The history of Oddi is like that of many others in Iceland. The pioneers started small, but succeeded with diligence and thrift to strengthen their operations year by year. By keeping up with fast technological developments and by adopting innovations quickly and effectively, the company grew and flourished. Now Oddi is a leading company in the print industry where operations are based on the same principles as before, on competent and well educated employees who are only satisfied with the best.
Oddi was founded on 9 October 1943. Finnbogi Rútur Valdimarsson and Baldur Eyþórsson were driving forces in founding the company. They soon enlisted the help of the printer Björgvin Benediktsson and the typesetter Ellert Ág. Magnússon. The company began operations in Ásmundarsalur at Freyjugata 41 and shared its premises with a well-known Icelandic sculptor Ásmundur Sveinsson. Baldur Eyþórsson was appointed manager of the print shop. From the very start, emphasis was placed on efficient operations and also on achieving a reputation for meticulous and professional work. The first large publication printed in Oddi was a 3 volume issue of the Ancient Nordic Sagas.
The premises in Ásmundarsalur were only temporary and after one year the printing shop was moved to rented accommodation at Grettisgata 16, which the company purchased in 1946. A year later, the company purchased the bookbinding company Sveinabókbandið as it was clearly a great economic advantage to operate bookbinding in connection with the printing work. Sveinabókbandið was a separate company up to 1971 when its operations were merged with Oddi.
In the 1950s data-processing machines began to make their impact. These precursors to the computer needed special paper which was imported. Oddi management was progressive and was quick to spot opportunities in this technology. In 1958, the first machine for printing on computer paper was purchased and during the coming years machinery was upgraded regularly. This progressive approach was a significant factor in making Oddi the country’s largest and most technologically advanced printing company in Iceland.
This was a period of continuous expansion and some of the largest publishers had almost all their titles printed at Oddi. Early in the 1960s Oddi was contracted to print the telephone directory and has done so ever since. There was no longer space for all operations at Grettisgata 16, so the house next door was purchased for expansion. This measure however only lasted until 1968 when the company moved all its operations and equipment from Grettisgata 16 and 18 to Bræðraborgarstígur 7, around the same time as it celebrated its 25th anniversary. Those premises proved excellent despite being on many floors. In that year Oddi also started offset printing, which led to a major increase in business. Once again space started to restrict operations and Oddi expanded into Bræðraborgarstígur 9 for a little more elbow room.
Yet another technological innovation was introduced in the late 1970s, when computers took over from typesetting machines. Once again, Oddi was in the vanguard and the company’s market lead increased even further. Expanding operations called for bigger premises and when a suitable plot of land was found at Höfðabakki 7, it was decided to build premises that were tailor-made forcompany’s needs. The first shovel of Earth was turned in 1979, and only 20 months later all Oddi operations had been transferred to the premises at Höfðabakki.
About that time a new generation of managers took over as the pioneers passed away in a short space of time. The chairman of the board, Gísli Gíslason, died in 1980, Baldur Eyþórsson in 1982 and Björgvin Benediktsson in in 1984. Þorgeir Baldursson took over management of the printing and Benedikt Björgvinsson and Haraldur Gíslason joined him on the board. Development continued in the spirit of the pioneers. A 4-colour press was purchased shortly after the move, which totally transformed printing processes. A few years later, a five-speed print press arrived and in 1992, Oddi introduced a Scitex computer system which was one of the most technologically advanced in the world. Oddi had at this time without doubt become the most technologically advanced and versatile printing company in the Nordic countries. The scope of its operations was also continuously being expanded and reached out beyond the domestic market. In 1989, a new company called Oddi Printing was founded in New York, where it still operates today. For a time, Oddi also operated the Eymundsson bookshops, the publishers Þjóðsaga, Örn og Örlygur and also operated its own retail stationeries.
A major milestone in making Oddi a comprehensive provider of printing and packaging services was achieved when printing operations were merged with Guttenberg printing company and with the packaging operations of Kassagerðin on 1 October 2008. The final steps in the same direction were taken at the turn of the year 2012-2013 when Plastprent – founded in 1957 and which had long been a leader in plastic packaging – was merged with Oddi. This merger resulted in a powerful Icelandic company on the packaging market with the combined experience of more than 300 employees.
The parent company of Oddi is Kvos, which was founded on 1 January 2006 and is a holding and investment company in the printing and related industries. Kvos operates Oddi’s offices. See further about KVOS