CEO’s review: LICO’s year 2023 and plans for the future

In 2023, LICO achieved the best performance in the company’s history, both in percentage terms and in euros. However, the outlook for 2024 is cautious.

2023 got off to a flying start for LICO. Order volumes grew rapidly, but as the workload increased, the challenge was finding enough skilled staff. However, with the help of good partners, the number of employees increased from 35 production workers at the turn of the year to 65 by the summer.

A year of twists and turns

According to Arto Pitkämö, CEO of LICO, one of the biggest successes in 2023 was not only managing the rapid growth but also the good attitude of the staff.

– Our staff deserves credit for their resilience. Before more employees were hired, the days had to be stretched long. The staff also did a good job of training and familiarizing the new employees, which allowed us to get back on top of deliveries during the summer and early autumn, Pitkämö sums up.

– Although there were sometimes delays with material suppliers, with the help of our partners we always managed to find alternatives and agree on them with our customers. Everything went well in the end, and the customers were understanding.

After a busy start to the year, LICO was forced to realize that the headwinds would not carry into the following year. It would be a one-year squeeze, after which new developments would have to be made.

– At the end of the year, we had to adjust our staffing levels but discussions with staff were conducted in good spirit, says Pitkämö.

Strong belief in the future

– The year 2024 looks pretty much budgeted at this point. Although there’s not great success in sight, we will still have a very good fighting profit despite the radical drop in volume. The structural changes made over the years have now been vindicated and will help us to smoothly cope with these fast-moving turnarounds. But all the focus is now on 2025, Pitkämö reveals.

Looking to the future, LICO has therefore set out to explore not only a higher volume export market but also the opportunities offered by NATO. In addition, LICO is involved in several development projects aimed at finding new material combinations.

– We are also looking at new product structures that will enable us to meet our customers’ requirements more competitively. Prototypes of these have already been made, but there are no products on the market yet, says Pitkämö.

LICO has also recently been busy modernising the sleeping cars on VR’s (a government-owned railway company in Finland) night trains. Pitkämö believes the industry has good prospects for the future, despite the economic situation in Finland and Europe. In the longer term, the investments are paying off.

– We have identified new markets in the Nordic countries and Europe that will enable us to expand our customer portfolio to a large area. The green transition will also open different opportunities.

A strong belief in the future and economic recovery is reflected in LICO’s ambitions.

– Our goal is to grow to over 10 million in the next five years and to remain the industry leader in the Nordic region and one of the top five in Europe, concludes Pitkämö.