Constructor Finland is racking up success
The Kasten brand name is part of the globally active Constructor Group, a leading specialist in the provision of all types of storage solutions, including racking, shelving, and automated carousels.
Situated in Lohja near the Helsinki metropolitan area, the factory covers over 20,000 square metres, and is capable of producing the following products: pallet racking systems, small part shelving, shop fitting, vertical carousels, fixed and mobile archive shelving, cantilever racking and storage automation.
The roots of Kasten spread back to the late 19th Century, when Hjalmar Henrik Kasten set up a tinsmith in Helsinki, manufacturing its first shelves in 1951. In 1989 the company acquired the Norwegian company Hövik-Stål to focus its attention on the global market. Under the name Kasten-Hövik, the consortium purchased the Constructor business operations from Electrolux in 1996, in the process becoming the Constructor Group. The company merged with the Dexion Group in 1999 under the direction of Aker RGI ASA. Constructor Finland Oy was sold out from the group to Nordea Capital in 2004. Finally, Constructor Finland was purchased by Altor Equity Partners, who affiliated the business back into the Constructor Group in 2007.
“We now have an ambitious and active owner, who will support Kasten’s and Constructror Group’s plans for future growth to solidify its position as one of the biggest players in Europe,” states managing director John Ahlskog. “The Group uses different brands across Europe – in Finland, we use the Kasten name; in Germany, our products are marketed under the Dexion brand; and the archive division in Holland also has its own brand name Bruynzeel. Localised brands are an important contributing factor for Constructor’s success in each of the countries in which it operates – it is important that we maintain the identity of historic brands. Constructor is a global business with a localised touch, and this is a factor we seek to stabilise.”
Commenting on the structure of the business in Finland, John is keen to highlight the role of Kasten’s European partners and agents: “On both the export as well as domestic markets, we always work with the best partners within the supply chain. Constructor Finland works with a number of dealers and suppliers, so we have to maintain a close relationship with them to ensure a better market coverage than our competition. Today, I think quality is of optimum importance, so our company always focuses on providing high standard solutions within the designs set by the racking and shelving markets. However, through extensive service and sales networks, we can really differentiate our business from the competition within the industry.
“The extent to how closely we work with our clients varies, because we deal with small companies like workshops, or large logistics and big industrial businesses,” John continues. “Mostly, our dealers handle smaller projects by themselves, so there is a degree of closeness required in these relationships, especially in regards to service contracts. However, Kasten works very closely with its larger customers in conjunction with some of its dealers, depending on their location. This means the dealer will complete tasks such as measuring and fitting of the shelving or racking units. We offer our clients complete turnkey projects, starting with planning, discussions with the customer, and finishing with the installation.”
Kasten manufactures three main types of machines: horizontal carousels, Paternoster vertical carousels, and lift systems. In the latter category is Kasten’s Tornado range, which is one of the most pioneering solutions on the market, as John explains: “The Tornado system uses conventional trays and pallets moved by lifts, but it has a number of features that are different to our competitors. For example, our machines are flexible and can be adjusted to a variety of heights, widths and depths, as well as being fully controlled by our specially designed computer programme. This allows many additional features to be programmed into the controls, and this adaptation to our customer needs and requirements is another of the system’s strengths.
“There are many reasons to install an automated system,” elaborates John. “It reduces the overall picking time, and narrows any potential margin for error – with the emphasis on ultimately making the customer more money. Kasten has recently developed the new Double Tornado design, which additionally increases picking speeds and reduces space required in a logistics centre. We are at the opening stages of installing these machines in Denmark and Finland, they are gathering quite a lot of interest, and we hope for them to become a good product for us in the future. We have doubled our turnover in the automated carousel sector since last year, as we are further increasing our turnover in the conventional racking and shelving market.”
The success of the Tornado systems, and of automated handling solutions in general, has encouraged the Constructor Group to look to further horizons, as John emphasises: “The market is still relatively cautious, especially in reference to recent general economic downturns, but there are still plenty of opportunities within the industry. For example, the Russian market is emerging rapidly, and we are delivering machines to Eastern European and Asian companies as well. Eastern Europe is a strong market for our racking and archiving products, and, as wages increase for physical manpower, automation will be a sector that will continue to grow in the future.
“The logistics industry is always developing, and new systems will always be required, especially in regards to automated processes,” John comments. “Kasten in Finland will focus on maintaining its profitability within the industry as it moves forward, and our target over the next three years will be to reach a turnover level of 65 million euros,” he concludes.
Constructor Finland Oy
Products: Storage and automated carousel solutions