpaid, but for turnover not invoiced to Skandinavisk Elektronikk A/S, Heesch receives a commision of 0.75%.
A third contract dated 1. January 1957 appoints C.C. Nørgaard Madsen as Daily Manager (Norwegian: Disponent) in SEAS Fabrikker A/S. His salary (annual) is 24.000 kr. + 4.000 kr. for covering expenses + 1% commission of the turnover. The fixed part of 2000 kr/month is only about twice what a secretary is paid, so his payment is fairly humble. Like previously, an apartment is at his disposal. As something new, a company car is to be at his disposal. C.C. acquires a dark blue Vauxhall.
1957: In correspondence we can see that C.C. Nørgaard Madsen is coordinating some internal organizational changes, signifying the transformation to the new company SEAS Fabrikker A/S, dated 5. December 1956, as of 1. January 1957 the responsibilities in the organization is:
- C. C. Nørgaard Madsen - Responsible Daily Manager
- Mogens Hvass - Laboratory Engineer
- Harald Jensen - Factory Manager (daily management in the factory)
- Arne Roer - Accountant (daily management at the office)
- Bernt Svenson - Warehouse Manager
Godtfred Heesch is supposed to sign these papers and he adds to the end of the document (I translate into English): "Please do not take this as sour criticism, but it would be nice for me if you could please remember that the company also has a General Manager." He then signs the papers and accepts the changes, dated 16. January 1957. Clearly C.C. is doing the daily management and Heesch feels that he is left out of the loop, at least when it comes to transformers and loudspeakers, manufactured in Moss.
Heesch, who by the way is initially from Kristiansand, and who is general manager at Skandinavisk Elektronikk A/S, is facing increasing pressure from Wessel to supply parts for Radionette, at very low prices, below what even the best of other customers are paying, and at prices that would mean he is selling with little profitability. A document from 8. January 1957 shows that Skandinavisk Elektronikk A/S (often simply named Skandelektro or Skandel in internal communication) is suggesting to sell speakers from SEAS Fabrikker A/S to Radionette, as a sales channel, priced 5-6% below what distributors are paying. In another letter, dated 12. Februrary 1958, Heesch shows that he has a material cost of 84% to his sales prices, which cannot cover his expenses and that throughout 1957, across all sales (local and export) his company has lost 35.331 kr. doing business with SEAS loudspeakers.
Through the 1950s, negotiations between Heesch, Nørgaard Madsen and Wessel about splitting Skandinavisk Elektronikk A/S and separating the loudspeaker business is ongoing. Eventually, in 1960, the split became a reality and Heesch continued his business from Ebbellsgate in Oslo, selling Garrard turntables and Sylvania vacuum tubes, which Wessel continued to use in Radionette products throughout the 1960s.
The company facilities at Verftsgate 10, Jeløya, developed over time, and the space was shared with TrioVing and the Ving Ice Skate Manufacturer. The facilities appeared quite cluttered and twisty, in spite of renovations.
Interestingly we see in a correspondence from Dr. Kurt Müller (DKM) in Germany to Heesch, Skandinavisk Elektronikk A/S (Filipstad, Oslo), that this supplier is raising a flag, because DNH (Den Norske Højttalerfabrik) is actively selling in Germany and DKM wish to help SEAS in selling more into this market. The letter is dated 22. January 1957.1959: Anne-Lill is hired to SEAS, later to become the wife of C.C. (1962).
In 1959 in the local newspaper, Moss Avis, 24. October, an article describes how Christiania Staal- og Jernvarefabrik (Wilhelm Rosenvinge is the owner) is planning to sell their buildings in Verftsgate 10a to SEAS (currently renting the space) and instead move to Høyden. This is so that SEAS can plan expansion of the production.
Mogens Hvass had his laboratory on 1st floor in Værftsgate 10. Not many came there, except for C.C. Anne-Lill might have been there once or twice, to deliver papers. He was a very normal person, nice and polite. When Anne-Lill started at SEAS, C.C. and Hvass had an anechoic room behind the office of C.C. One would take the stairs one floor up. The entire room was covered in egg crates, for sound proofing. They had some instruments in there and did their measurements here.
In January - March 1960, architect Albrekt Eika is sketching the renovation of Værftsgate 10. The total is estimated to 420.000 kr. Presumably the facilities were purchased, and the deal finalized, at the end of 1959.
Anne-Lill remembers that she worked at SEAS when Værftsgate 10 was purchased and that she wore a white coat to protect her clothes while the place was being renovated, amongst other the secretary office, and C.C.s new and large office, where a glass exhibition was made for showing some of the special loudspeakers.
When SEAS acquired Værftsgate 10, the facilities of the Ving Shoe Factory is located here, as well as the Ving "Langrennsskøyter" (Long Run Skates / Nordic Skates) and the brother of Wilhelm ran this part of the business (Christian). The shoe factory moved to Høyden (now Rosenvinge Park). Another company which was also renting space in Værftsgate 10 was Nordisk Metallaksjeselskap (Nordic Metal Stock Company), which were located on the back side of the building. They also moved so that SEAS could take over the entire building.
Anne-Lill remember how the back side of the factory was closed off from the street, Øisteins gate, with a tall net fence with a couple of gates that were always closed. The drive to the warehouse became cumbersome, because the warehouse was located at the back side of the factory, where Nordisk Metall had been located. C.C. could not in his wildest imagination understand why the public street was closed off like this, so he went to the city hall and was informed it was B.B. (publicly named Brynildsen) who had the street closed off. Brynilsen was a rich man in town, the owner of a cement factory, and the owner of the parcel on the other side of Øisteins gate, where he stored various products, and also had his Villa located across from there, on Harald Haarfagres gate. Nobody had dared to protest, but C.C. succeeded to have the street reopened, such that traffic could drive from Øisteins gate to the warehouse, which was much simpler. Besides C.C. organized a renovation of the buildings and changed it a lot, so that it became more practical and much nicer.
1960: Godtfred Heesch sends his official resignation and retires as General Manager from SEAS Fabrikker A/S. The direct reason from Heesch is the transfer of stocks, which has happened on the same day, 28. March 1960, with three months notice, the official resignation day is 30. June 1960. Jan Wessel steps in as new General Manager.
In practice Wessel is not so involved in the transducer business. It is essentially run by Nørgaard Madsen and he was maybe not so impressed by Wessel, who rarely attended at meetings and was focused on keeping costs down, as Nørgaard Madsen would put it, mostly interested in the consumption of pencils and erasers.
The same year, 1960, SEAS manufactures its speaker unit number one million. The driver is mounted on a plaque, for display.
At this point in time, Jan Wessel also has a Norwegian manufacturing company to Radionette, named Radio Visjon A/S (Oslo), as well as a danish sister company named Radio Vision Fabrik A/S (Lyngby).
Wessel and Nørgaard Madsen bought Videbæk højttalerfabrik in 1960 from Nørgaard Madsens father. At the same time, the danish Radio Vision department in Copenhagen had to be closed. Wessel asks Nørgaard Madsen if there's anybody in the staff that he can use. Nørgaard Madsen answers "What about Magnus Madsen." Wessel says "Do you dare to?" - which he does. Nørgaard Madsen hired Magnus Nesdam-Madsen as production manager for the Danish site.
In Radiobransjen (1975), information is provided that around 1960 there are about 17 employees in Denmark and 40 employees in Norway.
An official legal document dated 22. June 1961 hands over the stocks of Videbæk Højttalerfabrik (asset value of 97.500 kr) from N.C. Madsen and his wife (Mie Madsen) to their son C.C. Nørgaard Madsen and Jan Wessel. The products from Videbæk were named Hroswitha. Anne-Lill experienced Mie as a very remarkable woman, one of the best people she has ever met.
In 1961 a Danish trading company named Skandinavisk Elektroakustik AS is founded and Anne-Lill remember that C.C. was sitting at the dining room table in Camilla Colletts gate, trying to find a suitable name, which would re-create the same acronym (SEAS) as the parent company in Norway. The sales office is located in Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark in red brick buildings, which is the same location where Radio Vision had been located. C.C. hired a Swedish office lady named Ms. Aaström, who apparently slept on a sofa in the office, which Anne-Lill remembers later was transported to their house in Fjordveien.
Skandinavisk Elektroakustik A/S emerges, as a Danish company for activities in Denmark, seated Lundtoftevej 1, Lyngby. Notice the similarity in the name to Skandinavisk Elektronikk A/S, but the name is different, ending in -akustik, yet could also in principle utilize the SEAS acronym. From correspondence with lawfirm of Bent Nebelong it seems that first it was suggested to name also the danish subsidiary SEAS Fabrikker A/S, but naming conflict with Sydsjællandske Elektricitets Aktieselskab prevented this, but later this created a name dispute with SEAS in Denmark, Sydsjællands Elektricitets Aktieselskab (Sealands Electrical Company), anyway. Correspondence from Nørgaard Madsen to Wessel, dated 15. june 1960, indicates that this was a smaller company for assembling cabinets. Skandinavisk Elektroakustik A/S is also a small shareholder in Videbæk Højttalerfabrik.
Anne-Lill as a secretary for C.C. is involved in all aspects of the management of the company and she knows basically everything that goes on in the company on a high level, also after she stops working there on 31. January 1962.
In a letter dated 14. april 1961, C.C. Nørgaard Madsen writes to Jan Wessel that his three companies in total are out 636.000 kr. (a very significant amount of money) and that another 294.000 kr. is invoiced with additional 60 days credit. I suppose C.C. would like Wessel to pay.
Magnus Nesdam-Madsen moved from Copenhagen to Videbæk, 1961.
In December 1961, a protocol from the management meeting reveals that Jan Wessel and C.C. Nørgaard Madsen each sell their majority of shares in Videbæk Højttalerfabrik worth a total of 96.000 kr. to SEAS Fabrikker A/S. Each 1.000 kr. stock is sold for 6.000 kr. This definitively completes the process that makes SEAS Fabrikker the owner of Videbæk Højttalerfabrik. Wessel and Nørgaard Madsen each keep a share of about 500 kr. so that the requirement for three stockholders is met.
January 1962 there is a formal Annual General Meeting related to Videbæk Højttalerfabrik, which includes C. C. Nørgaard Madsen. The external accounting, which used to be Jens Pedersen & Co. in Herning is transferred to Jørgen Larsen (Copenhagen). This seems to be the final phase of transferring and reorganizing ownership of Videbæk Højttalerfabrik.
Anne-Lill and C.C. are married on 13. May 1962.
Correspondence between C.C. and engineer Siebke at Tandberg, shows that SEAS attempted to sell some speakers to Tandberg at this point (1962).
From correspondence it seems the contact had been ongoing since 1962 between Nørgaard Madsen and Ragnar Lian, who is at this point with address Aldershvilevej 109, Bagsværd (part of Copenhagen). Later Nørgaard Madsen sends speaker units to the highly interested Ragnar Lian, and Nørgaard Madsen continuously keeps up the dialog to reel in this engineer. In 1963 Ragnar Lian started working for SEAS. He starts with transformers and advances to classical SEAS speakers. As High-Fidelity starts in the time period of 1965-66, Lian remembers this as a fun period, where creativity is allowed, then it was allowed to step outside the beaten path. Lian became the main responsible for a 25 cm woofer with a rubber surround, named the 25 TV-EW, and later a 1,5" dome tweeter, the H087 tweeter, which was revolutionary at the time for applying a dome shaped soft cloth material and for using aluminium wire voice coil.
The SEAS name is also used by a powerplant in Denmark (Sydøstsjællands Elektricitets Aktieselskab, established in 1912) and as they ask for the rights to the brand name (in Denmark) throughout many categories in 1963, including electrical and electronic devices, SEAS faces a lawsuit for using the same name. The conflict is settled in court 10 years later.
In 1967 the turnover is 5.613.000 kr. In 1967 SEAS invested in a 180 ton press, which I believe is still in use today.
Accounting shows that Ole Skoge is involved as an external accountant to SEAS Fabrikker from 1967 and onwards. He was hired to work at SEAS as daily manager from 1. October 1973 and continued until 31. August 1977. He was a member of the Freemasons in Sarpsborg.
1968: One of the very first soft dome tweeters was designed by Ragnar Lian and introduced to the world market, the H87 (later named H087). It was in production until 1981 and sold through this period of time more than 1.5 mio. units.
The textile dome was invented in the USA, by several people in parallel (or almost simulateously). Today I believe Bill (William) Hecht (1923-2012) is honoured as the first and true inventor. He holds the US patent 3,328,537 on this, filed January 1964 and granted in 1967.
The other contender to be the inventor of the soft dome would be Edgar M. Villchur, US patent 3,033,945, filed May 1959 and granted in 1962, but the patent does not discuss the benefits of a soft non-ridig dome. Hecht carefully describes the non-ridig behaviour of the textile dome in his invention.
Editors note: I believe that the introduction of the soft dome is what spun one of the most important new type of products in the history of loudspeakers. It took the loudspeaker industry by storm. It made Denmark (and Norway) the place to go, if you wanted excellent sounding speakers.
In 1968 the turnover at SEAS is 6.633.000 kr.
The following 5 years represents a "Klondike" (gold rush) period, where turnover increases roughly 10 mio. kr. annually.
1969: One of the worlds most successful loudspeakers, Dynaco A25 was designed by SEAS engineers. It was based on the 10" Hi-Fi woofer, the 25 TV-EW, and the 1 1/2 " textile soft dome tweeter, H087. During the lifetime, Dynaco A-25 sold more than a million units, hereof SEAS supplied between 700.000 and 900.000 of these to Dynaco.
The 1 1/2" textile dome was sold in variations in many other products, including systems by Bang & Olufsen.
1969 is also the year that Mogens Hvass is suddenly fired from SEAS, after working here about 15 years, and given only 5-15 minutes to clear his desk and leave the premises. We can only speculate, but presumably such actions are only taken if an employee is not loyal to the company he works for. I get the sense that Mogens Hvass transferred knowledge about the H087 tweeter to QSR (Ejvind Skaaning). Hvass is then hired by Skaaning and he moves back to Denmark (to Stilling, near Skanderborg). The theory is supported by QSR introducing the D3806 tweeter to the market in 1969, which essentially is a direct competitor to H087.
Correspondence with the law firm of Bent Nebelong shows that C.C. Nørgaard Madsen in May 1969 investigates how he officially can become the general manager of SEAS and asked lawyers for examples of such contracts. So far he has worked as "Disponent" (Eng.: Manager, in the sense of Daily Manager). According to management meetings of 1970, the General Manager is Jan Wessel and C.C. Nørgaard Madsen at the time continues as (Daily) Manager. In practice everybody at the factory considers C.C. as the general manager.
Per Rikard Frydenlund is hired 9. April 1969 as Deputy Manager (Norwegian: Soussjef) and continued until 31. July 1973. He came from Skandinavisk Elektronikk (run by Heesch). He had a military style. In his office, you would always find a totally clean desk, and the silhouette of a the man being visible against the window behind him and the blinds cover the window.
In 1969 the turnover was 11.748.00 kr., with an exceptional increase of +77% in sales over last year, primarily due to increased sales in Sweden and overseas. The Danish subsidiary experienced similar growth (and the numbers are kept separate). Furthermore the business is more profitable, due to focus on the new Hi-Fidelity line of products. Documents reveal that SEAS Fabrikker owns 96% of the stocks in Videbæk Højttalerfabrik. We can also see that SEAS in Moss manufactured 239.998 loudspeaker units and 70.176 transformers.
Jan Paus starts working at SEAS on 28. September 1970. He becomes laboratory manager in 1971.
SEAS has never been related to Scan-Speak directly, but their stories still meet in the early 70'ties. People at SEAS write that it was SEAS engineers, who developed the Dynaco A-25. At some point, probably after the design was finished, they were hired by Ejvind Skaaning. The engineers in question are Ragnar Lian and Mogens Hvass, according to SEAS senior engineer (retired 2010) Bjørn Børja.
In practice Dynaco had two suppliers of the A-25, SEAS and Scan-Speak. Who would be the primary supplier kept waving back and forth. As David Hafler became financially involved in Scan-Speak, this would seem to be a preference, at least for a short while.
1971: Videbæk højttalerfabrik was made a sister company to SEAS. It is during this period that Scan Dyna has trouble sourcing drivers for the Dynaco and Scan-Dyna A25 speakers.
In 1971, SEAS is the 141'th largest company in Norway, according to a book of the 1000 largest companies in Norway.
The 25th of September 1972, Norway votes no to join the European Union. Of the voting population, 53.5% voted no. (In 1994 a second vote ended the same way, 52.2% voted no). Internally at SEAS this spun a discussion whether SEAS should entirely relocate to Denmark. C.C. Nørgaard Madsen declines, but is not so strong in his statement (17. October 1972), so people at SEAS in Norway are concerned. Meetings are held with eleven employees at SEAS Norway, where Nørgaard Madsen ensures that SEAS is not moving from Norway, at least not unless the situation becomes difficult. Management meetings are held, where it is stated that ultimately this decision is not up to Nørgaard Madsen alone to decide. At the same time Frydenlund is attempting to picture himself as the person that rescues SEAS and the management board states that the relationship between Nørgaard Madsen and Frydenlund is now so stressed that he may lose his job. This meeting was on the 10. November 1972, at Hotel Royal, and the participants (i.e. management board) were:
- Jens Christian Hauge, Chairman (Supreme Court Attorney)
- C.C. Nørgaard Madsen (Daily Manager / Disponent)
- Ole Skoge (Authorized Public Accountant)
- Jørgen Larsen (State Authorized Public Accountant)
- Bent Nebelong (Supreme Court Attorney)
Just as a side note, Radionette ran into trouble in 1971 and was merged with Tandberg in 1972. Wessel received stocks in Tandberg worth 9 mio. kr. The primary business of Jan Wessel hereafter is SEAS Fabrikker A/S.
In 1972, SEAS is the 107'th largest company in Norway, according to a book of the 1000 largest companies in Norway. The turnover is registered as 42.285.000 kr. and hereof 25.900.000 kr. exported.
On 30. March 1973, a lawsuit against SEAS reaches a verdict, that SEAS can use the SEAS name in Denmark, without violation of the brand name belonging to a power plant named SEAS in Denmark (today named SEAS-NVE) and SEAS is set free, whereas the claimant is requested to pay SEAS 10.000 kr. in court cost.
According to the summary of an extraordinary management of the board meeting, The board decides to hire Jens Christian Hauge as chairman of the board on 11. May 1973.
Jens Christian Hauge was a member of the Freemasons. Hauge orchestrated the merge of Radionette with Tandberg 19. May 1972, after joining Radionette June 1971, which eventually led to the demise of both companies (and the suiside of Vebjørn Tandberg). I can see from correspondence, that Hauge (and Frydenlund) is involved in SEAS November 1972, Hauge as an external lawyer.
About Jens Christian Hauge: He is generally speaking not a good match with SEAS, and this becomes clear as history evolves. A short presentation should also include his successes. Hauges rise to fame was first and foremost because he was the leader of the Norwegian resistance, the Milorg group, during the war (WW2). Milorg is short for Military Organization. Right after the war, this group also ensured peace in the country and 15.000 people welcomed the king back to Norway on the 9. June 1945. Afterwards he was both Minister of Defence and later Minister of Justice. He has represented the government in various important privately managed companies, like Statoil, Kongsberg weapon factory, The National Theatre and in 1977 he was still the foreman in SAS (Scandinavian Airlines).
The not so impressive "achievements" of Hauge is that during the startup phase of the oil industry in Norway he did everything he could in his power to partner with Sweden and attempted to receive partnership in Volvo in return. This never happened and in light of where the oil industry went afterwards, it was clearly the best for Norway that Hauge failed.
The merge between Radionette and Tandberg, which was forced by Hauge, was also one of his failures, since the merger was undesired by both Wessel and Tandberg, and only a few years later Tandberg went into serious financial trouble, which ended with bankruptcy and Vebjørn Tandberg committing suicide. So, the merge of the two prominent brands didn't bring anything good.
This I point out only to underline, that even with the best of people, sometimes it doesn't bring anything good to hire these people to take care of business. In the context of SEAS, his failure to do anything good is underlined by a newspaper (Friheten, 11. August 1981) article by Kåre A. Nilsen, titled "Jens Chr. Hauge was a miserable chairman of the board".
On 1. August 1973, SEAS celebrates its Anniversary with a party at Refsnes Gods.
Early September 1973, SEAS displays at the Berlin show.
Ole Skoge was a state-authorized accountant in the company Revision AS. He was a completely different type than Frydenlund, Anne-Lill only knew him a bit from the time she worked at SEAS and from time to time he came by to revise the accounts. He had a personality that matched C.C. very well, and he was hired as Vice President of the company, and C.C. called in some of the employees, among them Jan Paus, to inform about the news. Anne-Lill has the impression that the employees take this as good news. Ole Skoge started working at SEAS on 1. October 1973 and continued until 31. August 1977. He lived in the apartment in Melløsbakken. For the premises, Anne-Lill purchased a very nice steel lamp.
In 1973, SEAS is the 108'th largest company in Norway, according to a book of the 1000 largest companies in Norway. The turnover is registered as 52.018.000 kr. and hereof 37.453.000 kr. exported. The increase in sales is 23% and hereof the vast majority stems from increased export.
In 1973 SEAS had about 400 employees in total, between the Danish and the Norwegian sites. The factory in Norway is limited by space and plan to build new facilities.
During 1973-1974 a conflict occurs because SDI (Scan-Dyna Industries, lead by Peter Hasselriis, situated in Switzerland) manufactures and sells products to Dynaco made by Scan-Speak (and with the QSR name involved). Correspondence and thoughts as SEAS documented in papers, show that SEAS attempted to resolve the conflict in an amicable way. SDI goes into a process of liquidation and money is lost into the hands of Peter Hasselriis, while SDI (lead by Mr. R. Lichtsteiner) supports and attempts to keep Hasselriis afloat.
C.C. Nørgård Madsen becomes more and more of an alcoholic. He would at 10 a.m. in the morning be served a bloody-mary. He is a humane and fundamentally kind person. Much of the daily management is handled by factory manager Frydenlund, who on the other hand has a military background and is quite a different personality.
1974: Engineer Tore Holmboe Wiik is hired on 1. January 1974 and continues to work at SEAS until 31. December 1980. Tore Holmboe Wiik was also educatd at NTH, finished December 1972, started working at the Institute for Acoustics (6 months), then at Sintef for additional 6 months during 1973. Tore Wiik worked extensively with bass reflex enclosures and experienced a phenomenon where the woofer cone rendered large and thus uncontrolled fluctuation below the Helmholtz resonance. He pinpointed a remedy in the form of short-circuiting rings placed on the bobbin at the coil ends. A simplified version received a longer coil where the outermost approximately 2 mm were shorted through a milling and soldering operation. He named the invention Dynamic Damping (DD), and SEAS received a patent for it in many countries (first in Norway, 1978). 21 and 25F WBX-DD were among the first speaker elements based on the patent. The US patent is 4.160.133. Tore Wiik also wrote an AES paper presented at the 56th Convention in Paris, March 1977, titled Transient Distortion Caused by Nonlinearities in Driving Force and Suspension of a Loudspeaker (this paper has since been quoted at least a dozen times).
Both companies experienced a major growth and in 1974 there were 250 employees in Norway and 200 in Denmark.
Late 1974 the new facilities to SEAS Fabrikker is opened. There's both new buildings in Norway (Ryggeveien 96) as well as new buildings in Denmark. The responsibility (in Norway) was in the hands of Bjørn Ulrichsen.
At the time these buildings in Rygge (Norway) were built, it was outside town in rural surroundings, but today it is totally surrounded by residential and industrial buildings.
The grand opening in December 1974 includes more than 300 people, and even Jan Wessel attended.
The design of the building was quite unusual for Norwegian standards at the time, somewhat inspired by Danish design. Norwegian standard means that one would classically just raise a boxy square concrete building. An architect is hired, but C.C. was very much in charge. He insisted on a finer building with nice details. On the outside, for example, the wall towards the main road, Ryggeveien, is not just a flat piece of brick wall, but broken into pieces and at the ends mounted with windows, which was suggested by C.C. to break up the wall and prevent a purely functional, flat and boring design. These windows provide additional lighting and a feel of space, which gives a better work environment and is to great pleasure, even for the employees working here today (see picture from the Christmas card). The overall layout was with a U-turn, where one port at the end was for incoming goods. Everything would be assembled in a kind-of flow through the factory, to end up at the same end, but on the other side, with the finished goods, ready to ship.
Ryggeveien 96, Moss
This image shows the Danish and Norwegian sites of SEAS (from an old Christmas card). The Norwegian site shows the new buildings, designed by architect IKO (Industrikonsulent A/S, located in Oslo), in which SEAS Norway still reside today.
1975: SEAS (Norway) officially move into new and modern premises just outside Moss, but shortly afterwards the company had peaked. In Radiobransjen we can read that in late summer 1975 there's about 250 employees in Norway and just about 100 employees in Denmark. Notice how the staff in Denmark is just about cut in half.
1977: A SEAS engineer (Tore H. Wiik) invented the patented DD-rings as part of the Dynamic Damping concept. The concept consists of two shortening rings at each end of the voice coil. Today one would say that this is a very undesirable feature, as this type of nonlinear daming is bad for the sound quality. At the time and onwards it was high fashion to use progressive spiders and this kind of dynamic damping was probably suitable for the speakers at that particular time. (Today the concept is applied by Audio Technology; Skaaning is using a design where a Polyetherimide (Kapton) voice coil former is stiffened by aluminium in an area above the voice coil and the aluminium dampens excessive excursion in one direction due to eddy-currents when the voice coil moves down in the magnet system).
On 3. August 1977, Magnus Nesdam-Madsen is hired to SEAS, to be the daily manager. He takes over from Ole Skoge with ca. 4 weeks of overlap.
Nesdam worked to increase the product quality (audiophile level) at SEAS Denmark. At the same time Nesdam doing daily management at SEAS Norway, he is not popular among the employees, he had a very controlling personality. Things escalate around 1979.
SEAS Norway was experiencing several strikes from the employees. The story goes that Nesdam finally became so tired of the situation, he arranged the entire tweeter production to be moved by truck to SEAS Denmark. Everything was loaded and on its way to Sweden - the Swedish border is not that far away from SEAS in Moss. Unfortunately, Norwegian law does not allow production equipment to be moved during a strike. A toll at the border was apparently well acquanited with the law as well as the situation at SEAS - so when he saw the suspicious trucks arriving at the border, it was refused to leave Norway and Nesdams trip ended here.
At any rate, the Norwegian site was planned for closure, when the political situation in Norway (it being election year) turned things upside down. Suddenly there was political interest in keeping work places in Norway. The Norwegian site was supported financially and instead it was now the profitable Danish site, which should close. Obviously this knife-in-the-back stab at Nesdam was not to his liking. I believe he must have been furious.
1981: After some difficult years, the Danish company managed to break away from SEAS by what the new Norwegian owners regards as a criminal act. It was named Vifa and became a competitor from one day to the next.
SEAS attempted to file a lawsuit, but given significant financial trouble it was not possible to proceed.
12. august 1981: Gro Harlem Brundtland, Arbeiderpartiet (Labor party) and prime minister at the time, visit SEAS in Moss.
The story goes that SEAS Denmark and Norway was financed by Ringkjøbing Landbobank. The loan had to be paid by a certain date. This transfer was confirmed by Telex to Ringkjøbing Landbobank. Any time in the evening would have been legally OK. As the bank closed down at 4 p.m. Nesdam had arranged with the bank that the Telex was (somehow) turned off, making the transfer not possible, which means SEAS Norway defaulted on the loan.
SEAS Norway claimed to have transferred the payment, whereas in Denmark it was claimed to have never arrived, obviously creating a serious dispute. With a loan that had been defaulted upon, Nesdam further more arranged that the property was transferred to the lender and arranged that he together with Ringkjøbing Landbobank were the new owners of SEAS Denmark. Whereas SEAS Norway was left behind, SEAS Denmark was transferred to the new ownership.
In 1982 SEAS (Norway) as a company was reconstructed. New investor requires that over time the company must be handed over to employees. During the process, to raise capital, the buildings in Moss were sold and rented back (the situation is unchanged today).
In the fall of 1982, the factory buildings are sold to investors (A/S Alpha) for 18 mio. kr. Alpha sells the buildings in 1985 to a group of 10 people (each with a 10% share), represented by Finn Haugen, for 21 mio. kr.
There was not much management to pickup SEAS Norway. It was all handled by R&D Manager, Jan Paus.
In 1984 the SEAS employees buy 10% of the shares.
In 1986 the employees take over SEAS through a holding company, Nexus. Until early 2014 the company was entirely owned by this holding company, which is owned by employees. This was organized by Jan Paus.
In September 1990, According to High Fidelity (magazine) there's about 80 employees at SEAS. The last 8 years up through the 80s had been a time period of hard work and bringing financial stability to the company. Products and choice of materials were relatively conservative, but you can read the details in the history of Bjørn Børja.
The time period through the 80s and into the 90s were also a time with very fierce competition between SEAS and VIFA, in particular the UK market, with customers like Harbeth, Linn, Mission, PMC, ProAc, Spendor.
As the situation allowed it, creativity would rise. Late 80s came the coaxial products, 1993 came the Excel products, incl. the Magnesium cone woofer series. In 1997 the Hexadym magnet system was patented. In 2007 the Exotic series of drivers was launched.
The general manager Jan Paus resigned late 2008 to retire, and as of January 2009, Olav Mellum Arntzen, the R&D manager, became general manager of SEAS.
January 2014 it was time for the NEXUS ownership to end and SEAS was purchased by Sonavox Canada. Most of the owners (through NEXUS) had retired. Only the present management at SEAS, continues ownership in the new organization, with 15% ownership.
This information is picked from the History section of the SEAS web site, personal conversations with Jan Paus and Bjørn Børja as well as studying a large quantity of old documents from protocols to contracts and scrapbooks with newspaper clips, which has been kept and preserved in the archives at SEAS Fabrikker A/S.
Furthermore, there's an article about the history of SEAS in the Danish magazine "High Fidelity", September 1990.