Mondi is a global leader in sustainable packaging and paper solutions. The Mondi Kuopio mill specialises in manufacturing high-quality, semi-chemical fluting. Manufacturing a top-quality containerboard product requires expertise in processing fibre, utilisation of wood as a raw material, and the expertise of skilled employees. According to Juha Koukka, Managing Director Mondi Kuopio, success requires not only talent, but also passion for performance, integrity and care for each other.
In the 1950s and 1960s, local politicians and decision-makers were concerned that the timber resources of North Savo would be moved to other regions for processing. The idea for the province’s own pulp mill was born, along with the slogan “a solution to North Savo’s unemployment and birch challenge”. The project led to the establishment of Savon Sellu Oy in Kuopio in 1962.
“A main reason to initiate the project back then was the amount of birch-covered land in North Savo. The goal was to explore a meaningful use of this valuable resource,” explains Juha Koukka.
Savon Sellu was owned by Metsäliitto (now Metsä Group) until 2005, when the company was acquired by Irish investor Dermot Smurfit. He renamed the company Powerflute, grew the business, made acquisitions and listed the company on the London Stock Exchange. In 2018, the mill was acquired by Mondi, expanding the global significance of the site.
Mondi continues to make progress on its previously announced €125 million investment to expand and upgrade its Kuopio mill with expected start-up by the fourth quarter of 2023. The major capex project will increase production capacity, strengthen competitiveness, improve safety and benefit the local environment in line with Mondi’s MAP2030 sustainability commitments.
The state-of-the-art equipment and process improvements will reduce noise and odour emissions as well as effluent emissions per unit of production. It will also mitigate wood loss in processing, boost energy efficiency and enhance occupational safety.
Koukka calls for the Finnish industry to work together to ensure and strengthen its competitiveness. Finland is a small market and its prosperity is based on export industries. Mondi Kuopio has built up various subcontracting networks for plant maintenance, chemical, raw material and fuel supplies.
“We are guided by the idea that we identify our core competencies and our partners focus on their strengths. Partnership has been crucial and essential to the development of the company. It pays to learn from others and to network,” says Koukka.
“When you recognize opportunities, you should be bold and determined to seize them and take things forward.”
Koukka also identifies one factor that unites successful companies – empowered people. Anyone can buy the same equipment, but what sets a successful company apart are its skilled and motivated people.
Providing purposeful employment for all employees in a diverse and inclusive workplace, and creating an environment that enables a positive work-life experience, valuing safety, health and mental well-being is the basis for Mondi Kuopio’s success.
Mondi Kuopio cooperates with many authorities in the region, for example in environmental matters, town planning and rescue operations. The Kuopio Region Chamber of Commerce and its networks are important partners for the company. According to Juha Koukka, Managing Director, Mondi Kuopio is strongly committed to maintaining the attractiveness of the region.
“We need to ensure that the Kuopio region has good logistics connections, such as highway and rail connections to ports. Regular air connections via Helsinki airport are also a clear strength. Because of the transport of raw materials, the lower-tier road networks must also be maintained in good condition to ensure that raw materials can get from the forests to the factory,” Koukka points out.
In addition to these networks, Mondi Kuopio works with various educational institutions.
Mondi Kuopio cooperates closely in recruiment with educational institutions in the region (Savo vocational college, Savonia University of Applied Sciences and University of Eastern Finland) and the employment service of the city of Kuopio.
“We will employ more than 30 summer workers next summer. In addition to this, we take interns from different fields throughout the year. Internships and summer jobs are one of our most important avenues in our recruitment,” says HR Manager Anssi Hietanen.
Text: Minna Akiola
Photos: Mondi Kuopio