In the autumn of 2013, ATA Gears had the great pleasure of receiving the Subcontractor of the Year award, and now is a good time to take a look at the world in general, from the viewpoint of a subcontractor. For our part, we can say that the position has remained fairly stable, in other words, no enormous changes have occurred in our operating environment. At the turn of the year, we noted that we were still on the growth-path, which had enabled an improved result over the previous year.

We function well in the global marketplace and expect that this year, 2014, will bring increased competition, meaning that even harder work is required to maintain growth. Our answer to increased competition is self-development. This includes more intensive cooperation with our customers and our own subcontractors. Without investment, it is not possible to keep up development, and our biggest challenge during the year will be the launching of a modern and better-automated heat treatment plant. Our investments also comprise new machining tools.

The customer base of ATA Gears consists of a vast selection of corporations operating within a wide industrial range, who utilise spiral bevel gear. Our customers include propeller manufacturers from the marine industry, together with manufacturers from the mining and excavation as well as power transmission plant industries. Economic predictableness has become harder in all areas, and it is somewhat difficult to make any reliable forecast for 2015. Many industries have felt the downtrend for some while, and the more optimistic of us at least hope for an upward turn in 2015, if not before.

In times such as this, suppliers must fine-tune their own processes as far as concerns supply guarantee and quality. As part of operational development, improved safety levels and environmental care also require continued betterment. Once the basics are in hand, then service attitude remains the decisive factor. In short, this means keeping any promises made and straightforward collaboration, where the collaboration partners carry each other through thick and thin.

The general economic outlook for the next few years is that the growth of China will not continue in the same category in terms of investment and consumer goods, which accelerated worldwide demand. Equally, in Europe, the Russia-Ukraine situation is not going to have a positive effect as far as the potential of increased exports to the East are concerned, at least not in the short-term. Hopefully, the situation will settle down soon.

We operate mainly in the export business, so the modest economic situation prevailing in Finland has somewhat less impact on our company. However, no doubt we all have reason to consider how we can bring Finland back on the upward trend again. We should have the courage to develop our know-how and make more investments. It is clear that we must increase our exports. We should learn from each other, with more networking, and participate in internal and external cooperation, adopting more of the positive and less of the negative attitude. Meanwhile, it is worth remembering that trade never stops. Without orders, there are no results.

Antti Kontiainen
Ata Gears Ltd.

ATA Gears sells, designs and produces spiral bevel gears for demanding marine and industrial applications worldwide. ATA was established in 1937. The company headquarters is located in Tampere, Finland. ATA has personnel of 216 people. Net sales in 2013 were EUR 48 million. Exports are 65% and the company’s annual production is about 8.000 spiral bevel gear sets in 2013.