Industry, and especially mechanical engineering industry, has a long history spanning more than 200 years in Varkaus and its surroundings. Even though industrial history spans back a long time, even today Varkaus is home to an international business hub of modern activity and high technology. This business hub makes Varkaus a very special city, even at the global scale, because nowhere else in the world is there such an export-wise significant technology industry hub and collaborative network.
Warkaus Works Oy trusts and invests in Varkaus
One of the large corporations with trust in Varkaus is the Austrian ANDRITZ Oy. Its subsidiary ANDRITZ Warkaus Works Oy is building new industrial facilities of 13,000 square meters in the Hasinmäki district of Varkaus. A specialist in demanding boiler plants, Warkaus Works intends to move into the new facilities in autumn 2022. The company’s current premises are also located in Varkaus.
“From our point of view, the old premises no longer had sufficient potential allowing us to keep up in the internationally and globally competed sector. We must keep up with the cost competition. No pity points,” says Antti Kettunen, Managing Director of Andritz Warkaus Works. In fact, the new industrial premises began to seem absolutely necessary for the company’s future.
Convincing the Group management required careful planning
Once a bright strategy regarding the premises in Varkaus had been polished within Warkaus Works, Kettunen presented his view of growing the operations in Finland to the company’s owners and management. This requires thorough planning work, and a lot of effort went to the background work. “We conducted a detailed investigation into the factors that hindered development in our existing facilities and how we could make adequate technological investments to achieve change in new premises here in Finland,” Kettunen explains.
A giant leap had to take place in productivity to keep the production of Warkaus Works in Finland, but fortunately, the reliability of the North had already been identified at the Group level. “After all, Finland is largely known for reliability, and for everything going smoothly. The management already highly appreciated our operating model of cooperation and taking responsibility. The ability to provide quality, reliability and special expertise are the key factors that were already known,” Kettunen says.
According to Kettunen, it is special expertise that generates the added value that will allow Warkaus Works to operate going forward. “You can get bulk production from low-cost countries, so it was reasonable to build the development program around an area of special expertise so that productivity and business could be grown in that area.” The decision on locating Warkaus Works’ new premises in Varkaus was ultimately a strategic choice for the company’s owners.
The joint strategic intent of different parties got the wheels rolling
Once the decision to continue in Varkaus had been made at the Group level, Warkaus Works contacted the city’s management and Navitas Development Ltd.’s subsidiary Keski-Savon Teollisuuskylä Oy. “Varkaus understands the importance of industry, and the approach was focused on solving our needs from the very beginning. The process was long and included diverse options. Our need for large mechanical engineering facilities was so unique that the city finally made a political decision on their development,” Kettunen says.
“In practice, Keski-Savon Teollisuuskylä Oy will fund and develop new mechanical engineering facilities for us, and we – Andritz and Warkaus Works – commit ourselves to Varkaus in the long term by leasing the facilities. At the same time, we launched the biggest investment program in the history of Warkaus Works, introducing our expertise to the facility and starting to develop and growing the operation. This was far from obvious, because Finland was not the primary choice from the point of view of costs. However, this project will allow us to increase our productivity so that we will keep up with the competition in this respect as well,” Kettunen sums up.
The support from Varkaus has been strong, and the entire city has stood behind it. Navitas Development Ltd. has been responsible for the new premises of Warkaus Works on the whole, and its subsidiary Teollisuuskylä Oy has been Warkaus Works’ partner. Kettunen praises Navitas Development Ltd.’s Managing Director Jouko Laitinen and the organization.
This has been a cooperation with Teollisuuskylä Oy, but we should not forget that it also required the strategic intent of the city’s management, politicians and civil servants. We worked hard together, and things have gone smoothly and been taken care of. Jouko has skilled people in his organization, and they have provided their assistance in project planning, calculation and construction affairs.
The Varkaus spirit is a can-do attitude, networks and strategic intent
According to Kettunen, there is pulse and buzz in Varkaus, but also a kind of modesty. “There is an enormous amount of expertise in demanding tasks and problem-solving in Varkaus, but maybe this has not been talked about enough. Activity is fully international in such a small city, and it is not considered odd in any way. In practice, you can work in international duties throughout your career from school to retirement. There are also extensive collaboration networks in the Varkaus area, with employees moving around in them as well.
“The network has emerged with such a long history. The network provides all the services, and the diverse investment projects continuously create new ones. It is also the strategic intent, as partnerships are formed both locally in Varkaus and regionally in the Northern and Southern Savo regions.
Warkaus Works Managing Director Antti Kettunen encourages the Saimaa Data Park to come along. “Certainly, you can find all the prerequisites here – it is completely clear that the assistance and political will to make Saimaa Data Park a success story can be found here. We have company-level understanding of help and a business network, and also our chamber of commerce activity is international and insightful. We have a genuinely international operating environment ready waiting for you!”