IN 1971, BO HILLEBERG, a professional forester, founded his own company, Hilleberg AB. That same year, while on a ski vacation in the Austrian Tyrol, Bo met Renate Neuner. After a couple of years, the two had fallen in love, married, and she had moved with him to Stockholm, Sweden. Their marriage was the final, necessary ingredient in the mix that has become Hilleberg the Tentmaker.
Before Renate, Bo’s fledgling company was primarily a forestry equipment concern, with tent making as a hoped-for sideline. An avid, lifelong outdoorsman, Bo was terminally frustrated with tents that required pitching the inner tent first and then covering it with a loose rain fly that usually displayed the same properties as a kite in the wind. He envisioned a tent that had an outer and inner tent that pitched together, simultaneously – but he didn’t have the necessary sewing skills. With Bo and Renate’s marriage, conjugal and commercial became one: Renate took charge of the sewing while Bo handled design and sales, and with their combined efforts, the company flourished.
Today, family and business are still inextricably linked. Bo is Chairman, and is still in charge of design and development; daughter Petra is CEO of the Hilleberg Group and handles all company business outside of Europe; and Bo, Renate, Petra and her brother Rolf make up the governing board of directors – clearly, family synergy continues to beget success.