In 2006, when the Switch was founded as a startup, it was already clear that the company one day would be sold. In 2014 the day came when the company was acquired by Japanese-based Yaskawa Electric Corporation, known especially for its robotics.
“Luckily, we were acquired by a trade buyer and not by a private equity firm. This gives us better opportunities to focus on the long-term development of our processes and products,” says CFO Dag Sandås.
The Switch makes electrical drive trains, which transform mechanical energy into electricity. The products are used in the wind power industry as well as in other forms of renewable energy. More recently, they are also being offered for marine solutions.
Dag Sandås has been with The Switch since its foundation. He notes that thanks to the new owner, there is finally time to take a breath and make long-term plans.
“We retained our freedom at the same time as receiving great support from the holding company. We are used to a faster pace than our holding company, but it is not necessarily a bad thing to let important strategic decision-making take time. As a part of a large industrial group, we have gained broader shoulders and more credibility in the eyes of our customers.”
Cooperation between The Switch and Yaskawa has even exceeded expectations, and Sandås gathers that one reason is that Finnish and Japanese business cultures resemble one another. “You could call it humble determination. Small talk is not very highly valued in either of the cultures. The focus is on getting things done,” he says.
The business model of The Switch since the start has been to build a large network of partners. The company’s own factories in Vaasa and Lappeenranta, Finland, manufacture mainly prototypes and zero-series. Yaskawa has also learned new things from the partner model and is now also applying it in other segments of the group.
The market is tough, but the new owner has been of great help.
“Fluctuations in this line of business are strong, and having a partner model makes you more flexible,” Sandås notes. “It has been advantageous for both Yaskawa and The Switch to have partly different customers and main markets. The cooperation has opened new doors for both companies.”
Business sector: Megawatt-class permanent magnet generator and full-power converter packages for renewable energy and marine applications
Turnover: €40 million