Comfort your boat deserves since 1969
In 2019, VA-Varuste Oy, Europe’s largest manufacturer of fitted boat textiles, celebrated its 50th anniversary
VA-Varuste was established
First VA-Varuste manufactured tents and protective covers for cars and car seats – it did not have any products for boats.
Relocation to Siikaniemi
The boat industry was booming in the first few years of the 21st century and, to meet growing demand, VA-Varuste built its own factory on the shores of Lake Kallavesi in the Siikaniemi area of Kuopio.
Opening of factory in Poland
VA-Varuste Poland now operates on modern premises with a floor area of 2,400 square metres, serving customers all over Europe.
Opening of factory in Portugal
VA-Varuste Portugal serves customers all over Europe.
To the new facilities
The production of boat canopies started in Neulamäki
VA-Varuste was founded at the beginning of March in 1969 by Antero Vartiainen from Kuopio. First VA-Varuste manufactured tents and protective covers for cars and car seats – it did not have any products for boats. As a production facility there was a hall with a size of about 30 square meters.
In 1972, VA-Varuste moved to premises of 300 square meters in the Neulamäki industrial area in Kuopio. The first boat covers were delivered to Bella Veneet Oy. Production expanded in 1974, when the company moved to larger production facilities in Neulamäki. With this, new boat manufacturers also became customers. In the early 1980s, in addition to Bella boats, canopies were delivered to e.g. Buster, Finnsport, Hirvas and Lohi boats.
smooth and good quality
Textile know-how from Kuopio
Even from the beginning, the starting point in production was the consistent and good quality of the products, which guaranteed satisfied customers. Investments were also made in production methods, which achieved cost-effective production. From the beginning, it was important to understand the customers’ needs and design products that brought added value to the boats. Various boat manufacturers also noticed this, and over the years, VA-Varuste started supplying boat-side products to more and more different boat models. The Finnish boat industry has trusted professionalism of VA-Varuste for years.
Era for new owners
In 1989, Antero Vartiainen sold the company to Ulla and Toivo Vainikainen, who were owners of the company until their retirement. With the new owners, VA-Varuste focused on the production of boat canopies and car seat covers.
The first years were really challenging, because the Finnish economic crises in the early 1990s also hit VA-Varuste. Due to the low demand for boat covers, VA-Varuste expanded its product range to include e.g. manufacturing of installation tents, boat cushions and winter covers for the boats. All these products are still in VA-Varuste’s selections.
After demand recovered, the production facilities were expanded
In 2001, the first automated cutter was installed at VA-Varuste, which made the manufacturing process of boat canopies and boat cushions more efficient. A CNC bending machine was also acquired for the larger production facilities, which greatly enhanced the operations of the own metal department in terms of the production of canopy frames.
Around the same time, VA-Varuste also got its first foreign customers. Export operations actually started in 2001, when boat covers manufactured by VA-Varuste began to be delivered to Uttern boats.
Equipment for boats and cars
The car side’s products were still a large part of the selections in the 2000s, and VA-Varuste was involved in the founding of Wälly Oy in 2005, which focused on various car brand-specific protective blankets and other products, such as seat covers and thermal blankets for motorhomes. From those times, quick covers for cars and thermal blankets for motorhomes have remained in the product range. However, the products on the car side have not been limited to just these two products, because in the summer of 2014, seasonal covers for motorhomes and caravans were launched. Since then, VA-Varuste has been a familiar sight at Caravan fairs as well.
The product range on the boat side has also been expanded. In 2011, the first seat from our own chair collection, VA-Pro, was launched. In recent years, the collection has expanded to include different seats, all of which are united by a stylish appearance and good design.
The boat industry was booming in the first few years of the 21st century and, to meet growing demand, VA-Varuste built its own factory on the shores of Lake Kallavesi in the Siikaniemi area of Kuopio. VA-Varuste moved to these 2,600 square meter premises in 2006, and still operates in the same premises.
A couple of years later, it was time for a generational change, when Ville Vainikainen took over as CEO in 2008 after his father Toivo Vainikainen retired from CEO duties. Toivo continued as chairman of the board until 2012, until Mikko Vainikainen, who works as a technical director at VA-Varuste, continued his father’s duties as chairman of the board. The brothers currently jointly own VA-Varuste and are responsible for business operations.
From the shore of Kallavesi to the waters of the world
In the 2010s, VA-Varuste has strongly tried to expand export operations. VA-Varuste was able to participate in the Golden Gavia internationalization competition held by Pohjois-Savo ELY Center in 2013, and in this competition received an honorable mention in 2014.
In the same year, a big step towards the international market was taken when the subsidiary VA-Varuste Poland was founded. The company started operations in October 2014 in rented premises in Suwałki, Northern Poland. After the operation started, a site was searched for the factory, and in the summer of 2017, the opening ceremony of our own, new factory was celebrated. VA-Varuste Poland now operates on modern premises with a floor area of 2,400 square metres, serving customers all over Europe.
From the very beginning, the drawings of all the planned products have been kept on file. At first, the patterns were in paper form, but starting in 2001, the formulas started to be digitized. The digital age has also come to the design side, as nowadays most of the design of business customers’ products takes place in 3D design. Here, based on the 3D models supplied by the customer, new products can be designed for boats without a design visit to the prototype boat.
Many benefits have been gained from saving drawings. At the point when boat covers made for factories have started to age, it has been possible to offer boat owners new boat covers with original patterns, even for very old boat models. There has also been a lot of demand for new canopies abroad, as most of the boats manufactured in Finland have been exported, especially to the Nordic countries.
Currently, the VA-Varuste group serves business and consumer customers all over Europe with a force of nearly 200 employees in a versatile and professional manner. More than 36,000 different boat side canopies, hoods and covers are sent to the world every year. VA-Varuste is currently the largest boat canopy manufacturer in Europe.