Valmet Automotive, Finland's only manufacturer of passenger cars, has operated in Uusikaupunki since 1969. Of its 1,700 employees, 800 were recruited last year.
The huge jump in the number of employees is attributable to the launch of Mercedes-Benz A-Class production. In 2013, more than 50 million euros was invested into a new body-welding line for the A-Class. Among other things, the investment includes 175 robots. Valmet Automotive has hundreds of people working alongside robots to manufacture well over a hundred cars every day. This year's goal is to achieve a production record of more than 47,000 cars.
ENGINEERING, MANUFACTURING AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT
"The first car that rolled out of our factory was a Saab 96 with the license plate EKA-69. [‘Eka’ means ‘first’ in Finnish.] It was given to the President of Finland, Urho Kekkonen," recalls Valmet Automotive’s President Ilpo Korhonen.
Korhonen was appointed President of Valmet Automotive in 2008. He joined the company in 1983 as an assembly line worker.
Manufacturing is just one part of the whole automotive operation. In the 1980s, the company started investing in engineering expertise. Supply chain management and total ecosystem management account for a significant part of the company’s business.
"Our services can be divided into engineering, car manufacturing and the roof systems business. From these services, we create tailor-made packages to meet the needs of the car industry customer; the content of the project packages can vary greatly, depending on the customer and the product."
The company was jointly owned by Saab and Valmet until 1992, when Valmet acquired full ownership of the company. The name was changed in 1995 from Saab-Valmet to Valmet Automotive. Strong internationalisation started in the1990s, and several car brands, like Opel and Porsche, were added to the production portfolio.
Valmet Automotive's Board of Directors was renewed in last May. "The Board has several individuals with international experience. We also gained more car industry know-how," says President Ilpo Korhonen.
CHANGES CREATE NEW OPPORTUNITIES
Changes in ownership and the renewed composition of the Board of Directors have brought new business opportunities and have expanded the company’s know-how.
"Finnish Industry Investment and Pontos joined as new owners in 2010 and enabled the acquisition of the convertible roof systems manufacturing business from central Europe. We manufacture roof systems for BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lamborghini, among others. We have decades of experience as a manufacturer of Saab and Porsche convertibles."
Valmet Automotive’s Board of Directors was renewed last May, and the main owners hold Board positions.
"The Board has several individuals with international experience. We also gained more car industry know-how. It gives us a better understanding of what customers expect and what kinds of needs are envisioned for the future."
The road ahead looks good. Economic recovery in the United States gives the industry added momentum. And with the Asian market growing at an annual rate of 10 percent, the outlook for Valmet Automotive is promising.