Finland's centenary celebration this year gives us the chance to look into our own history too. Walki is no longer just about packaging materials.
Finland now enters into its 100th year as an independent nation, the country can look back at a fascinating journey that has beaten the odds several times. The country’s 100-year-old history as an independent nation is closely tied to several companies’ evolutions. Walki is one of them. Slightly younger than Finland, the 86-year-old company has been transformed from a local packaging company into a highly international materials science company.
The company founder, Rudolf Walden, was instrumental not only for Walki’s history but also when it came to creating and shaping the independent nation. He founded the Paperituote plant in Valkeakoski in 1931.
Since then, Walki’s journey towards an international company has involved different tosses and turns. The company was part of the Yhtyneet Paperitehtaat company (now UPM) and in 2007 Finnish investment company Capman became the main owner. The company has gone from being a packaging company (one of the first in Finland) into a diverse materials company present in all markets crucial to today's way of life. Today Walki is a leading producer of technical laminates and protective packaging materials, specialising in the production of fibre-based, intelligent, multi-laminate products for the various markets.
Looking beyond Finland’s borders has always been important to the company.
"Walki was very early on internationalising the company. We opened our first plant abroad in Steinfurt, Germany, in 1979," says the company's current CEO Leif Frilund.
The paper and forestry industry has been instrumental in putting Finland on the world map. But as globalisation and digitalisation has changed the game, a lot of companies have had to change tack. Finland's fondness of technology has come in handy. Today Walki is more of a technology company than anything else with innovative products for the construction, packaging and still also the paper and board industries.
One thing that hasn't change for neither Finland nor Walki is the respect for nature. In Walki's early days it was about converting wood fibers into packaging materials.
"The Finns have always turned to the forest for food and shelter. This has laid the foundation for a deep respect for nature"; says Frilund.
Today sustainability and resource efficiency can be discerned in every aspect of the company.
"We still need to live in accordance with nature", he says.