The story of CTS Engtec Oy began in 1973. The decades-long journey has seen a lot of events and turns, but above all, work done with quality, commitment, and long-term approach for completion of more than 3,000 notable assignments in over 40 countries.
Engineers Heikki Hakala, Eero Nevalainen, and Ahti Nousiainen established the company currently known as CTS Engtec under the name of Teollisuussuunnittelu Oy in Kouvola in 1973. The founders decided in favour of Kouvola as the company’s domicile because it was the heart of Finnish wood processing industry, even though none of them lived or hailed from there. “It was a great time for starting. Work started to pour in right away, there was a lot of demand, and we sometimes had to reject some of the jobs offered. At the beginning, we did all kind of things, piping engineering and small-scale process engineering,” Heikki Hakala recalls.
The first project was participation in the engineering of a paper machine delivered by Ahlström and Rauma Repola Oy to North Korea within the framework of the Sulbi project. This was followed by, among others, renewal of the dry end of PM6 at Myllykoski, A. Ahlström’s Vapa 4 project for Varkaus, Tampella’s PM3 and pressure groundwood unit in Anjala, and the engineering of three paper mills in Russia for Valmet. In 1976, an office was opened in Helsinki, and with the support of some larger projects, operations expanded first to electrical and instrumentation engineering and then to HVAC engineering.
The oil crisis at the end of the 1970s and the economic recession that followed did not leave Teollisuussuunnittelu Oy untouched, but in the 1980s, the investment boom in the wood processing industry reversed the decline. Teollisuussuunnittelu Oy participated in many notable new construction, renovation, and conversion projects of the Finnish wood processing industry implemented over the decade.
In addition, the company internationalised and grew, employing over 500 people at its peak. There were joint ventures and subsidiaries in Sweden, Spain, Estonia, and Brazil, and project deliveries found their way to different corners of the world, including Mexico and Kenya. Operations also expanded from the forest industry to several other industrial sectors.
“During our ten-year history, the company has provided complete engineering services for nine new paper mills and two new groundwood plants, as well as implemented 19 extensive renovation projects for paper and pulp mills. Furthermore, we have carried out numerous investment studies and profitability calculations for new plants. Our largest projects so far, Tampella’s PM3 in Anjala and Kymi Kymmene’s PM8, have recently been commissioned. Both machines reached full capacity quickly and without problems,” wrote Eero Nevalainen, the then Managing Director of Teollisuussuunnittelu Oy, in 1983.
In the 1980s, co-operation also commenced with Ekono Oy, which became the largest owner of Teollisuussuunnittelu Oy in 1987. In 1984, a new company, CTS Engineering Oy, was established alongside Teollisuussuunnittelu Oy – above all, for handling international trade. In 1992, the old name was given up altogether and CTS Engineering Oy persisted as the name of the company.
The economic recession in the early 1990s hit the company hard indeed, since the parent company Ekono Oy went bankrupt in 1993 and dragged CTS Engineering with it. Nevertheless, operation continued almost immediately under the same name, since the key persons re-founded the company. At the time, there were a few dozen employees.
Around the same time, forest industry companies started investing again, especially in pulp production, and CTS Engineering received a lot of major orders, such as the projects of Nordland Papier and Haindl Papier, subsidiaries of UPM-Kymmene in Central Europe, the Tervasaari Tarra project, Enso Gutzeit Oy’s Lumi 7 fine paper project, and the Uruguay plant project of ENCE (Portugal). CTS Engineering also had significant assignments in Russia, China, and India. In addition to the forest industry, the company was involved in power plant engineering, for example. At the end of the 1990s, the company employed almost 300 people.
The company operating on the international market was also noticed in its home locality, when CTS Engineering Oy turned 25 years old. On 31st of July 1998, the City of Kouvola awarded CTS Engineering Oy its 75th anniversary medal for successful development of Finnish engineering industry and extensive worldwide export from Kouvola.
In the early 2000s, CTS Engineering concluded a co-operation contract with the Swedish consulting and engineering business ÅF Group. The objective was recruiting international expertise and strengthening of the company’s positions in Central Europe. In 2004, CTS Engineering became part of ÅF Group.
In 2007, ÅF Group decided to give up CTS Engineering and sold the company to its management team at the time: Antti Lukka, Harri Soininen, and Jari Talka. In connection with this, the company’s name was changed to CTS Engtec Oy. At the time, there were about 130 employees.
The company’s first years as CTS Engtec were difficult due to the international financial crisis and the investment recession that followed, the effects of which were aggravated in the forest industry suffering from overcapacity. However, the company managed to find work in new branches, such as from international search engine companies that set up their data centres in Finland. Projects were also launched in the mining and metalworking sectors, as well as in the chemical and petrochemical industries.
In general, 2010s brought growth and diversification of activities for CTS Engtec, even though the financial crisis and international economic recession that lingered on in the first years of the decade still affected CTS Engtec’s operation. In 2011, the subsidiary OOO CTS Engtec was founded in St. Petersburg for the Russian market. In the same year, an office was established in Turku to serve customers in Southwest Finland, as well as offices in Oulu and Espoo to serve mining and metalworking customers in particular. The turning point was the year 2013, when the creditors accepted the company’s application for restructuring.
“Contributions from the owners and venture capital investors, commitment of the personnel and the trust of our customers helped us through that phase. Also, the business started to grow surprisingly fast under the influence of increasing forest industry investments,” says Antti Lukka, Managing Director of CTS Engtec.
For example, over the decade, CTS Engtec participated in all notable pulp mill projects in Finland. The company was also engaged by renewable energy power plant projects, several mining projects in Finland and Russia, and chemical and petrochemical projects. In addition, we have deliberately sought growth from international markets.
In 2017, the Smaragdus Group managed by Helmet Capital became the majority shareholder in CTS Engtec. This ownership arrangement created the basis for the development and growth of CTS Engtec. At the same time, it was decided to end the restructuring project started in 2013 much earlier than expected. The former owners, Antti Lukka, Managing Director, and Harri Soininen, Director, Project Management, stayed with the company. In February, the Smaragdus Group purchased Fimpec Oy, which continues its operations in the Group as a separate company.
In 2018, CTS Engtec expanded its operations by purchasing JEEC Oy, a Jyväskylä-based company specialised in automation and electrical engineering, and SystemTest OÜ in Tallinn, Estonia. Expansion in Central Finland continued in 2019, when CTS Engtec purchased the machine, HVAC, and industrial technology engineering services business of Karibu Oy from Jyväskylä. By the end of 2019, CTS Engtec had more than 150 employees.
“The comprehensive expertise of our personnel, know-how accumulated over decades, and ability to provide all-inclusive services for project implementation are among our strengths allowing us to look to the future with confidence,” states Lukka, Managing Director.