First publishedin Aggregates Business Europe
Metso Minerals has united its mining and construction divisions in a bid to enhance innovation. Claire Symes spoke with the man charged with heading up the mining and construction technology division Perttu Louhilouto to find out more
Perttu Louhilouto may be a relative newcomer to Metso Minerals
but it is clear that he has a real passion for the way the company operates and the customers it works with. Louhilouto joined Metso in October 2008 but since July last year he has been working as senior vice president for EAME for mining and construction technology and he is enjoying the new challenge.
Louhilouto's appointment marks a change of direction for Metso Minerals' structure with no separate organisations for construction and mining but the divisions united under the Mining and Construction Technology (MCT) banner. "The aim is to keep the competence in customer facing functions but to join forces for technological development," said Louhilouto.
According to Louhilouto, his role covers MCT sales and customer service for the EAME region, which he describes as stretching from Johannesburg to Trondheim and Lisbon to Siberia. He reports to Andrew Benko who heads up equipment and solutions for mining and construction and Joao Ney Colagrossi who heads up services.
Louhilouto has four members in his team covering different regional areas - Dave Moon has responsibility for Southern Africa, Luis Santo covers Southern Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East, Northern Europe is Dord Svensson's area, while Esko Pystynen looks after the CIS.
Metso's new senior vice president officially started on 1 July 2009 but had been working on development of the role since May last year. He moved from within Metso to take on the task and previously worked on the executive team where he held corporate responsibility for staff functions. But his current role takes him into the type of work that he really enjoys.
Before he joined Metso Minerals in October 2008, Louhilouto worked as a management consultant. Louhilouto studied business and economics at Helsinki University
before starting his career in management consultancy. "I was always interested in business but had no specific field I wanted to work in when I graduated, so working in management consultancy was ideal," he explained. "But more and more I found I was working with - and enjoying - the industrial based clients. Their businesses represented something tangible." With regards to Metso Minerals, Louhilouto said that he understood the sector that the company worked in before joining. "It is not an area I have worked in before but I had a top-down strategical view of op the business," he said. "I gave it a lot of thought before I jumped the fence and joined Metso but there were a number of factors that swayed my decision.
"I like the people and values here and that is very important to me but the company also has a very strong technological backbone with its roots in engineering, plus the company takes the long-term view with customers. To me this all appeals - especially building relationships with customers in this way."
Louhilouto said that he has a real passion for customers and wants to spend the majority of his time with them to understand how the business is functioning and how well Metso is meeting the needs of customers. "The corporate role was not really me - it was too much of an internal service role," he said.
"I have always been industrially orientated and I like the transparency of this industry - others might say simplicity - but it is easy to see who the winners and losers are. There is a need to work hard and there is no hiding from that. Personally I don't like businesses where the outcome is based on legacy positions.
"With aggregates, in many ways you just need to do a good job." Officially Louhilouto is based in Helsinki but he said that in reality he is based on a plane but other members of the MCT team are located there so it makes sense to make that his base. He explained that the only limit on his travel comes from the family side - he has young children and a dog he said - but professionally there is no limit.
"The timing of my start in this role was a turbulent time and taking the job at the time of a reorganisation meant that it was important to make the team gel. The unfortunate side effect was the need to reduce costs but now that is done and we have a structure that we are ready to move forward with. Customers will get what they expect with 100% external focus." Louhilouto said that the focus of his first six months in the role was meeting people and visiting operations within Metso, but he is now looking to meet customers more. "I want to understand where their businesses are heading and gather these messages," he said. "It is important to visit customers to show them how important they are to us.
He added that his schedule is slightly skewed towards visiting customers in emerging markets. "Customers are less used to seeing senior staff in these locations but this all forms part of Metso's strategy to build long-term relationships and we are working to start this at an early stage in these markets," he said.
Economic prospects "At Metso we try to follow our customers, we are not specialists in macro-economics but use specialists to gather intelligence for us, but these reports suggest that 2010 will be a challenging year in Europe, although it will be brighter elsewhere.
"It is unfortunate but a fact that the recession came hard and deep but we have not been as badly affected as some in the sector - customers want suppliers with staying power and as a result the MCT figures for 2009 are nothing to be ashamed of." The company recorded a turnover of €2.1billion in 2009, down from €2.6billion in the previous year. "It is wrong to brag but we are quietly satisfied with the outcome," said Louhilouto.
"This was a new type of recession - it was a surprise just how fast things turned and all areas were affected at the start but some picked up faster. Emerging markets like China and India are doing well but it is the established markets that are slower to rebound.
"It is interesting looking at the 2009 figures - there are number shifts in all regions but none of them are that big. This year will definitely see the emerging markets grow and this is where we are planning to invest." According to Louhilouto, there are four main areas where Metso will strengthen its offering this year. "The main developments will be in mobile screens, crushers, automation and service products," he said.
"The whole Lokotrack screen range is being reviewed, while two new crushers and new sizes of gyratory crushers will be launched during 2010. There will also be some new automation systems to build on the existing technology and expand the offering to cone and VSI crushers. On the service side, we will launch new service packages with different levels of service to fit better with our customers' in-house capabilities and add real value." It is clear that adding value is a real focus of Louhilouto's approach to work and something he hopes to build on through his visits to customers. "The structure means that I can now get close to customers so will have a better feel for what there real needs are now and in the future," he said.