OC-SYSTEM at 30 // Managing Director Riku Räisänen: “That comment crystallized the purpose of my work”

To celebrate OC-System’s 30th anniversary, we are publishing three articles looking at the company from different perspectives. In this final article, our Managing Director Riku Räisänen describes how we got here and what can be expected in the future.

“OC-System’s 30-year run has been a unique one, as all company stories are. This story is made unique by the people: our personnel, customers and cooperation partners. Although our employees usually have long careers at OC-System, dozens of people have played their part in the OC-System story throughout the years. The past thirty years have seen us carry out around 15,000 projects around the world. And what is particularly amazing is that our very first employee still works at OC-System.

OC-System’s business plan was created with support from the metal component manufacturer Rautaruukki’s factory in Hämeenlinna in a project where employees were invited to suggest new uses for steel. Pauli Räisänen (right) suggested easily assembled and disassembled steel element enclosures and canopies for construction sites. Production began in two industrial buildings in Joroinen in 1992. Riku Räisänen (left) became the managing director of OC-System in 2019, having worked in other tasks since 2005.

Decision to focus on domestic production has helped us overcome crises

The past years, 2020–2022, have been exceptional due to the coronavirus pandemic and global transportation and material challenges, not to mention the current situation in Ukraine. From the start, operating in Finland and acquiring all key materials from Finland has been a matter of principle for us. This has proved to be a good decision that has helped us overcome many crises. We are in the happy situation of not having experienced major challenges or disruptions in our delivery chain. We have also been immune to rising freight prices from Asia. For this we thank our long-term suppliers, such as SSAB, Paroc, Purso, and many others.

Our staff has luckily been spared the worst symptoms of COVID-19. Although, after two years of successfully escaping the disease, OC-System also had as many as 15 people on sick leave with COVID-19 within a two-week period.

This year, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changed the entire situation in Europe. In the past, OC-System has carried out projects in Russia, but only for the subsidiaries of our customers, never directly for Russian companies. We reached the conclusion long ago that direct sales to the Russian market are too challenging and risky for us. This is why we have only carried out projects for operators we know well.

This year, our order book has repeatedly broken our all-time record

The year 2022 has been record-breakingly busy. Our order book has broken our all-time record several times, at best exceeding it by around 30 percent. In terms of turnover, this is set out to be our record year. This is surely the result of a number of factors. Our customers have been proactive and ordered projects well in advance. Furthermore, challenges caused by the pandemic moved client projects forward, and a record number of these were carried out in 2022. This was evident in our turnover for 2021, which was more than ten percent lower than anticipated. In other words, this year will make up for last year’s lower turnover to some extent.

Next major investment prepared for 2025

Looking back at our history, it is clear to see that we have made a million-euro investment around every ten years, making sure our company remains competitive and keeps on developing. Using the same timeframe, we are already preparing the next major investment for 2025.

One large milestone in the history of OC-System was the year 2000, when acquiring our competitor, noise control company Meluntorjunta, offered us a new gateway into the paper industry. In the acquisition, OC-System gained new clients from the forest industry, a strong sector for Meluntorjunta.

Another major landmark was the development and construction of the OC10 line in 2005. The 2015 expansion and modernization of the powder coating unit was also an investment enabling growth.

“I am privileged to have been able to work with my parents”

Personally, the history of OC-System is a big part of my own history. When I was young, my father, Pauli, was quite intensively involved in OC-System operations. I also had summer jobs at OC-System. Those summers made me realize that production is not for me and I should focus on studying something else.

Even so, I started working at OC-System on April 1, 2005. I often tell the story of how, back in January 2005 while I was still working in Helsinki, I was talking to a friend from Pieksämäki at the gym. Jarmo asked me when I was going to go and work at my father’s company. “Never,” I replied with determination. In a similar vein, I asked Jarmo: “When are you going to go and work at your father’s construction company in Pieksämäki?” “Never,” Jarmo replied. Well, in summer 2005, Jarmo called to ask me how I was doing. I had started work at OC-System and Jarmo at his father’s construction company Lempinen.

The years have been interesting and varied. Looking back, I am privileged to have been able to work for the same company as my parents, although I rarely think about it in my day-to-day work. Work is work and personal matters are kept personal. For example, I sometimes find it funny when people ask me how my mother is doing. I feel like replying that I think she’s doing well, but she actually works as a buyer at this factory. Although, usually I just say she’s doing well.

“We provide our customers with safer and more comfortable working environments”

Another thing I am grateful for is the fact that I feel my job has a purpose. We provide our customers with safer and more comfortable working environments.

Once, after renewing a control room located between two tissue paper machines, an operator said that they no longer felt as tired after a working day. That comment crystallized the purpose of my work. Furthermore, the fact that we engage in trade and provide jobs for our people in Joroinen is an important thing. I have often said that I would be a truly lousy radio advertisement salesperson, because I would feel that the work had no purpose.

However, there have been some tough situations during the years. One was the death of a long-serving employee after a short illness. That person was a large part of the OC-System story.”

“The future appears somewhat unclear”

Now, as always in situations of great change, the future appears somewhat unclear. Our customers’ order books are full, but the war situation in Europe, as well as the price and availability of energy, may disrupt the markets in the near future.

The coming winter and the future in general will be characterized by the ever-worsening energy crisis. Never before have we at OC-System talked about electricity prices as much as we have this summer. We have compared our personal electricity agreement prices and those of new agreements, having been forced to renew fixed-term agreements. OC-System, like every one of us, must face the rising energy prices at some level. Electricity prices have already risen significantly, prompting electricity saving measures.

There has been a lot of talk about a coming recession facing Europe and possibly the whole world. We have been in this situation before. As a company, our only option is to develop our operations and skills to respond to future challenges. To quote Mika Waltari’s novel The Egyptian, tearing your clothes and sprinkling ashes did not help Sinuhe and will not help us either.

Large projects already lined up for the coming year

Many of our customers still have record-level order books, meaning that we can look positively towards the future. The situation is good or record-breaking for almost all industrial operators, at least within mechanical engineering. Common challenges include material availability, prices and challenges in recruitment. This means that the validity periods of offers have been shortened and even our delivery times are exceptionally long.

The future appears both interesting and challenging, as we do not always know what factors will end up impacting the operations of our company. We are doing our best to develop our operations, and I believe that we can meet all future challenges. OC-System is not yet ready, nor are the jobs secure, as there is still work to be done.

I would like to express my thanks to all current and past employees of OC-System. Likewise to our customers and cooperation partners. This company would not exist without you. You are a part of the reason this company exists.”

Riku Räisänen