Award winning Fortaco team

We are grateful to inform that Fortaco was awarded today with two Supplier Awards on Kalmar’s Supplier Day 2022 in Szczecin:

* Best Delivery Performance
* Best Innovation, concerning a steel structure and technology

We are proud over these recognitions and would like to thank Kalmar for their continuous trust on Fortaco!


Happy Birthday, Fortaco Estonia

The whole Fortaco team is wishing a great and successful 75th birthday of Fortaco Estonia!

We were honoured to have five Managing Director’s from Fortaco Estonia’s timeline to attend the celebration.


Turku Navigate 1-2 June 2022

The Fortaco team will take part in Turku Navigate 2022, a Nordic maritime industry event in Turku, Finland. The event takes place in Turku Fair Center on 1-2 June 2022.

Navigate is an international B2B trade exhibition for maritime, shipping, and shipbuilding professionals. Every other year it brings together the most important players in the industry.

Let’s get propellers rolling together and discuss how we can support your deck machinery business! You can find us on a stand B50.

Read more about the event here


My Father’s Tuxedo

What my father’s tuxedo and off-highway equipment have in common, and how the Smart Steel organization is fixing the asymmetry of marketplace information.

By Rafał Sornek

I don’t remember exactly what happened to my suit — whether I tore it or spilled something on it – but I was traveling on business and quickly needed a new one for a meeting. I dashed into an airport shop and came out with a black Hugo Boss. I don’t usually wear designer suits, but sometimes even engineers like to look good.

Three years later, my wife and I were invited to a black tie-optional party. About a week before the event she asked to see what I planned to wear. (Even wives of stylish engineers are like that.) When I tried on my Boss suit she just shook her head. While it was only three years old, it had become threadbare in places. She was going nowhere with me in that.

She sent me to the basement to retrieve the suit I’d worn to our wedding. It was my father’s tuxedo from the late 1960s. Not only was I married in it, but he was married in it. After 15 years in storage, it still looked good, though I’d lost a little weight since then and it needed to be taken in. The next day, the tailor was gobsmacked: “Where’d you find such fine fabric? This is designed to last generations!” He made a few alterations, I looked like James Bond, and my wife was proud to be seen with me at the party.

But this isn’t just a story about how good I looked in that suit. It’s about how off-highway equipment and tuxedoes sometimes aren’t much different.

Take the Hugo Boss and my father’s tux, list them both on eBay, and which one is going to command the better price? The Boss, of course, because it’s newer and most conventional pricing models, like straight-line depreciation, value that. (Yes, it’s also got a premium label.) But which is the better garment? Both my tailor and wife can answer that.

It’s the same with off-highway equipment. Take a look at the graph below representing three excavators that a dealer might have on hand to show you.

All three machine are eight years old, were serviced regularly, have nice paint jobs, and are in good working order. You can’t see any differences looking at them, and the dealer maybe doesn’t know or care about their histories. But they’re quite different machines when it comes to fatigue life: the white machine was used for hard rock excavation, the green one for levelling topsoil. If the dealer has that information, he’ll perhaps give you a slightly better price on the white one, but only slightly, because the conventional depreciation model still rules.

So which is the right machine for you? Since you don’t have the information in the graph, it’s impossible for you to know. But if you did have that information, and if you planned to work the machine hard, you’d buy the green one. If you needed the excavator for light farm work, you might negotiate a great price on the white one, and it would serve you very well. But the way things stand now, without information, someone may buy the white machine and be quickly disappointed.

All the information we need is currently collected by OEMs. Sensors on the machines send data, and the type of graph you see on this page can be produced. But it’s not necessarily in the interest of the OEM to share that information, since asymmetry is to their advantage. But individual machine owners could share the information, verify it using blockchain and IoT technologies, and eliminate the asymmetry. And that’s exactly what the Smart Steel organization is doing.

Smart Steel, working with forward-thinking OEMs, is making this information available, though not yet at a massive scale. To make the data really useful, we need you to join the cause. Whether buying a second-hand suit or excavator, knowing the fatigue life of materials is essential to making a good decision.

True, you probably don’t buy a lot of second-hand suits. Even if you are, choosing the wrong one may not have consequences beyond the disapproval of your spouse. But heavy equipment is another matter. Even the best intentions can go wrong when it comes to economics and safety.

Smart Steel is just now getting off the ground. It’s one big black tie-optional data party, and you’re invited. Won’t you join us?


Get Knocked Down, Get Back Up

Johanna Kuisma, Fortaco’s Group Financial Controller, loves contact sports. They’ve taught her a few things about how to approach her professional life.

It might have been the worst time to start a new job. It was March 2020 when Johanna Kuisma joined Fortaco, and the world was going into lockdown. At the same time, she was charged with not only getting to know a new organization, but to bring its financial accounting in house. Either might be formidable in normal times, but doing both remotely was intimidating.

In the first two years of her employment, Kuisma can count the days she's been at the office on her hands and not run out of fingers. "The hardest part is integrating with the team and the company,” she say. “At the office, you can ask quick questions. Where's this? Where's that? But it's hard to do that via Teams.” Luckily, she was able to lean on her teammate, Tuomas Ahvonen, with whom the ice was broken by exchanging GIFs.

Consolidation

Kuisma’s first challenge at Fortaco was leading the effort to consolidate its books. But having just joined the company, she was unfamiliar with the off-highway industry. (Her background was in the financial sector and the electricity business, which have slightly different reporting needs.) Corona meant she could not visit Fortaco’s factories and could not learn the business in the conventional way.

Gathering information from the field, as well as from the firm that had previously done Fortaco’s financial accounting, her task was to harmonize the books from all of Fortaco’s operations, an organization with a dozen offices and factories spread across eight countries with 2,800 employees.

“Harmonized data is peace of mind,” she says. “It means you can trust the numbers and you know where they come from. You can drill down and see what’s behind them. From the big picture perspective it’s the reduction of risk. You get things right the first time and meet the legal requirements. If we get a tax audit, we know there’s no problem. No fines, no bad publicity. Everything is in order.”

Getting knocked down

The consolidation project was supposed to take four months. But due to Corona complexities it took a year and a half. “How'd we do it? I'm not sure,” she laughs. “It was just something that had to be done."

Although it may have been at times frustrating, those type challenges are where Kuisma is most comfortable. She likes to get knocked down every once in a while, both in the workplace as well as in life.

She's been active in contact sports from age 12 when she took up Judo. She’s boxed, kick-boxed, and practiced Krav Maga, the self-defense system developed for the Israel Defense Forces. She also played American football. "I must like getting knocked down since I’ve been doing it so many years," she says. “I like pushing myself to the limit. I'm very proud of finishing this consolidation project which I thought would kill me. Yes, you get knocked down, but I know it’s possible to get back up every time.”

The next round

Kuisma’s next big challenge will be putting together a group accounting manual. Luckily, things are changing and she’s able to be at the office two to three days each week, to meet her coworkers and build more classic professional relationships, which will hopefully mean she’ll be knocked down fewer times.

Opening Kuisma’s LinkedIn profile, it’s clear she is not your typical modest Finn. She is described as ambitious. It reads, I’m a team player with no fear to take the lead. She calls herself The Finance Wizard. But there seems little wizardry involved. Perhaps more stubbornness and resilience. Knowing she’ll never give up until the job is done.


Twenty Years of Transformation

”I am a team player - to build success we need each other. We win business together, we gain experiences in business together.”

A highlight by one of the longtime Fortaco team member, celebrating his anniversary today. Peter Green, Sales Director at Fortaco Group, has spent the last 20 years of his career in partnership with Fortaco. Born and raised in Sweden in a city called Anderstorp he was surrounded by industrial, family owned companies the great part of his early life, spending his summer holidays working for them. Today, he is a very much respected, supportive, and reliable partner among his colleagues and Fortaco.

Time to turn minus to plus

Peter has a wide experience and background in sourcing and sales. His journey started in 2002, when the company was called Omeo Mekaniska Verkstad. Two acquisitions, and one decade later, the company reached its current form as Fortaco. Those years have been full of professional transformation in different departments, experiencing the great expansion and growth of the company, and also meeting his colleagues, with whom he still has a chance to work today.

Was his goal always to work as a sales professional? Not actually. After studying production technology in a university for two years, Peter was heading straight to sourcing, and found himself working as a purchaser twenty years ago. Those years were very beneficial, allowing him to gain wide experience in different departments. ”Rules are the same in sourcing and sales - you must build trust, connect to people, and communicate. Compared to sourcing, sales is just about turning minus to plus”, he smiles.

Due to changes of a production location in 2009, there opened a chance to switch into the area of sales, where Peter has successfully worked over the decade now. He is known as a colleague, always supportive and reliable, while delivering continuously great achievements in his area of expertise.

Meet the wolf

Peter has been working remotely from Sweden for a long time now. The past two years have introduced also to the wider audience the way of working remotely, but for Peter this independent, self-managed way of doing business has been very natural and effective. ”You could say, I am a lonely wolf running in the forest”, he laughs. Such a great image, but not too far from the reality actually. Wolves, being characterized as independent, loyal, and good at communicating, might fit well in the ways of describing Peter.

Obviously, some challenges have been presented because of rapidly changing situations during the past years. Despite of being independent, it has not been a walk in the park, as Peter has not met his colleagues nor customers face to face for two years now. Still, he has been able to introduce new customers and new business to Fortaco unit during the pandemic and spread positive energy to people working with him.

”Peter has a professional, customer driven attitude, and he takes responsibility of his customer cases and drives them smart and confident way until they are successfully closed”, says Erik Gustafsson, Sales Director at Wroclaw factory. Erik has been working with Peter since 2007. ”I find it very valuable to share thoughts and have discussions with Peter, both in good and tough times. He is a role model as a Fortaco persona and following Fortaco’s values.”

Adapt and enjoy

What challenges have taught to Peter are related to staying flexible and keeping eyes on price. Major transformations usually happen when we least expect them, guiding us to adapt to the new ways of problem solving and growth. ”There can be different roads to the same goal, and sometimes the road is not clear, you have to adapt to the situation and environment”, he points out.

Successful sales is about building trust, and in this case the energy of people working in it cannot be underestimated. For Peter, the situation is a beneficial as he really enjoys his work, meeting and contacting people, one way or another. If there were one advice he would like to say to his younger self, that would be the reminder of enjoying the work, as it is the way to keep energy and trust flowing.

Quality, professional colleagues, and a great strategy are the factors that also keep Peter motivated and engaged in his work. Clear, precise targets are something he values greatly and those make his work easier. ”The company and my time in this industry segment are interesting, and so is the Fortaco story - I believe in it and that makes it easy to sell”.

Meeting the current and future requirements

Customers are definitely close to Peter’s heart, and he has a proven way of ensuring their satisfaction: their demands, needs, and expectations must always be met, and if possible, exceeded. One of the most memorable and successful moment was when a client positively highlighted the end result. ”We delivered a cabin exceeding their expectations, the budget was kept, and delivery time as promised. This had not happened with any of their partners before”, Peter tells. ”Fortaco’s units are very committed about their production and what they are selling, and usually customers are very impressed about professionalism and quality.”

Peter is excited about the new investments, and the latest product specialization program, which enables to focus on different product segments. ”I think that is absolutely the right way to move forward, it will really distinguish us in the market.” With a specialized production line, the team is able to implement the same product for another customer on the same production line. He sees the ongoing development to have the best knowledge, competence, and manufacturing setup for different product groups, being very valuable for the future.

In the end, the future will remain a mystery, but it could entertain to ponder different options, goals, or plans for the next two decades. Peter has a quite laidback attitude about this, things will unfold as they should. ”Of course, drinking pina colada on a beach would be nice at that point!”

We thank Peter for his great commitment and growth over the years at Fortaco and wish him another successful 20 years with the work, people, and goals he finds valuable!


Welcome to Nor-Shipping

Fortaco team will be taking part in Nor-Shipping in Oslo on 4-7 April 2022. The maritime and ocean industries meet every two years to showcase innovations which deliver competitive advantage to their customers. Nor-Shipping attracts thousands of participants and hundreds of world’s leading maritime companies.

Fortaco has a decades of experience in component manufacturing, as well as ready assembled steel structures for leading OEMs in deck machinery, marine engines, and different energy solutions. In 2021, Fortaco expanded its footprint, we have a factory in Gruza, Serbia offering deck machinery and marine cranes. Winches, a-frames, and cranes are products which are familiar to the Gruza team.

We will participate in Nor-Shipping for the first time, you find us in Hall E, stand E02-19.

Welcome to meet our crew on 4-7 April.

Read more about Norshipping here


Forward Forever

Customer service is a key priority at Fortaco, and we are happy to have in our team very skillful people, who are committed to this and have a great understanding of its importance. This time our eyes are on Kurikka factory in Finland, where the world-class vehicle cabins are manufactured, and Sami Kuusisto, Production Planner is working.

Sami has over decade of history and partnership with Fortaco. His journey started as an external worker in cabin assembly, and before his current position he worked as a supervisor and purchaser at Kurikka factory. Sami’s background in various responsibilities ensure he has an extensive knowledge of production processes, which is a great advantage in fulfilling his position. He is a very skilled employee and holds Bachelor’s Degree in engineering, more precisely mechatronics/machine automation.

Customers always first

Production Planner has a key role in a contribution to secure a production flow and communicating with customers about their delivery process. Communication must be open and effective, as changes regarding deliveries might happen. Among customers, Sami is known as a trusted person, who is successfully having ‘all the plates in his hands’.

His competence as a contact person has been highlighted by customers who are grateful for his excellent customer service and communication skills. He has a great ability to understand customer’s needs, which is the key factor when developing the service. ”For me, it is a priority number one to answer customer’s inquiries first, everything else comes afterwards”, says Sami, and he thinks this is the clear reason for his success in his position.

Growing potential

Fortaco is dedicated to the continuous development and improvement of people, processes and services. These are the same qualities that motivate and drive Sami in his everyday work and keep him engaged. ”The fact that processes are always developed further instead of just being satisfied with the current way of working is very encouraging”, he admits. He is very familiar with all the processes at Kurikka factory and sees there is still a lot of potential to progress forward.

Thanks to his systematic and accurate way of working, as well as intrinsic interest and expertise in the systems he works with, the development and progress of customer satisfaction has been shown as great results in surveys in Kurikka - thanks to Sami and the great team. ”I feel, production planning is definitely my area of expertise and I enjoy it greatly”, he is happy to tell. ”I find it very inspiring that with my input I am able to influence many different aspects in daily operations and witness successful outcomes”.

The Good Old Donald

Many of Sami’s activities outside of factory are gathered around his family. Wife and their two son keep him definitely busy, especially, older son's baseball trainings and games in which he loves to take part and see the development of his son's skills. If not on the baseball field, Sami can be found in the nature, fishing and jogging in a beautiful landscape of Western Finland - or reading Donald Ducks, the good old comic books. ”I have stored all the books I have received since my childhood”, he smiles. His order for, and interest in comics is still alive and well, and these days shared with his older son.

We wish Sami many delightful moments with his dear family - and of course Mr. Donald Duck.


Under the Hood at Kurikka

With both cars and factories, there’s often more under the hood than you’d imagine. Fortaco Kurikka Sales Manager Tomi Metsä-Ketelä demonstrates why.

Fortaco Kurikka Sales Manager Tomi Metsä-Ketelä has spent his entire life around vehicles.

It started with a moped at age 14. “My dad was too busy to fix it, so I learned to do it myself,” he says. He got his first car – a 1973 VW Beetle – at age 17, a full year before he could legally drive in Finland. In high school he worked as a tractor mechanic during summer holidays.

It was only natural that he’d study engineering at the university of applied sciences, graduating in 2002 and joining Velsa in Kurikka as an electrical engineer for Kalmar Cabins. By 2011, he was working as Sales Manager where his main focus was new customer acquisition. (The organization became Fortaco in 2013.) "We work with companies all over Europe to find new customers, and it helps when you understand mechanics. In the cabin business, it starts with design and development, and usually the tech team steps in early in the discussion. It’s quite common that our customers and visitors are also building things in their free time, so there’s a lot of common interest at the lunch table."

A Mercedes inside a Chevy

"One of those visitors was a German gentleman I was hosting," says Metsä-Ketelä. "He'd worked for Mercedes practically his entire life and late in his career joined one of our suppliers. We finished our meetings late in the evening and I offered him a ride to his hotel. Walking into the parking lot, my car was the only one left on the lot and he was already laughing. I had a 1980s Chevy station wagon with a sticker on the rusty bumper reading Made in Detroit by Idiots.”

“When I started the car he knew immediately it wasn't a stock V8 gasoline engine. He insisted we pop the hood, and he saw a Mercedes two-liter diesel with a tractor turbo on it. I'll never forget the look on his face and him laughing until he cried. But the car gave me what I needed: enough horsepower from the rear wheels, reliability, cheap to own and drive. I drove it three years and it ran like a charm."

Kurikka surprises

Fortaco’s Kurikka factory also holds surprises. Before Fortaco acquired the Kurikka plant in 2013, it had a long history. Since its inception in 1936, it has carried the names of Velsa, Valmet, Sisu, Partek, Kone, and Ruukki. It once even produced snowmobiles.

"What surprises our customers," says Metsä-Ketelä, "is how modern and good looking our production facilities are. Part of the exterior was built in the 1930s as a sawmill and other parts were constructed later when production expanded. And there’s a new factory extension being constructed today." From the outside, the 14,800-square-meter facility that employs 240 can appear old fashioned. But, similar to Metsä-Ketelä's automobiles, open the hood and you'll see something amazing.

"We’ve spent a lot of time and money to rebuild the factory. When we moved the production of forest machine frames to the Fortaco Wroclaw unit in Poland, the production areas in Kurikka were completely renovated with new floors, new LED lights, improved ventilation, the walls and ceilings were painted, and a new automated welding line was installed. It doesn’t look like an old conventional welding factory anymore. It looks like a modern cabin factory.”

Serious investments have also been made in Fortaco Technology services. In addition to engineering services, customers are offered specification support, user experience studies, design and solution concepting, FEM and CFD analysis, plus virtual and physical prototyping. The factory's new cabin tech hub with brand new prototype facilities have been running for three years now. There are isolated welding- and assembly areas to enable a safe working environment, the right quality starting from the prototype, and to ensure secret projects stay that way.

There's also a modern conference room with a built-in prototype cabin showroom. "Prototype reviews often mean sparks are flying," says Metsä-Ketelä. "But in our showroom you can sit down, have a coffee, and take all the time you need to examine and review your new cabin in a safe, clean and peaceful environment. This will be the cabin on your vehicles for years to come — so don’t rush."

Never give up

Another surprise to many is what a long-term business proposition cabin production is. From the time Metsä-Ketelä has coffee with a potential customer, it can take two years before a deal is done. "Add another couple of years for product development and starting production, and it can be years before you see results on your P&L,” he says. “People change jobs during the time it takes me to win a new client. But that's how the cabin business is.”

With product lifetimes of 10 to 20 years, cabin business partnerships are long term. And so are the Kurikka employees. “Our teams are dedicated and employee turnover is very low. People stay 20 years or longer,” he says. “This long-term approach allows us to have the motto, 'Never give up.'"

Metsä-Ketelä isn't about to give up, because he’ll never run out of curiosity about mechanical objects. Three years ago he rented fatbikes for a wintertime customer event and was thrilled by this new experience. "Right after that I bought a normal fatbike, and then I built it out with an electric kit. Since then I have built several electric fatbikes and bought several factory-built bikes since my family and friends are now into this hobby, as well. Of course the idea is to keep upgrading the bikes we ride. My latest project is a carbon fiber full-suspension fatbike which I assembled from the frame, carefully selecting all the right components. Currently, I’m exploring 3D printing to build a battery of my own design."


FORTACO BUISARD CABINS - transaction closed

On December 14, 2021 we announced a strategic alliance, Fortaco Group and Buisard Cabins have joined forces and established the Fortaco Buisard Cabins entity within Fortaco Group.

We are happy to inform, the transaction has been closed on 4 January 2022.