Olavi grew up as a smallholder’s son in Ilomäenkylä, Virrat. Olavi’s father was very good with his hands, making metal and woodcrafts in his workshop. The workshop was a fascinating place for a little boy and Olavi used to sneak in to it. That’s where he acquired the determination and pride to make things with his own hands. The entrepreneurial spark in him when he accidentally broke a bowl of his mother’s while playing. When he grew up, he decided to start a bowl factory to pay back the broken bowl.
Olavi wasn’t just interested in technique. He also used to spend time in the barn training the bulls into draught animals.
As a young technical engineer Olavi Mäkinen bought his first plastic machine in 1972. The machine was also the first plastic machine in Virrat. In the same year, discs bearing the number 80 became compulsory for new drivers in Finland. Olavi took advantage of the new market niche and started making thin plastic discs with the number 80 on them. In total VMT made over 10,000 of these before printed discs took over the market.
These 80 discs were used in Finland from 1972 to 1996. New driving licence holders had to display the disc in their rear windows. Vehicles with these 80 discs were not allowed to exceed 80 km/h. If the driver broke the limit three times in a year, he or she could be banned from driving, and might also have to face an interrogation from the police chief.
VMT’s path from garage to modern facilities.
Operations began in a garage with one man and one machine. From the beginning Olavi had a constantly widening network of experts around him. VMT became an employer when the operations started in an old village schoolhouse in 1979. Rauno Rantanen soon became one of VMT’S key experts. He worked hard and put in long hours at the production facilities. Soon, the team of plastic experts started growing.
There was a generational handover a few years ago in VMT, with Olavi’s children becoming new managers. Both the CEO Marja and the Sales Manager Ville have actively created their job descriptions. They are both conversational, approachable and pervasively educated improvers. They share a passion for continuous improvement.