The once-renowned Veriga Lesce factory has a rich history of producing chains and other steel products. At the location where the factory used to stand, there are still several companies, such as IBV d.o.o., continuing this tradition.

People started to produce chains back in the Bronze Age, which dates back to the 3rd millennium BC. First, chains were produced for jewellery, then for fences, animals and later for the maritime industry. The first large-scale production of chains started in the 18th century in Germany. Chains were mostly produced near streams and rivers, using water as a driving force. In the beginning of the 20th century, forge welding was replaced by electric resistance welding, while after the Second World War, the production of chain and other steel products was almost fully automated.

France Šolar, the head of the first cooperative for crafts and other iron products, inspired Ivan Magušar, a landowner from Kropa, to build the Veriga Lesce factory. Magušar joined forces with Henrik Haberle, the head of a chain factory in Bela Peč in Italy. They were joined by some other investors and together they built the factory. Initially, the factory was intended to manufacture nails and screws, and only later a decision was made to produce chains. The first machines and professional staff were obtained from Bela Peč and the factory consisting of 55 workers started in 1922.

The company developed into one of the biggest producers of chains and screws in Europe. In the following years, various links, buckles and bridles, agricultural and ploughing equipment, fittings for shoes, furniture springs, tools, etc. were added to the product range. Nails were also produced for a while. The success of the factory was a sign of good leadership and diligence of workers, who were also able to stand up for

themselves and in 1935 a three-week-long general strike against capitalist exploitation was organised. Today, this incident is commemorated by a monument, which proudly stands at the entrance to the Lesce industrial zone.

During wartime, the factory hardly operated, while after the war production grew rapidly and fell under the ownership of the Republic. In the 1950s, the range was extended to include maritime and agricultural programmes. In 1962, the factory began to produce anchor chains for the maritime industry and thus became the producer of chains of all thicknesses. The factory covered the entire Yugoslav market, and exported one half of anchor chains (and also snow chains) to Western countries. Other products were exported to the eastern European markets.

It focused on the mining industry and improved the quality of chains. All through this time, Veriga Lesce cooperated with Železarna Jesenice and the quality of chains depended on the quality of steel produced in Jesenice and improved over the years. In 1973, Veriga Lesce joined the merged entity of Slovenian Ironworks. Steel was started to be delivered from Ravne and Štore ironworks and imported.

In addition to producing different products, the Veriga Lesce factory also had tensile-testing machines which were used to conduct tests on chains, called A-tests. A-tests are required by insurance companies and there were many present in Veriga Lesce since the factory produced the anchor programme for ships from all over the world. A-tests can be obtained from IBV d.o.o. even today.

At its height in the 1970s, the factory was producing over 13,000 tonnes of products. Technical chains for mining industry and lifts, anchor chains and chains for wheel programme saw the most prominent advance in development. New large halls were built

which changed the appearance of the factory. International training in the German language was organised. In the 1980s, production stagnated slightly. In 1990, around 10,000 tonnes of products were produced, and the factory had 1100 employees.

In the early 1980s, incorrect political associations of companies took place, also including Veriga Lesce. Out of this, conglomerates emerged that were too large and uncontrollable. Maintenance was also too expensive, causing companies to close their doors. Due to the financial crisis and the loss of the ex-Yugoslav markets and strong foreign competition, the state privatised Veriga Lesce in 1991. After 70 successful years of operation, this meant a collapse of Veriga.

After the collapse of the old Veriga, a new business and industrial zone was built in Lesce and renovated for 4 years. Almost 40 small companies were founded, including some plants who have pursued the tradition of producing and designing chains and steel wire ropes. The industrial zone has become one of the most successful business and industry zones in Slovenia. It employs over 500 people on 90,000 square metres.

One of these companies, which continues the old Lesce tradition of producing and designing iron and steel products, is the family company IBV – izdelovanje bremenskih žičnih vrvi in verig ter trgovina, d.o.o. IBV which still offers transport and lifting chains, wire ropes, lifting slings, shackles turnbuckle, etc. and provide inspection of products. A quality test is performed for purchased and inspected products, because the quality of products is essential. This is also the reason why we choose the best suppliers of material only from the European market.

Director of IBV d.o.o., Leja Benedičič