Pivoting from old world ideals to modern sustainability
There’s a persistent idea that progress, profit, and sustainable practices are often mutually exclusive. Working toward a greener business model that prioritizes environmentally responsible production while growing the bottom line isn’t an unrealistic goal. In fact, one Finnish company has proven it’s possible - and profitable - to pivot from old world ideals to modern sustainability.
Adapting a historical company for growth
UPM-Kymmene (UPMKY) is a forest industry company with roots in paper and sawmills. The companies first mills were put into production in Finland in the 1870s, leveraging the growing industrial revolution across Europe and continued to grow through pulp manufacturing, paper production, and manufacturing plywood through the 1930s. In the early 2000s, global overproduction of paper caused UPM to announce cost-reduction measures that lead to layoffs of more than 3,000 employees and the closure of several paper mills in Finland.
That could have been the beginning of the end for the company, but they did something that is vital to growth and success: they adapted and reinvented themselves. In 2013, UPMK restructured the company into six business groups, all with the same core mission: creating value through renewable and recyclable raw materials, leveraging knowledge and technology to meet their goals. Taking it even further, they coined the term “biofore” to represent the new forest industry, pairing sustainable solutions with forestry and their position at the forefront of the development of environmentally conscious products and processes.
So, what does UPMK look like after repositioning their business and values? Has focusing on renewable resources and responsible choices impacted the bottom line?
UPMK continues to show profitability after revamping its focus
Currently, UPMK operates manufacturing facilities in 12 countries, has a global sales network, and reports earnings of 10.5 Billion (in euros). With a plan to aim higher and strive for further growth, which was detailed in their 2018 Annual Report, UPMK is primed for gains in 2019 and beyond. Helping along the efforts fueled by innovation and a bone-deep belief that responsibility is a requirement for long-term value, both in products and in the world, is the ever-growing focus on the impact of climate change.
While there are still deniers who believe climate change is something to be leveraged for political gain and not, in fact, a threat to our global economy, food sources, and natural resources, more and more consumers are taking on the responsibility themselves. From purchasing reusable or biodegradable everyday products to supporting bans on plastic bags, consumers are proving that there is a need for what UPMK does and that need will only grow as more people learn about renewable and sustainable goods and services.
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