How the grandson of the St. Petersburg hussar brought Swedish hoses to Russia
50 years ago, Björn Holmström founded the Hydroscand company, which produces hydraulic hoses and connectors. Today it is an international business with multi-million dollar turnover. But, if we trace its history a little deeper, the roots of the enterprise are suddenly found in Russia, in pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg.
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Physic mathematical department and iron horses
Maternal grandfather of Björn Holmström, Fedor Batalin, came from a respected and prosperous family. Among the Batalins there were officials, engineers, scientists, and even the director of the Botanical Garden. In 1902, Fedor entered the Physics and Mathematics Department of Imperial St. Petersburg University. However, he did not finish the course and in 1908 he went to serve in Riga, in the 3rd Hussar Elisavetgrad regiment.
Having returned to St. Petersburg, Fedor Batalin received an appointment in the Council of orphanages. In 1911, he left the civil service with the rank of a college assessor and devoted himself to ... automobiles. At that time, horseless carts began to get into fashion and already had their fans. Fedor, together with his elder brother Alexander, went into the partnership Avtomobil and worked in a car repair shop at Nevsky, 106. In 1914, he became a trustee of Zorge and Zabek, a company selling car accessories. And in 1913, Fedor and Alexander launched their own business: until the revolution, it had been possible to buy automobile goods in the store Batalins Brother at Nevsky, 57.

Fedor Batalin (left) and his brother Alexander
The last Petrograd address of Fedor Batalin is house 14 at Panteleymonovskaya Street (present-day Pestel). Here he lived with his wife Lyubov and daughter Natalia, born in 1913. Having emigrated, the Batalins settled in Berlin, where Fedor worked as a driver at the Embassy. He passed away in 1930. Five years later, his daughter married Swede Stig Holstrom, and a year later Björn Holmström, a future founder of Hydroscand, was born.
A basement near Stockholm
Björn inherited from his Russian grandfather both love for technology and entrepreneurial spirit. Having noted that equipment at construction sites often stood idle due to bursting hoses, he thought over problem solutions. And on September 19, 1969, the Hydroscand company was founded. Initially, it occupied a small basement in Orby, a suburb of Stockholm.
HYDROSCAND, Бьорн Хольмстрем, шланги, шланги высокое давление
In the 70s, the company specialization, which is still relevant, was determined: Hydroscand focused on providing services for the manufacture of high-pressure hoses and components for them. The company was gradually developing inside Sweden, in 1976 it entered the international arena by opening a service workshop in Norway, and in 1997 in Finland.
In two thousands, the expansion accelerated. In 2000, Hydroscand launched the first division in Estonia, and began to conquer the markets of Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania. In 2002, it reached the UK, in 2003 — Latvia.
It is a special feeling
In 2006, the Hydroscand group bought its own dealer in Russia, which had been selling its products for several years by that time. That way the first Russian Hydroscand division appeared in St. Petersburg.
HYDROSCAND, Бьорн Хольмстрем, шланги, шланги высокое давление
Fragment from Hydroscand corporate edition
"For me and my sister Nina, who assisted us a lot at the starting up period, this is a special feeling to be back in Russia almost 90 years after our mother and our grandparents had to leave Russia in a bit of a rush as our grandfather was an officer with the tsar," - wrote Björn Holmström in the Hydroscand corporate newspaper. In the same item, he welcomed new employees and provided an email address for communication with St. Petersburg.
The work of the Russian Hydroscand was originally organized according to the Swedish standards. This included both fundamental things as financial transparency and important details for the brand, starting from the recognizable look of service workshops and ending with clothes for employees.
Schoolchildren from Appelbosch
In 2011, the Hydroscand group appeared on the African continent, having bought a company with the headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa. In the process of launching the branch office, Hydroscand representatives visited the small village of Appelbosch in KwaZulu-Natal province, where they were shown a local school. The Swedes did not like the lack of repair and just two overcrowded classes, but they were impressed by the enthusiasm of the children: the little Africans wanted to study no matter the odds.
After this visit, the hydraulic hose manufacturer launched its own social and educational project in Africa. Thanks to Hydroscand, Appelbosch schoolchildren gradually got three more additional classes, sports grounds, new books in the library, computers and fast Wi-Fi. A new roadway was rendered to the school; the area around it was drained.
Annually the best graduates get a Hydroscand scholarship, which helps them continue their education at the university.
Where there is narrow, there is no break
The Swedish company considers an advantage its narrow specialization, which allows to hone quality to an impressive level. A lot of Hydroscand customers notice that the necessity to change hoses several times a year disappears. And sometimes hoses work even longer than the mechanism on which they are installed.
Hydroscand products are applied in equipment used in metallurgy, engineering, woodworking, power industry, construction, mining, logging, agriculture, etc. Petersburgers, who are far from the industries mentioned above, can experience the Swedish quality in 12 city cinemas, where Hydroscand helps to move seats in the auditoriums to create the 4D effect.
HYDROSCAND, Бьорн Хольмстрем, шланги, шланги высокое давление
Honorary right to cut the hose
In 2018, the Hydroscand group turnover exceeded 240 million euros. It is present in 20 countries with more than 240 representative offices. Over 140 HoseExpress service vans go to their customers directly to the site of failure, whether it is a construction site, quarry or forest. The group employs more than 1,400 employees, and the number of its customers exceeds 100,000.
As for Russia, there are about 30 Hydroscand divisions here. Their number continues to grow, and in 2019 it is planned to open the most eastern service workshop - in Khabarovsk. By the way, during such Hydroscand events they cut not a symbolic red ribbon, but a hydraulic hose. It turns out both witty and technologically.
In July 2019, the grandchildren of Björn Holmström - Sofia and Alexander - raised the flag to honor the opening of a new Hydroscand office and warehouse in St. Petersburg
Björn Holmström at the celebration of the Russian Hydroscand 10th anniversary in a family and colleagues environment
The material is prepared for Hydroscand specifically

The author: Maria Semenova
The editor / proofreader: Elena Vinogradova
The project coordinators: Elena Rozhnova, Olga Golubeva
The photo courtesy of Hydroscand Russia
The designer: Ekaterina Elizarova

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