Orbis70 - Veli Koskilehto
#Orbis70 – perspectives on the story
Veli Koskilehto started his career at Orbis as a Technical Sales Engineer in 1962. For many decades, he was the Account Manager for measuring and communications equipment by Rohde&Schwarz. Veli retired in 2001.
“Things were modest in the early days,” says Veli. The company occupied two rooms on the top floor of owner Leo Linna-Aro’s family home, together with a storeroom in the basement and a dry toilet in the yard. As the business expanded, the Linna-Aro family moved elsewhere and the company took over the ground floor of the house as well. Later, as the company grew, bigger premises were built and rented.
Transmitters and receivers boosted growth
While Veli was working for the company, Orbis’ operations focused on supplier representations, of which the most important in terms of financial value were Germany’s Rohde&Schwarz and the Swiss cable and connector manufacturer Huber+Suhner.
At that time, communications equipment, i.e. wireless communication transmitters and receivers, were essential and measuring instruments were required for the production and use of these devices. Orbis’ customers included the Finnish Defence Forces, the Finnish Civil Aviation Administration, the Posts and Telecommunications of Finland and the missions of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
“Our largest contracts were made in the 1970s and 1980s, when we entered into contracts for communications equipment with the Finnish Defence Forces. For instance, one contract was worth as much as one D-mark from every Finn,” says Veli, thrilled with his sales achievements. He adds: “When the head office in Munich demanded that we should further increase our sales, I suggested that they do the same in Germany: Get each 80 million Germans to pay one D-mark to Rohde&Schwarz.”
Three highlights from a long career
What Veli appreciates the most about his long career is that he was able to follow up and participate in the technological development. “In the beginning, we had the manually operated ARP short wave radios, then the NMT Nordic mobile radio network, and finally GSM. I was able to follow the development closely because we delivered a lot of measuring instruments for these networks. Another interesting story of technical development concerned the digitalisation and automation of communications equipment in the Finnish Defence Forces.
The third highlight from Veli’s career, that he wants to share, was the project of creating a standardized quality system for Orbis. In his experience, a quality system not only improves the image of the company, but it also makes it easier to handle less pleasant aspects like reclamations, when everyone accepts the corrective measures.
“It was a difficult task, but we got it done.”
Since Veli’s retirement, Orbis has had to deal with the rapid changes in the telecommunications industry in the early 2000s, which resulted in, for instance, Rohde&Schwarz setting up its own subsidiary in Finland in 2004.
In Veli's opinion, Orbis has gone from strength to strength in recent years. The company has moved from communications equipment to telecommunications more broadly. “Orbis’ management has a positive view of the future and I cannot see a reason to disagree,” says this old Technical Sales Engineer with a grin when he participates in Orbis’ Annual General Meeting in 2019.
“Do your best and the rest will follow,” is the message Veli would like to pass on to everyone working at Orbis.