Improvement is Built on Solution Orientation

Quality Manager Juha Suominen is responsible for the quality development of our products and operations. While he takes his work and its challenges very seriously, he enjoys a work environment where there’s also room for humour.

How long have you been with Vahterus?

I started working at Vahterus in 1991, so I’ve been here for more than 27 years.

What’s your work history in the company?

At first, I worked with the plate packs as a welder. After two years, I became Production Foreman. Between 1995 and 2007 I worked as a Maintenance Foreman and Welding Coordinator, and in 2007 I was made a Quality Manager. Since 2009, I’ve also been responsible for the tasks of Occupational Safety Manager and Environment Manager.

What do you like best about your job?

My work is versatile and varied, and there are plenty of challenges: in improving the quality of the product and operations as well as the safety culture. Environmental issues also require a lot of attention.

Can you describe a typical day at work?

I lead the quality team, which consists of 12 people. They work in different roles from quality and welding engineering to quality controlling and documentation. While the content of my work days varies according to what kind of projects we have going on, a typical day involves problem-solving, meetings and audits, CE certification and maintaining quality guidelines. Even though the work week can be roughly planned ahead, a day seldom goes by without some unexpected issues that might require a quick solution.

What kind of situations bring out your best qualities?

My role is to act as mediator and seek solutions. I believe I’m at my best in situations where my experience is useful and the goal is to find a collective solution to a problem.

What, to you, is Vahterus’s most important value?

Constant development and enthusiasm for improvement, which also means investing in employee development. I think these are fundamental factors in building and maintaining a successful company.

What could Vahterus be better at?

We could still improve the quality of the welding, in the sense that it could be more even and have fewer flaws. But all in all, we can be proud of our high-quality product. What needs more attention and involvement is the safety culture. That’s something that can’t be changed immediately but requires time and focus.

When do you feel you’ve succeeded in your work?

My work is mostly about focusing on developing things, so the best reward is to see that work actually leading to concrete results, where the quality of the product and the operations has been improved.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I recently attended an occupational safety audit carried out by one of our customers. Among other topics, Vahterus’ accident frequency rate came up. It was average within the Finnish metal industry, but rather high in international terms. That was a good reminder that there’s still a lot to be done in developing a stronger safety culture.

If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?

I’d probably be working in agriculture and forestry.

How do you spend your time outside work?

I enjoy boating in the summer. In winter, I keep myself busy with forestry work. I also like to travel.

In the midst of everyday life, what delights you?

A good and open work environment with room for humour.

What inspires the great team spirit at Vahterus?

The fact that Vahterus is family owned gives it stability and clear values. I believe our team spirit has also been built by simply working and growing together. Many employees have been with us for a long time, and over the years, we’ve grown from a small family business into a significant international company.

Which new skill would you like to learn?

I have no new skill in mind at the moment. Instead, I look forward to developing and deepening my existing skills.

What do your co-workers not know about you?

This summer, I became a grandpa for the first time.

Who of your co-workers would you like to praise?

I’d like to praise my entire team for their good work, for showing initiative and carrying out their roles with such responsibility.