AIRCNC - L'intervista a Kari Mäkeläinen di Columdae


Pubblicato il 10/03/2024

L'intervista a Kari Mäkeläinen di Columdae

Aircnc presenta il suo partner per l'internazionalizzazione in Scandinavia

What opportunities do you see for companies in the Italian mechanical manufacturing sector in Scandinavia at this historical moment? And more generally for manufacturing?

Best opportunities are in selling components and machinery. The former typically involve selling directly to companies, and for the latter usually a distributor needs to be found. Columdae has previously worked e.g. with foundries and machining companies. Columdae knows all the major buyers of components of this kind in Scandinavia, and has helped many of them expand their sales in the region, even with major global companies. Major metal, engineering, and machinery companies such as ABB and Logisnext have prominent manufacturing functions and purchasing in Scandinavian countries. Then there are also large local corporations, such as Vestas in Denmark, and Volvo in Sweden (automotives etc.), with whom Columdae has helped Italian companies develop business. Then there is the entire 1st tier supplier sector to these industries, which has dozens of relatively large companies (turnovers in excess of 100 million EUR), which may not be very well known outside those countries but can offer great sales opportunities for Italian companies. Then there are the numerous special vehicle and agricultural and forest machine producers, whose names may not be known to the general public but are world leaders in their segments. As Scandinavian companies sell globally, Scandinavia as a market for metal industry components and machinery is indeed larger than the size of the region.

When it comes distributors, Columdae is familiar with all the relevant ones in Scandinavia, which are open to representing and selling Italian machinery in the region. Quite often, Scandinavian customers for these require local support, which is easiest provided by a local distributor or other representative.

In some cases, Italian companies have found such good business in Scandinavia that they have decided to establish their own sales subsidiary or several. Columdae has experience of setting up this kind of arrangements as well and can advise Italian companies on the best possible setting.

What are the minimum requirements of a company that are usually required to access the Scandinavian market (e.g. ISO 9001? References in Scandinavia etc...?)

Yes, the minimum are the internationally common quality standards. Previous references in Scandinavia are not necessary, but references should be in the same field where the target customer works. It helps of course if references are from internationally well-known companies. Then there are some national difference. For instance, the industry in Norway is heavily oriented towards naval and offshore sectors, and relevant certifications are expected from most suppliers.

Few people in Scandinavia expect sales documentation in the local language in this field. Just in case of machinery, user manuals, interfaces and such may be needed in the local languages (Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish) but this is generally easy to arrange. If a company has a local distributor, they can usually advise on and assist in this process.

How are Italian companies perceived?

Generally Italian quality is recognized and appreciated. Italian price levels are seen as more attractive than those of e.g. German companies. However, Italian companies often appear impatient, and do not always understand how long time getting into a cooperation relationship with a Scandinavian company can take. This can annoy Scandinavian customers. Columdae is very familiar with these cultural differences, with its experienced local staff, and can help Italian companies give the best possible impression to Scandinavian buyers.

The interest of Scandinavian buyers is built slowly and carefully. Trying to rush up things with Scandinavian companies is usually counter-productive. Italian companies can find this frustrating but they should be patient and keep in mind that once a Scandinavian companies is secured as a customer, they are loyal to their suppliers, and one can expect a profitable long-term relationship.

What is the average margin in the mechanical manufacturing sector?

Profit margin? 10-15% The main challenges that Scandinavian companies have for their profitability these days are logistics costs related with sales and purchasing, as the region is a somewhat peripheral one in Europe (this applies especially to Finland). Also internal logistics costs are relatively high, as distances inside countries are long as well. Norway’s geography is particularly challenging here. As Scandinavian countries have small populations, and metal industries are not seen as very prestigious, finding skilled workers is often difficult. Labour markets in those countries are not as rigid as those in Italy and France, for instance, and thus metal industry employers can enjoy some more flexibility in Scandinavia.

I know that you help companies like ours to find new job opportunities in foreign markets, especially Scandinavian ones. What is the success rate (orders assigned), compared to the companies in our sector that have requested your consultancy?

All of our projects meet their target, which is: to find potential customers or partners to our clients. As for success measured by orders or cooperation agreement, generally around 70% of companies, which work with us realize this within two years from working with Columdae. With some its takes longer, due to slow decision making and business processes in Scandinavia.

How necessary is it to have a person on site? Can you help us find it?

A lot of companies manage to sell directly from Italy, or they have a local distributor. In case of significant sales in Scandinavia, establishing local presence may be advantageous. This can be a local subsidiary, branch office, or hiring a local salesperson. Columdae can help with all of these. This sort of arrangement requires a careful study of the local economic geography, in order to identify the optimal locations for this type of investment. Columdae is familiar with this too.

How is it to work with Scandinavians?

Scandinavians are generally speaking direct, and they expect the same from their counterparts. They expect deadlines to be strictly adhered to, and appointments (visits, calls) to be kept. If you have worked with Germans, Scandinavians are not more difficult. The most difficult thing is to get a Scandinavian company interested in talking with you. Scandinavian companies are generally not interested in just meeting new supplier candidates, unless they have an actual need for a new supplier. Here Columdae is very successful, as it can introduce Italian companies to Scandinavians by a local specialist, and make Italian companies considered for future partnerships.  As mentioned above, new supplier introduction and purchasing processes can feel slower in Scandinavia that in some other countries. This is a very important factor to keep in mind while working with Scandinavians.


Aircnc è una startup innovativa nata da una necessità in prima persona: quella di reperire lavorazioni di alta qualità anche di piccoli lotti ad un prezzo adeguato, difficilissima impresa in Italia...  

Partendo dalla convinzione che nel mondo attuale ogni risorsa abbia più senso solo se condivisa abbiamo pensato di mettere a disposizione le ore non utilizzate delle macchine utensili e delle risorse di produzione di subfornitori e produttori. È il nostro modo di vedere un’economia fluida, in cui tutto ciò in cui si investe possa dare il massimo ritorno ed il minimo spreco.


aircnc s.r.l. 
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