We must build resilience for the future
2022 was a really good year for Mirka and I am happy that we managed to keep our profitability at the same level as before. However, it cannot be said that the year was particularly easy for us, given all the upheaval that took place in the world. In addition to the energy crisis and inflation, we were affected by the aftermath of the pandemic and in particular by the war in Ukraine.
February saw the start of a full-scale war of aggression in Europe, something few of us had thought possible. Although the sanctions against Russia do not apply to sanding products, it soon became clear to us that we had to withdraw from the Russian market, not least for moral reasons. By May, we had al-ready closed down the operations and sold off the stock. Mirka’s operations in Russia accounted for only a few per cent of our total sales, but considering that we also lost planned growth in Belarus and Ukraine, the loss was not insignificant.
The other major world event last year, the Covid-19 pandemic, also affected us in many different ways. China’s strict Covid policy disrupted supply chains and this meant that we had to hold larger stocks of raw materials, which of course tied up capital. At the same time, the situation also led to a shortage of components, which delayed some investments.
I believe that in the future we need to stay focused and become even more resilient than before, with more robust processes, longer lead times and larger stocks. If the world around us is chaotic and unpredictable, it is all the more important that we ourselves do what we can to cope with the shocks. It costs, but in the end any disruption costs even more.
Apart from the supply problems, the effects of the pandemic began to subside in the spring of 2022. It was with great pleasure that we were able to return to a more or less normal working situation. Remote working worked well and has many advantages, but for a working community to function optimally, colleagues also need to meet face to face.
One thing we have been working on for a long time that really hit home last year was our investment in digital sales channels. We launched our new website, which is packed with integrations and opportunities for online sales and distribution. This allows us to reach both our existing customers and also potential new customers outside our physical distribution networks.
If the pandemic had any positive consequences, it was that digital solutions got a major boost, and I am proud to say that Mirka is at the forefront of our industry in terms of digitisation.
Another interesting development with the future in mind was Mirka’s acquisition of Flexmill, one of the very few companies in the world specialising in automated surface finishing. By far the majority of Mirka’s products are currently used in manual working processes, but in the future robots will do more and more of the work. To permit us to develop our tools and materials so that processes can be automated, we need precisely the kind of knowledge that Flexmill possesses.
Sustainability is another important future commitment on our part. Mirka has always maintained a high profile when it comes to environmental issues, but just before Christmas we reached a new level when we were appointed as the lead company for a Business Finland project aimed at finding new, more sustainable production methods for a circular economy. This gives us a unique opportunity to shape the future market by helping define what the green transition means for our industry.
As the icing on the cake of our sustainability efforts, we have been able to fully launch a new manufacturing process for abrasives with over 90 per cent lower energy consumption than the traditional method. The secret is new technology in which hardening takes place in a chemical process instead of by heating. At the same time, we have also launched the new Galaxy family of products, which are made with the new technology. Galaxy is a product that I am convinced will take Mirka far into the future. We already know that many of the chemicals used today will inevitably be phased out in the future, and we are now even better prepared for that development.
Stefan Sjöberg, Head of Division, Mirka
Mirka – The technology leader in sanding solutions
- Mirka offers a wide range of total solutions for surface finishing and precision sanding.
- At the turn of the millennium, Mirka launched a revolutionary method for dust-free sanding.
- Ever since, the company has been the technology leader in its industry, and Mirka continues to invest heavily in product development.
- In addition to abrasives, Mirka also offers sanding machines, which have won awards for their ergonomics and innovative design.
- Mirka’s headquarters and largest factory are in Jeppo in Ostrobothnia, and production takes place in Finland and Italy.
- The company has many sales companies in different countries, and almost half of its employees work outside Finland.
Countries in which Mirka has subsidiaries
Baltic States, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, USA