April 29, 2020
The ski wax company Vauhti Speed did not hesitate when new types of cleaner and care products were needed for the skin skis favoured by active skiers. As the coronavirus (COVID-19) expanded into a pandemic and pharmacies ran out of hand sanitiser, the production line was swiftly harnessed for intensive hand sanitiser production. There is plenty of innovativeness and momentum for the upcoming ski season as well: the company will be the first to launch ski waxes based on new fluorine-free additives.
Before the coronavirus crisis, the production line of the traditional ski wax company Vauhti Speed Oy was spewing out ski waxes at a steady rate of 6,000 bottles a day, in one shift all year round, for the international markets in Norway, the EU, North America and Russia.
“In these difficult times, we made a quick decision in March to drive down all ski wax production and harness the maximum daily capacity, 20,000 bottles, for intensive hand sanitiser production in three shifts to meet acute domestic demand”, the company’s CEO Esa Puukilainen, PhD (Chemistry), says.
CEO Esa Puukilainen proudly presents the new generation fluorine-free ski waxes by Vauhti Speed. Photo Ilari Hassinen.
The line now produces a bottle of hand sanitiser, Vauhti Clean & Go™, every two seconds. Vauhti Speed has wanted to serve Finnish society and contribute to curbing the pandemic, as the company has expertise in the field of chemistry and is able to react with agility as a SME.
The decision required innovative thinking and the courage to jump into a new business. As a chemist, Puukilainen first swiftly found out what is the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation on the composition of hand sanitiser.
“We have followed the WHO’s ethanol-based recipe closely. From a production point of view, the manufacture of hand sanitiser is very similar to the production of Vauhti Skin Ski Cleaner™, which has been patented with Kolster, because in addition to special active ingredients, it also contains denatured ethanol as a solvent. The production equipment and facilities were already well-suited for flammable substances, and we have the know-how to handle them, so the transfer went smoothly with a couple of days of preparations”, Puukilainen describes.
Half of the production has been earmarked for the needs of public health care, nursing services and authorities. The other half is evenly divided between the private health care sector and distribution partners, such as Intersport, SOK and Orion.
The production of hand sanitiser was not originally planned to be permanent, but to make up for a product shortage in a crisis situation. However, the successful leap into new business has led Vauhti Speed to update its business strategy and consider complementary products alongside ski waxes.
“We plan to keep hand sanitiser or other cleaning and hygiene products in our product portfolio during normal times as well. We are currently familiarising ourselves with this new industry for us and its specific customer needs. The aim is to expand our own expertise in chemical technology and develop new innovative products”, Puukilainen says.
Although the past winter was poor in terms of skiing conditions and the sales of ski waxes did not reach the level of the best years, Vauhti Speed needs its current production line primarily for the manufacture of ski waxes.
“We will be catching up with ski wax production in the coming summer and early autumn. In practice, we will need separate equipment and production line to manufacture cleaning and hygiene products. We have already been planning it and are very likely to invest in it in the near future.”
Puukilainen is particularly pleased that Vauhti Speed has been able to offer full employment to its own personnel and also hire new people with the hand sanitiser production.
Things are also happening on the ski wax side, and Vauhti Speed has managed to reach its goal of developing new generation fluorine-free ski waxes. For a couple of years now, the company has been testing various active ingredients and compositions that can be used to replace fluorine compounds that burden the environment in ski glide waxes.
“Last autumn, we managed to find a composition that proved to be very effective in tests. We filed a patent application for it with Kolster’s help – as a continuation to the skin ski cleaning and care products that were patented a few years earlier.”
The use of harmful fluorine compounds in ski waxes will end by decision of the European Chemicals Agency in the summer of 2020. The pending patent application and patent are of great importance to Vauhti Speed, as it will be the first in the industry to roll out glide waxes based on new fluorine-free additives.
“We launched the products in small batches as early as last November, shortly after filing the patent application. We have already received good feedback on their effectiveness from both competitive skiing and active hobbyists. It will be exciting to see what kinds of solutions competitors will enter the market with in the coming ski season.”
The people at Vauhti Speed believe that they have managed to find the best active ingredients and compositions, and to protect them for their own use in ski waxes.
“What is new and inventive is the use of various metal stearates, in particular zinc stearate, as well as certain types of silicone waxes, polysiloxanes, as active ingredients to replace fluorine compounds. The ratio of these different active ingredients has been optimised to improve ski glide in all snow conditions.”
The ski giant Fischer is also very enthusiastic about the new fluorine-free ski waxes.
“Fischer is including our new Vauhti Pure™ products in its own selection to sell in the coming ski season”, Puukilainen confirms.
Fischer got excited about Vauhti Speed already a few years ago with the company’s first patented skin ski product line, and now acts as a sales channel for all Vauhti Speed products – including specialty products for competitive skiing and alpine sports – on the key winter sports markets in Central Europe and Russia.
The cooperation is now deepening and expanding even further.
“The import and distribution of the Fischer and One Way brands in Finland and the Baltic countries will be transferred to Vauhti Speed next autumn. As a result, our operations will expand significantly”, Puukilainen says.
The new business ventures in hygiene and cleaning products as well as representing the Fischer and One Way brands make Vauhti Speed a strongly growing company.
“Our vision is to be a global market leader in waxing technology, and to develop new innovative products in the hygiene and cleaning product category as well. The Fischer cooperation and the product lines patented at Kolster are major drivers of growth.”Read more about Vauhti Speed’s agile innovation, race to the top of the ski wax industry and our cooperation in the protection of innovations:
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