Antti Koulumies, the new Senior Vice President of UPM Timber, stepped into his position in early June, at a point when the timber business is booming.
At the same time, the carbon footprint and effect on biodiversity of raw materials are ever more important to customers. Koulumies believes that UPM Timber, as a pioneer of responsible practices in the timber industry, has everything it needs to meet customer expectations now and to further develop in the future.
Antti Koulumies’ new position is his first at UPM.
“UPM Timber’s product – timber from responsibly grown forests – is very much in tune with my own values. All four of our sawmills run on renewable energy, and our timber products sequester carbon throughout their lifespan”, he explains.
In his role as head of UPM Timber, Koulumies leads the Timber management team and joins the management team of UPM Biorefining. Koulumies’ predecessor, Aki Temmes, was appointed Senior Vice President of Business Control & Finance Operations at UPM at the start of this year.
Koulumies thinks that UPM is in an interesting developmental phase, in many ways.
“UPM is developing new alternatives to the use of fibres. In the area of wood construction, the future looks bright and full of possibilities for us.”
Experience that can be applied to raw timber materials
Koulumies holds a master’s degree (M.Sc) in, Industrial Management from Aalto University. Before his move to UPM, he worked for REEL International’s aluminium division, having arrived there through their corporate acquisition of Metso Outotec’s Aluminium business earlier this year. As Vice President, Aluminium at Metso Outotec, he had focused on improving profitability, new order intake, and finally, on the sale of the business.
“Once the divestment of the business to REEL was complete, it was a good time to move on to new challenges.”
Koulumies has previously worked as a consultant at McKinsey and Company, and has lived in South Africa, London and more over the course of his career. He first became acquainted with the forest industry a decade ago, while researching a large corporate acquisition and the logic of value creation in the pulp and paper industry.
Koulumies sees similarities between aluminium and timber as commodities.
“Aluminium is used in many of the same applications as wood, particularly in construction. I think I understand the dynamics of the raw materials sector, and can contribute with new ideas to UPM Timber.”
Sharp increase in the demand for timber
UPM Timber supplies timber to customers in the furniture, construction, packing and processing industries. In addition to Finland, some of UPM Timber’s main markets include China, Japan, Continental Europe, and the UK. The demand for timber has increased worldwide, which has also led to a rise in prices.
“The construction-related raw materials business is always cyclical. The popularity of wood-based construction is increasing, as builders think more about the lifetime carbon footprint of their materials. The COVID19 pandemic has also increased people’s enthusiasm for building and remodelling with wood. Some of these developments will turn out to be permanent”, Koulumies opines.
Early this year, UPM Timber announced its fossil free production process, which now runs entirely on renewable energy. UPM corporation has the ambitious goal of a 65% reduction in its production facilities’ carbon dioxide emissions from fuels and purchased electricity by the year 2030.
“UPM’s advantage as a company is that we control the entire chain, from the forest to the end product, which makes it possible to ensure a responsible operation”, says Koulumies.
Responsible practices must be developed together
The origin and carbon footprint of raw materials are becoming more and more important, particularly as they relate to curbing climate change and safeguarding nature’s biodiversity. All of UPM’s timber is certified through either the FSC or Pefc certificates, and it is possible to obtain both carbon footprint calculations for this timber and the respective sawmills’ environmental declarations.
Koulumies thinks that it is important to understand customers’ needs, and to continue listening to them going forward.
“Security of supply and reliability are important in all markets, whether in Finland and Europe, in China and Japan, or elsewhere.”
UPM Timber’s new leader says that he is already looking forward to his first customer meetings. He hopes to have good discussions about what responsibly sourced raw materials mean to customers and their end users.
“Nobody can measure their sustainability in a vacuum – everything is linked to the larger chain, and thus co-operation is needed in order to achieve significant improvements”, Koulumies emphasises.
- Born: Espoo, Finland, 1986
- M.Sc., Industrial Management, Aalto University
- Senior Vice President, UPM Timber, 2021
- Family: wife, two young daughters, and an Australian labradoodle
- Hobbies: golf, downhill and cross-country skiing, and running, plus a special affection for classical music