Finland’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Mika Lintilä, officially opened the extension to Ponsse’s Vieramä factory on the 24 August 2018. Founded in the early years of the 20th Century as the Agrarian League, Finland’s Centre Party has traditionally found support in the nation’s smaller and more rural communities. There has always been a tendency for farmers, foresters and fishermen to align themselves with the Centre Party, but today the party’s support base is wide.

One core policy that has never been compromised by the Agrarian League/ Centre Party is that of decentralisation: it is a firm belief that both political and economic power should be spread as evenly as possible throughout the nation. Forestry and forestry-related industries still provide about one quarter of GDP and in the global market of wood products and timber, the minister’s words give an insight into the mindset of the current Finnish government.

“The most important indicator of the state of the economy is that companies are generating jobs and increasing employment in different parts of the country,” said Minister Lintilä. “Without a high level of employment we are unable to sustainably fund public services and benefits or encourage investments to be made for facilitating better growth.”

Mika Lintilä accepted that the government of the day had a duty to actively stimulate the investment process: “The government is responsible for ensuring the economic framework remains operative. This is the means by which companies can be prepared to make investments and employ more people and why job seekers and employees can be confident to find work and develop their skills.”

There followed warnings about the worrying trend of governments resorting to protectionism. A trading environment based on duties, tariffs and other disincentives will not, in the Minister’s view, engender growth in any national economy.

As for the Vieremä-based forest machine manufacturer, Mika Lintilä welcomed the financial commitment invested in the new facility.

“Over one hectare of robotics, 3D modelling and remote programming all raise Ponsse’s competitiveness to the next level. The constant development of processes, the world’s best forest machines and the best quality offered to customers all sound like excellent objectives. But I am certain that Ponsse’s true success is based upon strong values and fair play. That will always get you far!”

The factory investment is the largest in Ponsse’s history, expanding the production facilities from 2,700 m2 to 4,000 m2. Above all, the investment means a leap forward in terms of production technology. The new factory uses smart storage technology that enables a smooth flow of components to production lines. This has significantly increased productivity of storage logistics and reduced manual handling of components. The storage automation includes 15,500 storage places for small goods and 3,900 pallet places.

“The new factory will enable us to react more flexibly to changes in the market situation and ensure effective customer variation of Ponsse forest machines in serial production conditions,” said Juho Nummela, President and CEO of Ponsse Plc.

Chairman of the Board, Juha Vidgrén and Sales and Marketing Director Jarmo Vidgrén were also present, of course, but the Minister was welcomed by Chief Shop Steward Heikki Hiltunen. Heikki joined the Ponsse team a few years after the first machine was built in 1970 and has been with the company through the good times and, he admitted, through the difficult periods.

There was the time, Heikki remembered, when the engineers had produced a great design for a new machine. The plans had to remain on the drawing board for a full six months before production started. The cash flow situation was critical and the company was only able to survive by importing used machinery from Sweden and reconditioning it for the Finnish forestry contractors.

For Ponsse and Heikki Hiltunen it has been a long journey. He reminded all those present of founder Einari Vidgrén’s words: “Nobody is anything alone, but a good team can achieve a lot.”