Our founding story
From using withering soviet tank factories to rethinking global supply chains
Combi Works started as a family business, founded by mother and son Veronika and Edward, with very different strengths. And soon joined by brother Robert to complete the team that built the company into what it is today.
Our story begins at a time of great global change in the end of the 1980s. The Soviet Union is losing the economic race against the Western democracies and opening its borders. Swedish eccentric entrepreneur Stenbäck believed that mobile communication will not only be an economic revolution but one that is sorely needed also in the East and he set one of his companies, Millicom International Cellular SA, to realize it. They knew that Finland with its rich history would have the best knowhow to make it happen. So they hired one of our founders, Veronika Braithwaite to build the business. Finns have a history of doing business with Russians and the Soviet Union and managing the entanglements involved.
She traveled the country, relocated her family to Moscow for a few years, negotiated licenses and built up the mobile networks across major cities and the outcome was the first mobile operator in the East and a lifetime of experience and stories. While she was doing so, the Soviet Union collapsed and a new world of business opportunities opened up.
Fast forward to the turn of the millennium. Our other founder, Edward Blomstedt was studying mechanical engineering at Helsinki University of Technology. An idea and an opportunity sparked the founding of our company when the two were contacted by a former Soviet tank factory which had turned into a tractor factory but was sorely struggling without orders. Huge capacity lies idle, machinery deteriorating. There was an opportunity to harness the capacity and competitive pricing. The factory itself was huge and reminded of a far past era. Combi Works set out and found a market niche in heavy durable manhole castings on the Finnish market. Making a long story simple, we combined the market needs and existing excess manufacturing capacity. Creating value in supply chains has been part of our DNA from the start.
We soon stumbled upon our next decisive situation when our partners at the time in Russia wanted to change all signed agreements without warning. We were given the options to accept their new terms or close down.
We found a third path, to replace the manufacturing capacity rapidly, redesign products and move production. We set to do so and within 3 months we had rebuilt the manufacturing in two new sites in two countries. The business was saved and we ensured on time deliveries and quality and could uphold all our agreements with customers, something which has been the corner stone of our business.
The founding story sowed the seeds of what became the guiding principles of Combi Works – service to exceed expectations, flexible capacity, full back up for production and to ensure delivery safety to customers.