Picture from left to right are Mike, Chris, Jim, and Matt
“Finland was a phenomenal experience…. from the Countryside to the city of Tampere which had a very historic feel to it. Finnish culture is very different from ours in the United States. Metso’s facility was like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for the Crushing world!” Chris Powers
Jim Levy, Vice President of Service Development & Sales, Matt Sweitzer, Division Manager, Mike Stavola III, General Manager – Southern Operations for Mellott, and Chris Power, Account Manager for Southern Machinery, were invited to Finland as one of several groups to participate in a factory tour, presentations and relationship building with our Metso Business Partner located in Tampere, Finland. Their trip began in DC, then on to Iceland, Helsinki Finland, and finally to Tampere Finland. One item to note is that while in Iceland if you try and force your carry-on bag into the carry-on sizing stand and knock it down, they will make you check your bag, just ask Matt, LOL. They were picked up at the Helsinki airport and taken on a 2-hour ride through the Finnish Countryside, where they were able to experience rolling wheat fields, and granite outcroppings. Fur and White Birch trees litter the countryside in between beautiful farms.
Juha Tiilikka, DMO Capital Sales Support Manager North America, for Metso was assigned to be their host, which was great because Jim had known Juha for many years. They could not have asked for a better host! Their first night was spent in Tampere, where they had a great dinner and were first introduced to Reindeer Steaks (phenomenal) and introduced to the Finnish Culture as they toured the city after dinner.
This bakery was from one of the oldest bakeries in Finland, 4th generation owners. And yes, they were as good as they looked!
The people were very friendly, spoke multiple languages and very welcoming. University (college) was starting and every year each class is designated with a color that remains their class color until they graduate. Students graduate from Highschool at the age of 16 and start trade schools at university.
The Finland Tampere photo was taken from the first place we went, our host Juha wanted to take us to a roof top setting to see all of Tampere and the rainbow was right after we sat down.
After the guys enjoyed the night in Tampere, they went to the Factory. Their visit started with presentations on many of the new Metso products and product improvements during the morning from various product managers and business line leaders. After lunch, and as a sidebar; most businesses in Finland have a cafeteria to serve the employees at a discounted price to avoid them having to leave the campus for lunch, and it is not like a sandwich type lunch, it is a full course meal, they took a factory tour and were able to observe how they built the Lokotrack Machines. They build 500-700 plus machines per year just at this facility. They were able to see the R&D building where they take rock samples and simulate crushing to test products for new product development, as well as used samples provided from customers all over the world to help identify which is the best crusher for the material they want to crush. The Loko in Lokotrack came from the fact that original machines built in the Metso factory were Locomotives.
Energy costs are very high in Finland, and the price of gas is $8.00 per gallon, so no one drives a car with an engine of more than 4 cylinders, and most use public transportation or ride bikes. Which is why everyone is so fit.
Tampere has such a rich history that Finland prohibits Metso from changing any of the buildings on the outside, they must stay as is, untouched, and unchanged. The rest of that afternoon was spent in open conversation, more presentations and relationship building. In Finland people are very straight forward and conversations need to be right to the point. Good or bad they want to hear it as it is.
Relationship building was taken to the Sauna where they had a great meal of Reindeer once again that was brought in by a caterer. The group was privileged enough to get to experience a very important part of Finnish culture, the sauna is for having a wash and relaxing. In Finland most residents use the sauna 2-3 times per week, The Sauna was 100 degrees Celsius, after being in the sauna for 15 mins or so they did the lake plunge where the water was 55 degrees Fahrenheit. What a shock, but one of the best feelings any of them had ever experienced. They continued both the sauna and lake plunge, for several hours while having great conversations, making long term friends, and building business partners. They were awarded a diploma for their completion of a true Finnish Sauna Experience.
The next day they toured customer sites around Tampere to see Metso Lokotrack machines in operation, and better understand how they use the machines in Finland, which is very different from what we do in the USA. Same principle, however far less demand. Rock is everywhere and most sites are started and ended with a specific project, whereas we establish a full-blown quarry to produce 100’s of millions of tons, they may only need 50K for the project and move on. On another site they had the opportunity to see an NW (NordWheeler) plant spread. which Metso is reintroducing into the market.
“Educational and unforgettable” Michael Stavola III
The group ended up in Helsinki for another fabulous dinner, where they all tried Kangaroo, which was also very good. After that they spent the evening touring Helsinki and continuing to learn the culture. Jim reflected on his experience and said, “We had a great time, learned a lot about Metso, made some great relationships, and opened lines of communication that will continue to help and grow our business relationship. We made a great impression and have been asked to come back as soon as we can.” Jim Levy.