Cosmopolitan pigment expert
Based in Turku Science Park Ltd’s Smart Chemistry Park in Raisio, FP-Pigments is an innovative trailblazer. The company holds some twenty patents for its self-developed pigment which is an ecological alternative to the expensive titanium dioxide. Markus Blomquist has been one of the company’s key people almost since the beginning.
Paving the way requires enthusiasm and stamina. Markus Blomquist seems to have plenty of both when he recounts the story of FP-Pigments with glowing eyes. He joined the company shortly after it started and the success has kept his motivation high. Mr Blomquist likes especially the fact that in a small organisation you can participate in almost all operations.
FP-Pigments has a total of around 70 employees, of which six work in Smart Chemistry Park. Including partner companies Chemec and CH-Polymers, there are some 30 employees in Raisio. The R&D operations have been concentrated to Raisio while the head office is in Haukilahti district in Espoo. The force behind the companies is the Maijala family which has a long history in Turku.
”We had premises here in the chemistry building already before the Smart Chemistry Park was set up, but it’s really good to have a place like this. There are great opportunities for co-operation, and some companies have really interesting products. We also have something to give to companies that have not yet proceeded as far as FP-Pigments. Many enterprises and government representatives come to see this place”, Mr Blomquist says.
Knowledge on pigments throughout the career
Markus Blomquist has experience in pigments both as a researcher and initiator of industrial production, and he knows the business, global markets, clientele, and marketing channels.
”Pigments are used in paints together with binders which are manufactured by CH Polymers. The plastics, paper and printing industries also need pigments to increase opacity. Around 60 percent of the six million tonnes of titanium dioxide produced globally is used for paints, and the total value of the titanium dioxide market is some 11.4 billion euros. The particle developed by us replaces 10–50 per cent of the titanium dioxide, and its advantages include excellent cost-efficiency and ecological aspects.”
Mr Blomquist has left his mark in the company’s production plants in Finland, Germany and the United States. He is the Managing Director of the German company and headed the founding project of the plant there in 2008 which started with choosing the location. The plant is located south of Berlin in the Leuna industry park where carbon dioxide is recovered from material flows to be used as raw material. The US plant was opened two years later, and another production line was built in Germany in 2014.
”It’s sensible to place the plants near large markets because of the transport costs, and it also benefits us that the product is considered local, although it has been developed in Finland. Our pigment is a completely new kind of product, and that’s why it always takes time to convince the customers, but those that have chosen our products have stuck with them.”
The goal is to multiply the business
The products of FP-Pigments are already exported to 50–60 countries, and in addition to own plants they are manufactured under licence in Japan. The most important thing in opening up new markets is to find good local agents and distribution channels. The turnover has increased in five years from under one million to 20 million euros.
”We definitely have a positive outlook, and the goal is to multiply the business as quickly as possible; we have the required capacity. In a small company it’s extremely important that there is a strong team that wants to grow, and that’s exactly what we have got. Traditional markets also offer opportunities for new companies, but it takes R&D and sales know-how which generates competitiveness.”
In addition to opacity pigments, FP-Pigments develops new products, such as pigments intended for use as oxygen, fat and moisture barriers in food packages. They are ecological products that improve, for instance, the preserving of food. The key qualities of the operations are efficiency and ecological aspects, so the products are manufactured in closed processes that generate no emissions.
”Our carbon footprint is about 75% smaller compared to titanium dioxide”, Mr Blomquist says.
New friends from international operations
Markus Blomquist considers his job very interesting, and it has added and international aspect to the life of the whole family. His wife has also worked abroad, except for the time spent in Norway when the two oldest children were born. Markus Blomquist worked in Norway for three years. During that time he also had projects in the United States, and the family followed him there. In the early years of his career, Mr Blomquist worked in Switzerland and Germany.
”We found new friends in all those places and we still keep in touch. In Norway, I had a shared sailing boat with my colleagues, and I couldn’t imagine life without international contacts.”
It’s understandable, because he lived in Germany as a child and started his school there. That gave him good language proficiency, although he knew no German when he went to school.
Enchanted by classic boats
Markus Blomquist is the Commodore of the Airisto Segelsällskap Yacht Club and has participated, for instance, in arranging a Scandinavian regatta for classic boats in Sandhamn, Sweden. Classic boats are important to him, and he is happy to see that the old Ruissalo shipyard is being renovated and boat building operations are run there again. Mr Blomquist will take his classic boat to the Hanko regatta in July. The family shares the yachting hobby, and all three sons are in sea scouts and sail on dinghies.
”Our mahogany boat, number six, was built 90 years ago and was designed by the Swedish Yngve Holm. Classics last a long time when you grind them lightly, just what a new layer of varnish requires. We like to go sailing with the whole family, although it’s a bit crowded for five, and the bags have to be lifted out under the awning for the night. In the boat we’re close to water and it moves smoothly. You can also stay overnight in natural harbours, because the boat is long and the keel draught is only 1.60 metres. We prefer to arrive on and depart from the shore by sail.”
Mr Blomquist has been playing the piano since childhood and still plays for fun, while the other family members play different instruments.
Text and photos: Anne Kortela
Born in Tampere in 1971
Started school in Germany, matriculation examination in Kotka
Managing Director, FP Pigments GmbH
1998 M.Sc. (Tech.), Åbo Akademi University, major subjects chemical
technology and industrial engineering
3/2008- FP-Pigments GmbH, Leuna, Germany, desk in Smart Chemistry
Park in Raisio
1–3/2008 FP-Pigments Oy, Turku, Business Development Manager
2002–2007 Specialty Minerals (Minerals Technologies MTX, parent company),
Global Market Development Manager
2002–2006 Specialty Minerals, European research centre, Kaarina, Reseacher/
2001–2002 Dynea, Norway, Maintenance Manager/formaldehyde and resin factory
1999–2001 Dyno Industrier, Norway/USA, Project Director, R&D
1997–1998 Papierfabrik Niederauer Mühle, Germany, Project Engineer
1995–1996 Papierfabrik Widmer-Walty, Switzerland, Assistant to Plant Director
Founder of the Swiss company PME GmbH (currently part of IBB-Engineering)
Wife Maija Blomquist, D.Sc. (Tech.), Quality Manager, Kiiltoclean Oy; three sons
aged 16, 14 and 8 years
Sailing together with the family on a classic boat, yacht racing, playing the piano
Commodore, Airisto Segelsällskap Yacht Club, 2013–
Board member, Scandinavian Classic Yacht Trust
Chairman of the Board, Beckholmens Marina
Rotary, Odd Fellow