Nearly 30 years of Subcontracting fairs – industries need encounters
Nearly 30 years have elapsed since the first Subcontracting trade fair in Tampere. Already the first event in 1988 attracted a good number of exhibitors and visitors. This was thanks to the well-organised marketing; it was a good idea to actively involve the rubber, plastics and metal industry federations in the event’s preparations and marketing. I have had the privilege of serving as a member of the exhibition committee almost from the very beginning, and for a total of 17 years, as the Chairman of this committee. Meconet Oy has participated in every Subcontracting Trade Fair. This trade fair is our company’s main marketing event in Finland.
Over the years, the Subcontracting fair has grown bigger, both in terms of exhibitors and visitors. The volume of over 17,000 visitors and 1,000 exhibitors has been reached in almost all of the 10 most recent events. The number of exhibitors has grown along with the expansion of exhibition premises.
In the early years, the event was usually spearheaded by large industrial companies such as Valmet Automotive, ABB, Valmet, Metso, Nokia, and shipyards. It has been interesting to observe the development of manufacturing chains and the companies operating within these chains. The 21st century has brought drastic changes. Finland has lost its competitiveness in production – so I have been told. Companies have moved operations away from Finland and, consequently, manufacturing networks have also moved overseas. Some Finnish subcontractors have also relocated their operations.
The nature of subcontracting has developed and become increasingly international. Globalisation has led to a significant decrease in the number of principal suppliers in Finland but, at the same time, some new operators have entered the Finnish market. However, there aren’t enough of them. Despite the positive development, the domestic subcontracting market has decreased and almost every finish subcontractor company must find markets outside the Finnish borders.
Fortunately, we still have Finnish companies that have kept their faith and continued doing the right things in order to remain competitive in the global markets, as well. A strong focus on competence development and keeping up with global technology trends, which supports correctly aimed investments, are keys to global competitiveness in the manufacturing industry. If you want to succeed in the global markets, you must set the bar high enough. You need to build relationships with global customers, as well as universities and research institutions representing the top knowledge in your industry. And you need to do this yourself. This is another thing typical of this day and age: in reality, you are on your own, there is no one to carry you. Success calls for a lot of hard work and also a little bit of luck. My advice to you is: Don’t make your manufacturing operations too difficult. Simplicity is the key.
In the changing world of today, companies and the entire society are facing future challenges that have proven to be difficult to understand and accept. We must keep work in Finland, if we want our current social system to function in the future.
The shipyard industry is an interesting example case. With sadness, we watched our shipyards slide to foreign (Norwegian/Asian) ownership. This was followed by the joyous welcome of German ownership. How is it possible to switch from defeat to victory so quickly? The change of ownership took place in the last minute. Maybe the owners’ values and business management skills had something to do with it? Maybe we, Finnish business managers, could learn something from this? Do we have our values and management skills in the right place? Are we making the right decisions in boards of directors?
Next year is the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence. How do we turn the course of this country upwards again? This question should be close to every Finn’s heart. I would personally like to thank Tampere Trade Fairs for the great work you have done for the manufacturing industry. The Subcontracting Trade Fair proves that, despite all the changes that have taken place in the world and the industry in particular, encounters are still very important. Doing things together and meeting partners and customers face-to-face are still core activities in the contractual manufacturing business and essential elements in building trust. I wish all exhibitors and visitors the best of success at the 2016 fair! See you in Tampere!
Industrial Counselor Timo Parmasuo is a member of the family business Meconet Oy’s Board. He was a member of the Subcontracting Trade Fair’s exhibition committee in 1990–2015 and the chairperson of this committee for the last 17 of those years. Parmasuo became the Managing Director of Oy Teräsjousi, a company established by his father, in 1981. In the early 2000s, Teräsjousi merged with four other Finnish metal-industry companies and formed Meconet Oy, a company specialised in springs, stampings, deep drawn products and qualified assembly works. Meconet has sites in Vantaa, Äänekoski and Pihtipudas in Finland, Tallinn, Estonia, Stockholm, Sweden, and St. Petersburg, Russia. More information: www.meconet.net.