Pirkkala-based Black Donuts Engineering has been awarded EU funding for new innovation research. The company offers consulting and testing services for tire industry worldwide.
In the beginning of 2016, several Finnish companies received a grant of 50 000 Euros by the European Commission under its Horizon 2020 program, supporting hand-picked businesses with global ambitions. The grants are meant for investigating new markets or development possibilities for a promising product. One of the companies was Black Donuts Engineering, which has rapidly established its position as one of the leading tire developers and testers in and outside Europe.
Black donuts – that is black and round tires. The original English brand name is easy to remember, especially as 99 per cent of the company’s customers are outside Finland, says CEO Kai Hauvala. According to Hauvala, the company can expect remarkable growth in both developed and developing markets. Tire production is constantly moving towards areas of positive economic growth. However, Hauvala points out that even when the manufacturing takes place in customers’ factories abroad, the tires are still designed and developed at the company’s headquarters in Pirkkala.
– The tires are distributed to Finland and tested on Finnish, Swedish and other European test tracks. Thus, in addition to our own employees we also indirectly employ various subcontractors. At the moment, the corporation has approximately 50 employees and we are constantly recruiting new workforce to support the company’s growth. In general, jobs in this field are declining, which makes Black Donuts an interesting option for tire professionals.
Demand creates jobs
After graduating as an automotive engineer, Hauvala worked for almost 20 years at Nokian Tyres. In 2011, he and a few colleagues decided to start offering consulting services for tire development and testing as well as for production and quality improvement.
– We believed that there must be demand for a modern developer and consultant who doesn’t produce the tires. After some research and benchmarking the idea became brighter and we realized that the company would be first of its kind in the whole world. There was a clear gap in the market for these services. So we are selling Finnish state of the art engineering, and we also have own patents, Hauvala explains.
Co-operation with research institutions
According to Hauvala, the company’s objective is to develop first class innovations and sell their knowhow globally. Thanks to the founders’ extensive networks, Black Donuts has succeeded in building a broad customer base that includes a majority of the biggest global tire manufacturers.
In addition to the parent company, the corporation consists of the testing company BD Testing, and WD Racing, known for its innovative tire manufacturing technology. The growth strategy of the corporation is based on constant product development and new innovations, says Hauvala.
The company’s efforts to meet its strategic targets are supported by development projects like a technological development project of studded tires, supported by Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, and several co-projects with universities. According to Hauvala, Black Donuts has a stable shareholder base, which also includes nearly all employees.
– As we are constantly developing new services we are also actively applying for external financing. Our plan is to build an R&D center for tire prototype testing. It would be first of its kind and would enable us a totally manufacturer-independent tire development. Creating such a new service entity will definitely require resources and time, but during the research process we have become convinced about the right direction for the development. Our Horizon 2020 grant will be used for this new innovation; its market research and business plan finalizing.
Tire factory projects require professional consulting.
Black Donuts Engineering Inc.
Employees: ca. 50
Revenue 2015: > 10 million Euros
Growth estimate: positive