1882 - Carbon black to Russia
Woikoski was established in 1882 when Knut August Palmberg, a young Finnish engineer, set up a carbon black factory at Koivuniemi, in Vehkalahti.
Carbon black was in high demand, particularly in Russia, which was the product’s principal market. The availability of hydroelectric energy combined with satisfactory transport connections, and particularly the connections to Russia required for export, built strong foundations for the company’s business operations. This was the beginning of Woikoski’s story and its growth into a major company in the Finnish chemical industry..
1888 - Bold decisions pave the way for success
In 1888, Knut August made the decision to purchase a plot of land with access to water in Tirva, because the capacity of the carbon black factory needed to be stepped up and its operations transferred to a location with potential for growth.
1913 - Chemical factory and move to Voikoski
In 1913, Knut August’s son Bertil established a chemical factory in Tirva, which produced stearine and tallow for the candle and soap industries. The hydrogen required for hydrogenation, a treatment of materials with hydrogen, was produced via electrolysis by decomposing water in electrolytic cells.
The process generated oxygen gas as a by-product, which was then sold to welding companies. The company soon realised that oxygen gas was fast becoming their best-selling product - previously Finnish companies had resorted to imported gas. When it became apparent that the hydropower generated by the streams in Tirva could not meet the needs of the booming gas production, Bertil decided to transfer the chemical factory to Voikoski in Mäntyharju.
In its new location, the factory continued the familiar production programme, manufacturing hydrogen and oxygen gas and hydrogenating fats. Since production started in Voikoski, the gas industry has gone from strength to strength in Finland.
1933 - Hard work pays off
In 1933, the first air separation plant was launched in Voikoski, using a distillation method to produce oxygen. Four years later, when a hydrogen peroxide facility started operations in Voikoski, it was the first of its kind in the Nordic countries - and one of very few in the world.
Bertil’s son Sven took over as the managing director in the 1940s. He guided the company successfully through recession, war, and the huge changes of the 1950s and 1960s. During this period, Woikoski built an air separation plant in Imatra, oxygen filling stations in Varkaus and Kotka, and a hydrogen facility in Espoo.
1970 - A provider of overall solutions
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the family business managed to stave off takeover threats by a competitor. Clas Palmberg took the helm as the managing director and has since turned Woikoski into a provider of overall solutions in the gas sector.
These days, Woikoski is a reliable partner for many companies.
2012 - Towards a hydrogen economy
Woikoski saw the appointment of its first managing director from outside the family in 2012 when Kalevi Korjala, who had forged a long career in the company, took over the reins.
Strong growth has continued in the 2000s as the air gas production plant and the hydrogen facility built in Kokkola in 2013–2014 amount to Woikoski’s largest investment during its history. It has also made investments in the handling of helium.
At the same time, the company is building a hydrogen economy by developing its hydrogen concept through investments in production, logistics and applications. The first hydrogen filling station was completed in spring 2013 and Finland’s first hydrogen car is easily recognisable by its registration number: WOI-1.