Here, in Finland, there is an unfortunately deep-rooted understanding that we are excellent in terms of technology and can create customised, superior solutions for customers in the global market; in other words, “the product sells itself”.

This sort of thinking may be a tradition from the “good old days”. It is not supported by the staff distribution of SMEs – how many SMEs have more sales persons than designers? Here are some important and simple questions:

  • How many sales persons do we have in SMEs who travel abroad for 100 days per year?
  • What is the number of travel days abroad of design engineers in particular?
  • Do we go and listen to the customers, or do we believe that we know what customers in Chile want and need? We definitely know that the Chilean customers will not come to Finland to buy our products.
  • How many companies, owners and boards of directors really want to grow through internationalisation, and how does it reflect in the company’s operations and investments?

Another persisting idea is that, amidst the writing desk or CAD software, we can innovate something new or create products and services that meet the preferences of customers in different parts of the world.

For future success and growth, it is extremely important that our engineers have a good understanding of marketing and sales, and the ability to listen to the customer. There is only one way to learn that – spending more time near the customer, i.e. in the customer interface.

When we examine the successful medium-sized growth companies that are in the public eye, they all have the ability and desire to internationalise. They have a strong sales team. They also have good products that are flexibly customised according to customers’ needs and preferences. The products do not have to be superior. However, it is good to have something – even something small – to help differentiate the company from the other big players operating globally.

These fairly simple principles have enabled Robit to grow, on average, by over 20% per year over the past 10 years. Robit sells its products to over 100 countries, and it has 160 dealers worldwide that it strives to consider as members of the Robit family.

The internationalisation and growth are important for the company’s development. At Robit, being able, through growth, to offer the personnel opportunities to learn new things, gain new experiences, travel and live abroad, develop personal expertise and challenge themselves is more important than increasing the turnover. We have concretised it like this: We offer the same things to a six-year-old child; learning new things, development and physical growth. This is considered perfectly natural for a child. It would be a good idea to do the same in businesses.

Finnish well-being is connected to these growth companies. That is where we all have the opportunity to assume our own role and take our step. To implement these simple things and renew the company means just a decision to be made.

Harri Sjöholm (M.Sc.)
Chairman of the Board
Robit Rocktools Ltd and  Swot Consulting Finland Ltd.

Sjöholm was named Finland’s Most Marketing-oriented Engineer jointly with Managing Director Mikko Kuitunen of Vincit Oy. Robit is a growth company with a strong recent history of internationalisation that specialises in wear parts and drill bits. Robit has sales offices in five countries and production facilities in Finland and South Korea. The internationalisation is executed through Robit’s own sales offices and its 160 Robit dealers.