One hundred years together and counting. Since it began in 1834, Wärtsilä has been at the frontier of engineering innovation.

One hundred years together and counting

2 min read

15 Mar 2017

Text

Anna Aistrich

Photo

Tim Bird

2 min read

15 Mar 2017

Text:

Anna Aistrich

Photo:

Tim Bird

Since it began in 1834, Wärtsilä has been at the frontier of engineering innovation.

Since it began in 1834, Wärtsilä has been at the frontier of engineering innovation. At first a small sawmill in Värtsilä, a village in Eastern Finland, it later transformed into an iron works called Wärtsilä, and its business marched along into the 20th century, just as Finland gained its independence (in 1917). Then, following the collapse of the Soviet Russian market, it hit financial trouble. In 1926, a young engineer named Wilhelm Wahlforss came in to restructure the company with unprecedented speed and efficiency, earning him the nickname Speedy Ville.

Foreign acquisitions were prohibited by law. So, confined to domestic expansion, Wärtsilä became a diversified conglomerate of some of the most iconic names in Finland, like the Arabia porcelain factory, Iittala glassworks and the lock and key company Abloy. 

During his 43 years at its helm, Wahlforss turned Wärtsilä into the biggest company in Finland, and its long tradition of firsts put it at the forefront of innovation. Responding to ever-changing global influences led to new directions, such as moving into the engine and propulsion business, which became a focus on making the world’s most efficient engines running on gas. 

The last 10 years saw the addition of maintenance services, liquefied natural gas (LNG) solutions, innovative ship and power plant designs that use fuel alternatives like propane, ethane and biogas, and the integration of solar power. And, with the dawn of the digital era, the most rapid changes have been virtual ones. Genius Services and other digital enablers are constantly progressing to help customers improve their profits and pave the way for Wärtsilä’s future, too. 

Much as Wärtsilä took shape – and, in the process, helped shape the nation – during the last century, it is ready to mould the world of tomorrow, both in Finland and across the globe. Wärtsilä has overcome obstacles to deliver ever-smarter solutions that keep its customers one step ahead and will build on this momentum as the world advances ever more swiftly into the future.