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West Welding 40 years

This year marks the passage of 42 years since the activity began on the premises of West Welding Ltd in Teuva. Over the course of the four decades, West Welding, with its roots in the foundation of KPA, has grown from a small workshop into a respected and internationally recognized player. In honor of West Welding’s long and eventful history, it’s time to take a look back and see where it all began.

How It All Started

The story of West Welding began in 1981, when Teuva Machine Rental Liukkonen & Harjula moved to the current West Welding premises, where the first part of the hall constructed by the Teuva municipality had been completed. At the same time, the company was named KPA Lämpö Ltd, with a name reflecting domestic fuels. Hannu Liukkonen became the CEO of the company.

KPA Lämpö Ltd manufactured chimneys and storage tanks, and also carried out installations of district heating pipelines. Later, the company expanded its operations to include the production of pressure vessels, heating centers, and small industrial pipeline installations.

In the late 1980s, the company also experienced growth through acquisitions. KPA Lämpö acquired Porvoo-based Laiteasentajat Oy and Tampere-based Insinööritoimisto Laatutesti Oy. With this expansion, the company’s workforce increased, and in the early 1990s, the corporate structure was altered by establishing KPA Unicon Oy in Pieksämäki. Pekka Kovanen became the CEO and shareholder of the new entity. Additionally, KPA Teollisuusputkisto Oy was established. Despite the rapid growth, the company was not immune to the economic downturn and recession of the 1990s. KPA Lämpö Oy went bankrupt in 1992.

Establishment of West Welding Ltd

In 1992, Pekka Luhtala, Jorma Nikitin, and Kari Aho founded West Welding Ltd. The former production manager of KPA, Matti Hemminki, became the CEO of West Welding, and he proposed that he would become a partner in the new company. Based on his suggestion, West Welding rented KPA Lämpö’s machine shop, and machine shop operations continued.

Golden Years of the 2000s

From the very beginning, the new company, West Welding, experienced high demand and grew rapidly. High-quality pressure equipment sustained industrial and energy sector operations, even reaching international markets.

In 2006, West Welding received recognition when it was awarded the Regional Entrepreneur of the Year.

Change of Ownership for West Welding

In 2007, the turnover reached 20 million euros, and the company employed 80 people. At this point, the capital investment company of the Osuuspankki Group acquired the majority of West Welding through Viafin Ltd. As a result of the business deal, Pekka Luhtala temporarily assumed the leadership of West Welding, and the search for a new CEO began.

West Welding continued to secure significant contracts. In 2009, the company signed a four-million-euro deal with Andritz for the renovation of Södra Cell Varö’s evaporator, a project focusing on environmental sustainability.

In 2011, West Welding consolidated different functions under various companies. Viafin Process Piping Ltd and Viafin West Welding Ltd were established alongside West Welding. Viafin Process Piping focused on pipeline and on-site installations, while West Welding mainly concentrated on machine shop production. This new organizational structure streamlined operations and created a clearer and more flexible division of labor.

Large Projects, Challenging Years

West Welding continued to secure significant contracts and undertake major projects, such as a significant deal with UPM Lappeenranta’s biorefinery in 2012 and one of its largest projects in Äänekoski from 2015 to 2016, encompassing both machine shop production and installation.

Despite these major deals, West Welding’s financial performance weakened from 2010 to 2018, and the company accrued debts.

Manor Becomes the Majority Owner 

In 2019, West Welding took a new step as Manor Oy, part of the Österberg Group, acquired the majority of the company’s shares, with Viafin Ltd remaining a minority shareholder. Concurrently, the existing employees had the opportunity to purchase shares in the company, strengthening the sense of collaboration. Janne Halonen continued as the CEO of West Welding.

This new phase brought forth fresh opportunities and resources for West Welding. The company aimed to sustain its successful business while prioritizing employee well-being and development.

West Welding in the 2010s

The maritime industry, particularly its green transition with the use of LNG, brought numerous new opportunities to the company, generating fresh demand for its products. West Welding supplied several LNG tanks for passenger ships, cargo vessels, and specialized vessels, including the latest supply to Tallink’s new passenger ship MyStar in 2020.

In 2021, West Welding once again made headlines with its participation in an innovative carbon dioxide capture project in Norway. This project was a step towards the company’s goal of becoming a provider of environmentally friendly technology.

In 2022, an investment was made in the Teuva premises, as a new surface treatment hall was commissioned. This investment improved the production process by reducing lead times.

West Welding 40 years

West Welding 40 years

Looking Toward the Future

Today, West Welding’s operations are on a stable foundation. The revenue growth is steady, and the company continues to pursue moderate growth. The commitment to providing comprehensive services to customers without compromising on quality remains steadfast. Simultaneously, emphasis is placed on employee well-being and development, as the company strongly believes that a committed and motivated workforce is the key to success.