In the dawn of the nineteenth century, Norway’s industrial landscape was fragmented, lacking the necessary infrastructure for product specialization. The scarcity of resources necessitated local production of everything from food and clothing to tools, education, and healthcare. In this pre-industrial milieu, in the small village of Gjövik, the factory «Brusveen Spiger- og Staltradfabrikk» was established by Hans Skikkelstad in 1832. Later, Skikkelstad’s son-in-law Ole Hovelsen Mustad (1810–84), took over the company with his son Hans Mustad (1837–1918) and changed its name to O. Mustad & Søn.
O. Mustad & Søn flourished and soon became a leading supplier of assorted metal goods, such as steel wire, nails, tacks, horseshoe nails, fish hooks, shipbuilding spikes, paper clips, and various other wire-based articles.

Rapid expansion through mechanical ingenuity

In the latter half of the previous century, Mustad pioneered advanced machinery for the automated manufacture of horseshoe nails. This technological leap created a decisive competitive edge and led to rapid expansion and growth largely through exports to various European countries. In the same period, the company’s fishhook business grew substantially. Advanced machinery and new production methods developed by Mustad’s in-house engineers led by the technical genius Mathias Topp, together with hook makers from leading English manufacturers, solidified the company’s standing in the fishhook market.

The bold vision of Hans Mustad transforms the company

In the 1880s, Norwegian trade restrictions impeded Mustad’s expansion, prompting Hans Mustad, the third-generation owner, to steer the company toward internationalization with remarkable courage and foresight.

Between the 1890s and 1920s, Hans and his sons acquired over 300 competitors across Europe, establishing state-of-the-art Mustad factories in key markets. By the mid-1920s, the Mustad group dominated the European horseshoe nail sector, with 8,000 employees operating automatic nail machines in 13 countries. During this same period, the fishhook business flourished globally, constantly adding new models, and conquering new markets. Mustad’s sales force travelled the world and in doing so established business relations in the most remote corners of the globe. At one point , the Mustad product portfolio contained over 105,000 different types and sizes of hooks, to satisfy even the most demanding customer.

Innovations and anecdotes

Mustad’s success was underpinned by technological breakthroughs in metallurgy, particularly in steel wire products like horse shoe nails, paper clips, needles, hairpins, carding tools, and fish hooks alongside diverse inventions like zippers, door-handles, and roofing fixtures. Other innovations, more surprising perhaps were motor scooters, cars, lawn mowers, automatic spreaders for sand, salt, and fertilizer. Other more successful products were wood stoves, frying pans, hammers, axes, waffle irons and other household hardware.

Mustad Margarin

Another venture of Mustad was into margarine production, a division that thrived for nearly a century before being divested in 1996.

Triumphs and trials

The Mustad company has survived every major economic upheaval in war and peace. After the Second World War the company lost all its factories behind the Iron Curtain; about two-thirds of its activities and 8,000 employees. The company’s decentralized, independent structure allowed the rest of the organization to survive and grow. Even during times of war and economic strife Mustad has continuously invested in improving the quality of their products, always trying to stay ahead of the global competition.

Mustad Longline

The history of Mustad Automated Longline Systems began in the 1960’s with the recognition of the potential for automation in commercial linefishing operations. In response to the evolving needs of the fishing industry, Mustad set out to develop cutting-edge technology to streamline longline fishing operations. By automating the deployment, retrieval, and baiting processes, Mustad was able to enhance the efficiency, productivity, and sustainability in commercial linefishing. Over the years, the Mustad Autoline System has undergone continuous refinement and innovation. Advanced robotics, sensors, and control systems are integrated into the design to optimize performance and reliability in challenging marine environments. Mustad Autoline AS was established as an independant company in 2004 and remains under the ownership of the Mustad family.

Mustad Autoline today

At Mustad Autoline today, up to 15% of the turnover is dedicated to R&D. The results are clear with nearly 90% market share on demersal autolining systems. Not only have our customers put their trust in Mustad Autoline, but a partnership has been formed where needs and recommendations are given serious consideration to make excellent products even better. Prioritizing improved efficiency and safer working conditions has allowed Mustad Autoline to promote a healthy working environment and a thriving future in longlining for generations to come.