This Christmas Eve the oldest company still operating in Faroe, Valdemar Lützen Ltd, will turn 111 years old.
The trading company was established in 1904 and began selling building materials and coal, but has over time adapted to the changing demand for its goods and services.
A large number of people have worked in the company over the past century.
Mr. Valdemar Lützen founded the company, which ever since has carried the founder’s name, at the former Østrøm canning factory at Skálatrøð, which at the time was the largest and most solidly built business structure in the country.
This site became the operational base of the company initially selling building materials and coal. Mr. Lützen bought his own ship, ‘Forældres Minde’, to import from abroad the goods the company then sold throughout Faroe. From Tórshavn the company used smaller boats, amongs them the company’s own barge, ‘Diddan’, to supply goods to the other islands in Faroe.
‘Diddan’ was also used to land imported goods from foreign ships which were too big to dock in then the small harbor of the capital.
The company’s first ship was later sold, and Mr Lützen had a new ship, ‘Sjey Systrar’, built, which Andrias á Høvdanum from Strendur captained. Besides freighting imports to Faroe this 3-masted schooner also exported split salted fish and other goods from Faroe to the Mediterranean countries.
THE YEARS FROM 1930
In the 1930s Mr Lützen again diverisfied his business operations to include a freezing plant and cold storage at the company premises in Østrøm’s factory.
This was the time when Faroe fishermen started experimenting with catching and landing fresh iced fish for onshore processing and export.
In addition it gave individual households an opportunity to rent freezing space for storing fresh food for private consumption.
When Faroe vessels switched from iced to salted cod again in 1948-49 the Lützen’s frozen fish processing was discontinued.
At the time when the freezer factory was operating at Rættará, Mr Valdemar Lützen purchased at a sand dredging boat with Mr. Niels í Heiðunum. Niels was skipper of the boat, ‘Slúkur’, which dredged sand along the coast and unloaded the sand into storage at Rættará, from where the sand was sold for concrete house and other construction at the time. ‘Slúkur’ was sold to Iceland during World War II.
In the period 1925 – 1947 Mr. Lützen also sold diesel and petrol for ESSO, but when the latter built its own fuel storage tanks and restructured its oil supply service in Faroe, he stopped selling oil products.
Valdemar Lützen chartered big vessels abroad to transport building materials and shipments of coal and coke on a regular basis. At that time international freight prices were so low that Mr. Lützen sold all his ships and imported goods with these rented big ships instead.
STARTED WITH IRONMONGERY
In 1952 the company opened a new line of business, when Anni Lützen started a small store selling domestic utensils at Bryggjubakki.
When Valdemar Lützen (junior), grandson of the company founder, returned to Faroe after having completed his commercial education in Holbæk and Newcastle, the company bought Heinesen’s Store at Vágsbotn and started a tools and hardware shop with the young Valdemar Lützen as manager.
In the early 1960s Valdemar Lützen junior extended his store to two floors in the building.
TOOLS AND HARDWARE
This business continued in the building at Vágsbotn till the mid 1980s, when the decision was made to move the tools, hardware and machinery departments to the large company premises at Skálatrøð, so that ironmongery and building materials were operated in the same building complex.
By moving the hardware store from Vágsbotn to Skálatrøð, Valdemar Lützen junior had handed his life’s work on to the next generation, while he himself continued operating from Vágsbotn selling domestic utensils on both floors of the building with much success.