Hitch On With Swedish Gear From ThuleJuly 17, 2019
No matter where you go, Thule wants you to bring it. And depending on who you are, that “it” might mean something different. It might be a bike or a board, a stroller or luggage, but whatever it may be, Thule has a solution to help you bring it where you need to go.
Thule is the largest brand in the Thule Group, which has more than 2,300 employees in 35 locations around the world. The company got its start in Malmö, Sweden, but we’re going to start this story back in 1942 in a village about three hours north called Hillerstorp.
It was in the small community of Hillerstorp where Thule would get its start. A Swede by the name of Erik Thulin slapped “Thule” on a fishing trap that he designed and started selling to fisherman in Scandinavia.
As the company began to evolve, so did its product line, and by the 1960s, Thule began producing the car-related products that many people associate with the company today.
According to Thule Group’s website, Thulin sold the family business to a public company called the Eldon Group in 1979. The company changed hands a few times, but today, it’s a publicly held company that has been led by CEO Magnus Welander for the past nine years.
The owners may have changed over time, but solving the storage and transportation needs of its customers has not.
Thule produces roof racks, bike racks, cargo carriers, strollers, luggage, bike trailers, hiking backpacks and other outdoor adventure gear. It has a presence around the world, and as with other retailers, its best-selling products vary from country to country, culture to culture.
“We have a number of top-selling products and categories based on the region we sell them in,” said Chris Ritchie, a PR and communications manager for Thule. “Thule products are offered in 140 countries, so there are regions where our bike carriers are the best-selling where cycling is a major recreational activity, and other regions where our child bike seats are the most popular where consumers frequent commuting with their children.”
As you can imagine, the number of car and truck make and model combinations is enough to make any mathematician’s head spin (thankfully, there is a Fit my Car tool on Thule’s website). The design challenge for companies like Thule is having a well-crafted utilitarian product, that, when hard mounted on a vehicle, is functional yet aesthetically pleasing.
“Thule is known globally as a true leader in innovation and the testing that goes into our various products and categories is like no other brand,” Ritchie said. “While we have a keen focus on creating the best products possible from a safety and performance perspective, we also strive to make all of our products and features very stylish and easy to use.”
The Thule customer
Founded in the land of Allemansrätten, Thule’s products are made for those who like to explore the world and get out into the world. And for all the parents out there, Thule makes sure its products work for you, too. Because let’s face it, who hasn’t said, “OK, get in the car, we need to get out of this house,” to a toddler?
“Staying active and enjoying the outdoors regardless of your passion, are two key components of our brand’s DNA,” Ritchie said. “We wanted to make sure we kept new parents experiencing their active passions, but also offer great solutions for getting the next generation of active users outside.
“We want to create products that keep this generation experiencing the amazing things about being active and outside, but if we can help lead those children into the next generation as outdoor ambassadors and adults striving for an active and healthy life, that will surely make for a better future.”
As our cultures and habits evolve, brands like Thule have to refine and fine-tune their products to meet consumers where they are. When SUVs started to change shapes and styles, Thule adjusted its roof racks. When cyclists started to change their tires or switched to e-bikes, Thule made new bike racks to accommodate these changes. And as modes of transportation evolve and ebb and flow thanks to climate change and the economy, Thule is ready to meet the needs of even more customers.
“Thule’s future is loaded with new and innovative products for all types of active users,” Ritchie said. “More than just outdoor-focused users, we are now introducing new products for active users in all settings like urban parents looking to take in a busy day with their kids in a stylish four-wheeled stroller, to the busy traveler looking for the most durable and easy-to-use luggage for a long trip.”
Consider us sold. Here, hold our keys while we find the right rack for our bikes.