It all started in 1697 with forging by hand using water driven hammers. Products being fabricated in the beginning included nails and iron bars which were then followed by hand tools such as axes and spades. From its founding until the 1820s the facility was owned by absentee wealthy nobles. Around 1820 the family Ekelund took over the complex. Three generations of Ekelunds ran the Hults Bruk works for over 100 years. The family lived on-site for the entire time of their ownership. In the late 1870s the owner and ironmonger Gunnar Ekelund took the initiative to make axes according state-of-the-art American production methods. In 1887 he traveled to America to study those industrial methods and to buy modern machinery. An additional purpose of his trip was to open up a new market for Hults Bruk axes in the United States where the first axes were sold in the late 1880s. Gunner Ekelund died in 1928 at the age of 78 after running the company for 42 years, but not before setting the Hults Bruk works on a course of modernization.