Kari Lintuvuori is passing on skills and knowledge to future experts before retiring

Lead, serve, help. This principle has carried Kari Lintuvuori, now retiring, on his career from a helper to a foreman. In his 45-year career, mainly in Pansio, he has seen many changes in his line of work, and the business in general. Now he is passing on the know-how of a Service Advisor to future experts.

In August 2020, foreman Kari Lintuvuori retired from his job at Stairon’s aluminium department. He has not left Pansio, however. In his new role as a senior advisor, he helps the new supervisory staff. His long career has taught that tacit knowledge must be passed on to the successor.

“This team is a kind of a brotherhood – I couldn’t just suddenly quit it. It takes me seven minutes to drive from home to work. I need to drop in here every now and then to see how things are going”, Kari Lintuvuori explains.

Senior Advisor – part of Stairon’s strategy

Kari Lintuvuori now serves as a Senior Advisor at Stairon. It means that in his retirement, he is committed to the development of the operation as he passes on his expertise to younger  specialists of the future. The role of the Service Advisor and supporting it are part of Stairon’s strategy. Stairon has many experts with long careers, whose know-how is worth its weight in gold. This so-called tacit knowledge is something the company wants to foster.

Project Director Kalle Ahopelto, who has been receiving advice from Kari Lintuvuori, feels that the help of the Senior Advisor is especially important in his own work.

“It has been easier to join the group with an experienced and skilled person as a guide and advisor. I have received thorough answers to every question I have asked, often accompanied by a story from years past that touches upon the subject.”

Information related to carrying out projects is seen as especially helpful in pushing the work forward.

“The greatest benefit has been Kari’s knowledge of what we must and should take into consideration, or what we should do early enough before the start of the project”, Kalle Ahopelto says.

A man taught by his work

During Kari Lintuvuori’s career, his line of work and the business in general have changed dramatically. For example, in the 1970s, military service was tantamount to resigning, which is why the shipyard refused to hire him afterwards. But being a plucky sort of guy, he walked straight to the shop steward and ended up getting a job at the Pansio factory of Valmet Paper Machines. When there was no more work at the packing plant, Kari Lintuvuori asked the department engineer for other work.

“Much like Rokka in the war novel The Unknown Soldier, I asked if they needed someone who could do the job well. I went to Hall 6 where they needed help in welding beams that were 13 metres long.”

Kari Lintuvuori was interested in welding and he went on to complete the training of a welding advisor at Laitila. After that he was hired to weld sheet metal.

“The helper boy system of the 1970s was practical. You could see what kinds of jobs were interesting and you could learn on the job. Gradually, as my skills increased, I got to do the work on my own.”

The 1990s gave Kari Lintuvuori opportunities to work in projects both in Finland and abroad. Paper machines and wood dryers had to be installed and repaired.

In the 1990s Kari Lintuvuori also noticed inadequacies in work planning at the workshop.

“The products were more complicated, and the tolerances were stricter. Working methods needed to be more systematic, and this was achieved through work planning”, he explains.

The group produces the results

In the late 1990s and early 2000s corporate mergers and deals changed the name of the workplace a few times. First, with the merger of Valmet and Rauma in 1999, production was outsourced, and the name was changed to Metso Paper Turku Works. Then in 2009 Metso sold all the shares of the factory to Stairon.

“At that point, product-based teams were established and I was selected to lead one of them.”

Later he was named foreman. Kari Lintuvuori feels that as foreman, the input of the whole team is the most important.

“It’s the team that produces the result. And the work ethic here is high. The task of the supervisory staff is to supervise, serve, and help”, he says.

Kari Lintuvuori believes that his extensive career experience helped him as a supervisor.

“It is important to understand the big picture and to know how things operate in practice. Taking my own path has been important. The work taught me. During my career I had more than ten different kinds of supervisors, one of whom served as an example to me. I also wanted to be a good example and pass on the tradition”, he says.

Kari Lintuvuori (right) helps project manager Kalle Ahopelto solve challenges faced by a supervisor.

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Stairon in the newspaper Turun Sanomat: “A traditional machine shop can blossom into a service company”

Stairon was prominently on display in the newspaper Turun Sanomat on Tuesday, December 1st. Read the interview with CEO Timo Kylä-Nikkilä either at the paper’s website or below. Journalist Liisa Enkvist wrote the story.

Diving into the exhaust stacks of cruise ships – Stairon breaks free of its machine shop image

A traditional machine shop can blossom into a service company.

This is the belief of the new leadership at Stairon, located in the Pansio district of Turku. When the industrial machinery company Metso sold its Turku Works over ten years ago, it was sold to Stairon, which was founded for the deal. The Works unit had manufactured paper machinery components in Turku, and the newly founded Stairon had only one customer in practice. In the beginning, Stairon made equipment for the pulp and paper industry almost exclusively.

– These sectors are still an important part of our turnover, but now we want to focus more on the service sector alongside the traditional workshop operations, says Timo Kylä-Nikkilä, CEO of Stairon.

The company changed owners again a year ago. Canelco Capital, an investment company focusing on industrial SMEs, became a joint owner alongside the current CEO. Tapio Hussi, Stairon’s main owner and one of the company’s founders, sold his shares to the capital investment company.

Now that the company has operated under its new ownership structure for a year, it also wants to expand on the international market. Company management has also been completely restructured.

According to Nikkilä, things are going smoothly for the company, even with the impact of COVID-19. The company employs about 75 people. Last year saw 20 percent growth, and this year turnover is likely to remain unchanged at about 11 million.

– We have a strong foothold in many different industries that operate on different cycles. This helps, says Kylä-Nikkilä.

According to Kylä-Nikkilä, a traditional machine shop makes various components according to technical drawings and instructions from customers. In contrast, a service company considers what is the most cost effective and clever way to do things, solves customer problems, innovates, designs, maintains, installs, and repairs.

– For example, we have worked closely with a customer to plan a completely new product launch, Kylä-Nikkilä says.

Solving customer problems is what turns a machine shop into a service company.

– As an example, there was a problem that was encountered after sulphur scrubbers were installed on cruise ships. The ships’ exhaust stacks had begun to rust and leak. It is not easy to convince a cruise ship to dock, so we decided to train our employees to repair the exhaust stacks on a ship underway, says Kylä-Nikkilä.

After careful preparation, Stairon personnel – with the necessary certificates in their pocket – were lowered on ropes inside the exhaust stack to make the necessary repairs.

– It was pretty wild, but it shows that you can do anything once you put your mind to it, says Kylä-Nikkilä.

Stairon has customers in the pulp, paper, cardboard, foodstuffs, automotive, marine, and mining industries.

– The cardboard industry has experienced strong growth due to the take-off of e-commerce creating an increasing need for packaging materials. This has been quite positive for us, says Kylä-Nikkilä.

– The mining industry also seems to be gradually sticking its head up again, he says.

However, the market for ship sulphur scrubbers, for example, is relatively quiet at the moment. Scrubbers have been installed on cargo ships for years and years, but cruise ships are currently lying in port due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

BACKGROUND: From a machine shop to a service company

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Stairon responds to change: challenges itself and the company’s partners to develop mechanical engineering

Turku-based Stairon is undergoing a transformation from a machine and equipment manufacturer to an industrial service provider

The new management of the company located in Pansio is developing the company together with employees. The company, which has now been operating under the new ownership for a year, has a strong belief in the future even during the coronavirus pandemic. According to the company’s CEO, Timo Kylä-Nikkilä, the purpose of the Stairon reform is to boost the company’s growth on the international market as well.

‘We are already operating in a variety of industrial sectors round the world. We believe in our operations and want to develop them to serve the entire supply and value chain even more extensively than before. Our view is that, in the future, all industrial actors will need to deepen their co-operation further to make the entire supply chains flexible, functional and competitive. We want to be involved in this long-term work. We have a strong foundation for this, as we’ve been working with industry since 1964. When we bring a novel approach to the sector and combine it with robust competence, something exceptional will come about.’

Sales Manager Antti Reivonen, CEO Timo Kylä-Nikkilä, Production Director Hannu-Pekka Peräntie and Purchasing Director and CFO Joel Sjöberg want to reform the industry.

Stairon’s customer promise is: Challenging the obvious – together.  Timo Kylä-Nikkilä hopes that customers will also have enough courage to challenge Stairon to tackle their challenges.

‘We have the expertise and will to find the best solution. Give us a problem and we’ll resolve it.’

According to Mr Kylä-Nikkilä, diversification also shows its strength in the exceptional times we are currently living in.

‘When a company operates in more than one industrial sector, it rests on several pillars. With our internationally successful partners, we are strongly involved in, for example, the paperboard and pulp industry, which has been showing signs of growth,’ Timo Kylä-Nikkilä points out.

Personnel involved in the company reform

Stairon has kept its employees strongly involved in the company reform.

‘The personnel have willingly joined the reform process. We have robust professional competence acquired over several decades. We still need it and want to develop it further. The personnel are thus playing a key role as we transform ourselves into a service provider. When everyone is involved in solving the customer’s problems, we can achieve the best result,’ Timo Kylä-Nikkilä states.

Hannu-Pekka Peräntie, Production Director at Stairon, agrees with him.

‘The reform was welcomed with enthusiasm. People consider this approach to be human-centred, and in order to succeed we all have to proceed at the same pace and in the same direction.’

Joel Sjöberg, Purchasing Director and CFO, also believes in Stairon’s well-working ‘combo’.  According to him, Stairon is in an excellent situation, as the company has both long, robust manufacturing experience and young, highly motivated management that wants to develop the company.

Newly appointed Sales Manager Antti Reivonen believes that Stairon can offer solutions that the customer did not even know existed.

‘Of course, this also requires strong expertise and understanding on our part of the end user’s needs. And we sure have plenty of that in Pansio,’ the new sales manager believes.

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Something old, something new – Introducing Antti!

Antti Reivonen (MSc – Tech) joined Stairon as Sales Director and member of the company board on September 7th 2020. In addition to sales and new customer acquisitions, Antti is also responsible for the development of marketing and customer-specific sales processes.

Antti is excited about his new position:

“I’m so proud and very appreciative of the opportunity Stairon has given me in serving as its sales director. I have over ten years of work experience in the metal industry, especially in production and quality development capacities, and I think this experience is valued at Stairon.  My new position gives me an opportunity to challenge myself, and I bring my know-how and expertise in product manufacturing and improving producibility to Stairon and, in particular, its customers.

Stairon has made a quantum leap as a company over the past few years, with its youthful, motivated team, so I’m looking forward to tackling future challenges and working with customers.”

Antti was previously employed by Stairon in 2013-2016, when he worked on production development and quality management systems. Over the past 5 years, Antti performed a wide range of quality management and process development tasks at Sandvik in Turku, dealing with the manufacturing of heavy-duty mining machinery.

Stairon’s CEO Timo Kylä-Nikkilä is very happy with the choice of the new sales director and the return of an old colleague:

“It’s so nice to have Antti back in the fold, both as an old co-worker, but even more so because of his strong expertise. The sale of Stairon services requires a great deal of expertise in industrial production, thus allowing us to serve our customers with the highest standard of quality and develop optimally effective solutions for them.”

Welcome to our new website!

Let the good shine through.

Stairon received a makeover after the summer of 2020. This same desire for a new look also spread to our website. During the autumn, we will be updating our website with more up-to-date information on Stairon, employee news, and the successes we have achieved together with our customers.

So, now there’s even more reason to stop over here!