Okkonen, who joined Finnish-based Vacon in 2000, was previously its vice-president for aftermarket services. “I’m really excited about this assignment as the new MD of Vacon UK,” he says. “I have always liked to work close to customers and provide unbeatable products and services for them.”
Takhar, who launched Vacon UK in 1999, feels that the time is right for a new MD to take over. “It’s time for Vacon to take the next big step in the local market,” he says. “We have what we need to succeed: world-class products and technologies and dedicated employees with unrivalled expertise. I believe that we have all the possibilities to gain more market share.
“Overall, I’m very pleased with what we’ve achieved in the UK over the last 15 years,” he adds, “although we, like most companies, suffered a blip in our growth during and after the 2008 recession. Now, however, business confidence has recovered, and we’re looking forward to strong growth over the coming years.”
When Takhar launched Vacon UK, he and four colleagues worked from their homes, with his garage serving at the company’s “logistics centre” where stock was held. On its first day, Vacon UK received an order for a 55kW drive for use in the kitchens of the chef, Marco Pierre White. Within six months, the logistics centre had reached its capacity and the company moved to a starter unit near Leicester. By 2004, further growth made larger premises necessary, and Vacon UK moved to its present location in Hinckley. Today, it employs 13 people and is currently one of the five largest suppliers to the £100m UK VSD market, according to Gambica figures.
Thomas Thörewik, Vacon’s vice-president for Northern and Eastern Europe, says he is grateful for what Takhar has achieved. “I want to express my gratitude to Stephen for all his entrepreneurship, commitment and hard work in bringing our sales in the UK and Ireland from zero to the level we have today!”
In his new role, Okkonen will be responsible for Vacon’s operations throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland, including sales, marketing and after-market services.
It is not clear yet how Danfoss’ takeover of Vacon late last year will affect the Finnish business and its operations around the world.