VAK’s founder is granted honorary title of industry advisor
On 1/12/2017, the President of the Republic of Finland has granted VAK Oy’s founder, Lassi Virtanen, the honorary title of industry advisor.
Lassi Virtanen’s success story began at his father’s blacksmith shop, where he enjoyed himself already as a child, and his father attached a handle to the shop door for little Lassi, so that Lassi could come and watch his father work, whenever he wanted to.
Lassi’s father died at an early age, when Lassi was 12 years old. He did, however, have time to ingrain the value of work and diligence in his son. At the age of 19, in 1972, Lassi Virtanen opened a body shop in the same premises, which in the past 45 years has become one of the Nordic countries largest manufacturers of heavy duty transport equipment.
This year VAK Group’s turnover is nearing 80 million euros, and it employs approximately 500 people. The company is a market leader in Finland for insulated cargo compartments and trailers. The subsidiary VAK Huoltopalvelut Oy services and repairs transport equipment in eight localities around Finland. In addition, VAK Group has a service location and a sales company called VAK Sverige in Sweden. Approximately a third of VAK’s turnover goes to export.
The value of work that was learnt already as a child, diligence and the desire to serve customers in the best possible way have always developed Virtanen’s company. Throughout its history, the company has strongly personaified to Lassi Virtanen, whose skills together with his Gyro Gearloose type inventiveness and creativity have guaranteed functional solutions for all types of logistics needs.
Apart from the 1990s economic depression years, VAK Oy has grown at a steady pace. The profits gained from business operations have not been celebrated, but instead they have been used in benefit of the company by renewing the production facilities and machinery, as well as by developing the service network. The long recession in the 2010s did not discourage Lassi Virtanen either: while others slowed down with their investments, he developed production and built e.g. a body element production plant that in terms of Nordic countries, is one of a kind. Due to the investments, the company has managed to grow to its current scale.
The village blacksmith shop, where everything began, remained in VAK’s yard area until last year, when the growth of the production plant forced the historical building to be demolished. The end of the shop and the legendary door together with its handles were preserved, and they continue to welcome visitors to the plant area.
Regional and national influencer
Lassi Virtanen’s national work to develop transport equipment and to create new innovations is well-known in the industry. Lassi Virtanen and VAK have had a significant role, e.g. in the development of High Capacity Transport (HCT) articulated vehicles. The articulated vehicles, that have a higher capacity than current ones aim to reduce transportation costs and reduce harmful environmental effects.
VAK Group and Lassi Virtanen have been granted Southwest Finland’s Provincial Entrepreneur Award in 2008 and the Entrepreneurial Spirit of Turku Award in 2010.
At Rusko, VAK Group is clearly the locality’s largest employer. Lassi Virtanen and VAK Group have had a major influence with their growth orientation on the development of Rusko’s local economy and corporate atmosphere. Virtanen has been involved in founding the entrepreneurial association of Rusko and Vahto in 1981, and operated as a board member of the association until 1990.
The President of the Republic of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, granted the honorary title.