Like father, like sons. Shipbuilding through generations
Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice. This proverb has been proven accurate in the Visasalo family not only once but twice.
It has already been 24 years since Jukka Visasalo, FCR’s current Director of Operations, received a phone call from a friend who was looking for a reliable shipbuilder for a month-long project.
“First, I was mainly involved with projects on cabins, but as their production became more serialized, I became interested in the public areas and restaurants of boats. Almost by coincidence, we established our jointly owned limited company, FCR Finland, in 2009. The first project completed by the company was the modernization of the buffet restaurant of Viking Isabella over a docking period of two weeks.”
Shipbuilding and refurbishment, in particular, need to be done according to a tight schedule. Ships only generate revenue when they are operable, so they are docked for as short periods as possible for alteration work purposes.
“Our management of materials is heavily based on the Lean philosophy. One refurbishment project may require a hundred containers of materials for FCR, and we are only one of several parties involved. “
The next generation of refurbishment
This article features 60% of the five male representatives of the Visasalo family. Why have Viktor and Verneri followed in their father’s footsteps? Did the father bring his work home or take his sons to work?
“There must have been something wrong with our heads. Seven years ago, all three of us were about to travel to New Caledonia, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, for a project, but Verneri was left out. 17-year-olds are considered to be child labor there,” the sons say, laughing.
Viktor has already traveled to 50 countries for work in his 10 years at FCR. His father’s record is far superior, of course. The youngest of the trio, Verneri, is based in Finland, where he is in charge of logistics, among other things.
“In more than 20 years, the level of occupational safety and general work ethic has improved remarkably. Different teams of builders compete with each other, but whenever a ship is docked, the companies all pull together.”
“We were involved in establishing the legendary Finnish Shipbuilding Mafia with its tongue-in-cheek name. Finnish people are willing to help each other, regardless of the company they represent. Everything is accounted for later on. Our communality has spread across the entire industry, and it is not something that only Finns experience, although I think it is in our blood,” say the Visasalos.
Time to enjoy the fruits of labor
When asked what their dream project would include, the Visasalos consider their answer for a moment. A consensus between the two generations is quickly found, however. “Our expertise could be best displayed in a big and comprehensive restaurant area refurbishment project. The project would include lots of details, interesting material, a lot of time, for once, and an unlimited budget. We are about to begin a very interesting project where we will dive deep into the structures of a boat and remove an entire deck from public access. We love challenges.“
Have the Visasalos ever spent a holiday cruising on a ship in the building or refurbishment of which they were involved? “No, never. Cruising is a wonderful way to spend your free time, but it is intrinsic for us to remain active and do things. We build old cars, go boating with boats that have far too large engines, and ski.”
“Maybe we will go cruising when we are retired. Or maybe dad will need to be assisted by a walking frame – so that he can work,” the sons say, laughing.