A 24 year old Gunnar Florning, whose hobby was to cut out shapes in wood, and sometimes in buffalo horn, was approached by Illums Bolighus with the offer of purchasing all the cranes that he would produce in buffalo horn. Florning quit his job and rented a few rooms in Svanevej, Copenhagen NV district. He created his first workshop here, and made about 25 cranes in a week. A year or so later, he also began making lions and other animal figures. The items sold so well that he hired his first 5 or 6 employees.
A merchant named Laurids Lonborg, impressed with Florning’s creations, offered to purchase all that he produced, turning Florning’s hobby into a big business of handicrafts and gift items designed and manufactured in wood, leather, wicker, acrylic, and other materials. With the increase in demand came the requirements of larger premises and more employees. About 35 employees were hired, and the production was moved to the old Dana Light factory in Blegdamsvej 114a, Copenhagen. One floor in the factory was devoted to woodworking; another was fitted for painting and assembly. A third was used for curve acrylic leather and skin processing. The factory also had a warehouse in the attic.
A large part of the timber was sourced, already processed, from companies around the country, and brought to the factory for production of the items. Following is a list with the total number of some major items produced.
• Cats - 250,000
• Mouse - 300,000
• Lion Brushes - 80,000
• Dogs - 90,000
• Sparrows rosewood - 90,000
• Pelikan wooden - 20,000
• Lions in ropes - 50,000
• Other tovfigurer - 30,000
• Soldiers - 10,000
• Pepper Chefs - 30,000
• Salt chefs boy - 25,000
• Brush vagabonds - 20,000
• Brush Vikings - 5,000
• Toothpicks hedgehog - 25,000
• Cats pepper mills - 15,000
• Elephants in oak - 30,000
• Clown (portable) - 10,000
• Sailor ( portable) - 10,000
Glass and bottle pieces, salt shakers, pepper mills, osteskærere, wooden egg cups, napkin rings, trælysestager, wastepaper baskets, etc. were also made in great numbers. At around this time Florning formed the A/S Aniform with Laurids Lonborg.
Florning’s work in the factory had to come to an end in 1965, when it was discovered that he had become allergic to almost all types of wood dust. He remembers all the employees in the factory with gratitude for their services and for helping him through this particularly difficult time. Motivated by their positive attitude, Florning studied to become a realtor, started a business as an independent realtor. After working for 17 years as an independent contractor, he was offered a job in the Kreditforeningen Denmark (KD) as an evaluation inspector. The IT solutions that he drew up as an evaluation inspector, earned him the position of the head of IT department of KD. KD began acquiring real estate to establish the real estate agency ‘HOME’, and Florning was appointed the technical manager of KD’s 137 stores. He retired at the age of 64, and lived in Slangerup with his wife Inge, and daughters Anette and Randi.
Florning grew up in Bispebjerg in the 1930s and 1940s in a very large, happy family and a spacious house. He had a curious mind, and was empathetic by nature. His ability to listen to people and advise them whenever necessary, combined with his innate empathy made most people like him and enjoy his company.
Florning met Inge in Prater in 1951, and it was love at first sight for both of them, and they moved into a small guest house. They had two daughters, after which Florning got busy with his hobby of cutting shapes in wood. With Illums Bolighus contacting Florning, offering to purchase his creations, the factory was started where the now famous characters began to be made. Having had to quit his beloved work of creating wooden characters, Florning studied to become a realtor and opened a new business, starting a completely new career.
Florning was very much in tune with technology. He created his own website, which is frequently visited to this day. He got his first computer at the age of 45, and was quick in understanding the process of making programs. This ability of his took him to the position of technical manager of Kreditforeningen, where he helped start up the HOME chain, and bring together all the broker stores in one large residential database.
After 59 years together, Gunnar Florning’s wife Inge passed away in 2010. Her death was a big blow to Florning, who felt her loss intensely. He then met Lis through their common interest in music, and found love once again at the age of 79. Florning and Lis spent four years together until he passed away from his lengthy illness. Gunnar Florning was a man who loved life, and lived it to the fullest even in his old age. Always grateful for everything good that happened to him, he was known to say that it was dangerous to live, because one ran the risk of dying from it.