Some background on Finland and the Finnish licensees.

The Republic of Finland (Soumi) lies in northern Europe bordered by Norway in the north, on the east and south by Russia and the Gulf of Finland, on the south west by the Baltic Sea and on the west by the Gulf of Bothnia and Sweden. Nearly one third of the country lies in the arctic circle. In total Finland covers an area of 130,559 sq. miles, 338,145 UK covers 50,300 sq. mls.), almost 10% of it being water having about 60,000 lakes. It is divided into 6 regions with 19 provinces the capital being Helsinki.

The temperature throughout the year ranges from about 15 degrees C to minus 9 degrees C and there is snow cover for 5 to 7 months of the year.

Timber is Finland`s most valuable asset, about three quarters of the country is covered in forest consisting of spruce, pine, silver birch and various other types of deciduous trees. In the north about one third of the country is peat bog. A wide range of metallic ores are mined commercially.

The vast majority of the population speak Finnish while the remainder are Swedish-speaking and tend to keep themselves separate from the mainstream social activity. Both languages are officially recognised.

At around the time that the first licenses were granted the population was estimated to be 4.116 million which had risen by 1995 to an estimated 5.116 million, two thirds of the population living in the south of the country.

In 1955 the domestic revenue was estimated at Mk.223,968,100,000 and expenditure at Mk.230,895,300,000. (Markka 646 = £1.00). In 1953 imports from the UK were estimated at £31,741,840 and exports to UK at £58,994,344. Timber and timber-based industries are the backbone of the economy although the manufacturing industries employ more people. Pulp, paper and the woodworking sector dominate; in the mid 1990s about 1.4 million tonnes of newsprint was produced annually. Production of sawn wood was about 9.7 million cu. metres accounting for about 40% of annual exports. The first known habitation in Finland dates from about 8000BC.

For centuries Finland, being situated between two powerful neighbours, Sweden and Russia, was subject to their political, economic and religious differences and many wars took place over their territory. They were first under Swedish domination and then, from the early 19th. century subject to Russia, being regarded as a province. The social unrest in the early 20th. century in Russia encouraged the Finns to set up a reformed parliament in 1906 and universal suffrage for both men and women over the age of 25 was introduced establishing the most modern parliamentary system in Europe.

Finland remained neutral in World War I but, as revolution swept Russia, the Finnish parliament voted on 15 November 1917 for independence which Russia had no alternative but to grant on 6 December. As in Russia there was a struggle between Red and White Guards the latter being led by the Finnish hero General Mannerheim, who triumphed, declaring the communist party illegal.

Again, at the outset of World War II, Finland declared itself neutral but Russia, anxious to secure the approaches to Leningrad, demanded an exchange of territory which the Finns refused. Soviet armies invaded Finland on 30 November 1939 and the Russo-Finnish Winter War commenced the Finns giving a good account of themselves. But eventually superior Russian strength prevailed and the Finns were forced to sue for peace.

After Germany invaded Russia on 22 June 1941 the Finns had no choice but to accede to German demands that their troops operate from Finnish territory against Russia which led to Finnish cities being bombed so Finland declared war on Russia. UK therefore declared war on Finland in December 1941 and the US broke off relations. Despite a large concentration of German troops being present on its territory, Finland signed a peace treaty with USSR in September 1944 resulting in the German army seeking revenge by laying waste a large portion of the country.

Much of Finland`s post war political and economic activity was influenced by USSR and it was very careful to maintain good relations with its huge and powerful neighbour.

Finland became an associate member of the European Economic Community in 1961 and a full member of the European Union in 1986. It has remained outside the European Monetary Union.

Mr. Walden owned Evoy Osakeyhtio which was engaged in the construction industry, therefore the products made by Evode Ltd. such as concrete additives and surface coatings would have been of interest for this company to take up on a licensee basis. It is therefor reasonable to assume that an approach was made by Mr. Walden to Evode to form an association, rather than the other way around. Despite the fact that, in correspondence, it was claimed the sales of the products licensed, in particular Evode Mellitol and Evode Rapid, had not lived up to expectations Evoy Oy continued the license for more than 10 years.

It is also reasonable to speculate that, through the offices of Mr. Walden who I believe was a board member of Yhtyneet Paperitehtaat Osakeyhtio (United Paper Mills) a licensee agreement was concluded with this company on 11 May 1957.

The company was known at Evode as Valke which was derived from Valkeakoski, the town where the chemical division was situated. Amongst the licensees Valke was unusual as it was part of a large concern, very much larger than the Evode Group.

Further speculation would suggest that, through Mr. Walden`s influence, Valke had been engaged in some aspects of the building industry long before the association with Evode by their claim concerning Valke “S” and having a PVA-based ceramic tile adhesive on their range previously. What was attractive to them was the technology and expertise which Evode Ltd. could offer in adhesives and sealants in which they had not been involved to this time and which could open up new avenues of sales.

Many exchange visits were made between Evode and Valke personnel. Rainer Oksanen the chief chemist of Valke was a well known face at Stafford as was Kari Palli the sales manager. On occasions we entertained Mr. Olli Parola who became the managing director of United Paper Mills.

WJ Langford - April 2004.