The company which became famous in Estonia for the production of car safety belts forty years ago is today a part of the international corporation Autoliv.
The history of AS Norma dates back to the 19th century, when in 1891 a tinsheet workshopwas founded in Tallinn. In 1957, Norma became the first factory in the Soviet Union to start manufacturingflashlights and in 1960 the company launched the manufacturing of electro-mechanical toys.
A new era in the history of Norma started in 1973, with the launch of the first industrial lot of car safety belts.Before then seat belts were not part of the equipment of Soviet cars, so the company ushered in a new era. Forty years on, the famous company in Estonia has grown into a valued unit of the Swedish corporation Autoliv. It employs over 750 staff and its product range has grown far beyond seat belts.
The Swedish car safety equipment manufacturer, Autoliv, bought a 51% share in Norma 15 years ago. The production of belts was transferred from Sweden to Estonia. In 2007, AS Norma began to sell components in foreign markets. In 2010, when the Swedes purchased Norma completely, there was a significant increase in the production of safety components, because in the same year Autoliv closed two of its factories in Germany and a large share of the production was transferred from there to Tallinn.
The turnover of AS Norma in 2013 was €61 million and profit €1.88 million. The turnover of the parent company Autoliv reached record highs. In 2013, Autoliv’s turnover was USD8.8 billion and the operating profit was USD761 million.
Increasing added value is a priority
Peep Siimon, the managing director at Norma, confirms the main competence of the company is producing technologically complex components for the automotive industry, including the construction and production of required tools. To that end, Norma buys services and goods from about 300 enterprises in Estonia. “This competence enables us to produce and create products that meet high requirements for safety equipment, primarily for Autoliv factories all over the world. As parts of such products, our components reach practically all car manufacturers,” explains Siimon.
Outside Europe, the products of Norma are exported to Russia, the United States and Asia. “We may claim therefore that one is bound to find a component made by Norma in a luxury Bentley, as well as in an old Lada,“ Siimon says. “At the same time the share of Norma’s traditional exports to Russia has declined and will continue to do so with the end of the production of Ladas. The main market is in Europe, although the United States and Asia are also important.” As Autoliv cooperates with almost all car manufacturers throughout the world, we can say that Norma as part of the corporation helps save the lives of over 30,000 people each year because of the safety systems installed in vehicles.
Siimon claims that raising the added value of products is more important than geographical expansion. “We wish to develop to become the producer and supplier of acknowledged complex and dependable components and assemblies directly to the international automotive industry. The keys to success are the ability to work together and collaboration between smart people.” However, Siimon emphasises that it is customers who hold the real key to success, which should not be forgotten in implementing changes.
Modern production environment as a motivator
Norma’s approach to its employees is to motivate them. “The main motivators are the modern production environment and the best management systems in the automotive industry, the opportunity for rotation in different factories, stable long-term jobs and our unified team, training events and in-service training opportunities, to name just a few. We also offer great international work experience through projects and our daily work, as well as opportunities to work in Autoliv companies all over the world,” says Siimon.
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