As Mirka approaches its 80th birthday, CVW takes a backwards look at the surface finishing stalwart.
The journey to where Mirka is today began when engineer Onni Aulo founded Oy Mirka Ab in Helsinki, Finland, in December 1943. A three-year lease for the 388m2 original facilities was signed in 1945 and the business ended up staying there for a total of five years. However, due to the Second World War and technical problems, the first production of abrasives did not start until 1946.
Now headquartered in the heart of rural Ostrobothnia, Finland, the company has expanded with a network of subsidiaries that spans the entire globe, with Mirka (UK) becoming the first subsidiary to be established in 1979; and it is now celebrating its 80th anniversary.
The production of Mirka’s products moved to Kiitola in Jeppo in 1962. This move was the next logical step for the business because of how much the company had grown over the previous 16 years. Like any business, it was looking to open new sales avenues and this was achieved with the first international order of products from Iceland and then two years later with an order from the USA.
In 1973, the Kiitola site had been opened for 11 years but like any growing business there was need for expansion. As a result, Mirka built further manufacturing halls in Jeppo, where the current group office is still located. These facilities helped significantly improve the production capacity and overall efficiency of the business.
The late 1970s was also an important period for the business, with 1979 seeing the launch of the first subsidiary of the group – Mirka UK. This marked the launch of a systematic global expansion of the organisation which continues today. This is highlighted by the fact there are now subsidiaries in the USA, Germany, Brazil and India to name but a few.
In the UK, Mirka initially served the market through an importer but saw an opportunity to move into industrial processes from early hand sanding applications. The UK has been a leader in industrial trends and industry development and was an important early market for Mirka. The UK business has opened a national training centre in Milton Keynes, which enables the company to provide its customers with expert training and development around the abrasives, tooling and polishing solutions available in its portfolio. Attendees can increase their knowledge and skills, improve their workflow and expand the services they can offer.
The last 80 years has gone by quickly but as a business Mirka will continue to take advantage of new market opportunities and launch more innovative products that will ensure the end user has access to the right tools for the job at hand.