February 28, 2013

Onninen Oy - a hundred years of Finnish family business

February 19 saw the passing of 100 years since Alfred Onninen founded a plumbing contracting business in Turku in 1913. In those ensuing 100 years, Onninen has grown into a major company in technical trade under the ownership of the same family, and now serves customers in eight different countries.
Since 2000, the family business now in its fourth generation has been run by Maarit Toivanen-Koivisto, having succeeded her father Erik J. Toivanen, her grandfather Martti Auriala and her great grandfather Alfred Onninen.
”Good relations with customers and suppliers are key contributors to Onninen’s success and grand old age. The motto ”you can’t succeed alone” adopted about 20 years ago is more topical today than ever. In our centenary year of 2013, we are undergoing a stage of strong development and reform. We are endeavoring to improve our customer service and to build closer and more sustained cooperation with our goods suppliers,” says CEO Timo Mänty.
From contracting work to an international wholesaling group
The contracting work begun in Turku was expanded to Helsinki in 1927, which became the head office of the newly-established company, Vesijohtoliike Onninen O.Y. In the 1920s, the company began wholesale activity, which as early as the 1930s surpassed the contracting business in terms of turnover.
In the 1960s, business expanded nationwide and also entered the field of ventilation. In the 1970s, Onninen commenced electrical wholesale and contracting. The first outlet operating on a self-service principle was opened in Hämeenlinna in 1983.
Onninen’s process of internationalization began in the 1990s with project exports, and operations expanded by setting up new offices abroad and acquiring companies in the Baltic countries, Russia, Poland, Sweden and Norway. By the turn of the millennium, Onninen has become a provider of total material services for its customers and a company operating extensively in the Baltic region. As early as 2002, more than half of the €1 billion-plus net sales of Onninen Group were generated from business taking place outside Finland, and more than half of the Onninen work force worked in a country other than Finland.
Towards a new century hand-in-hand with the customer
Thanks to its comprehensive network covering 135 sites, in 2013 Onninen is close to its customers in all its countries of operation, taking local needs into account.

”In many cases, the market is not global or even national but local, even specific to individual districts. We take this into account in our services and product ranges, says Martti Forss, Senior Vice President of Onninen Finland.

Group Communications Manager Reetta Hiltunen, reetta.hiltunen@onninen.com,  tel. +358 (0)40 520 9381

Onninen provides comprehensive material and information flow solutions to contractors, industry, public organizations, technical product retailers and suppliers. We are a family-owned company and have operated in the industry since 1913. We have 2,800 employees in our Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Polish, Russian and Baltic operations. Our net sales for 2012 totalled EUR 1.6 billion.