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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