Local maritime cluster strengthened as Norwegian Dokka Fasteners expands manufacturing base in Klaipeda

The world’s leading manufacturer of industrial fasteners has chosen the Lithuanian port city as the ideal location for a new plant primarily supplying the global wind energy market. “With our factory up and running in record time, I heartily recommend Klaipeda as an ideal location for maritime investment. It has everything you need,” says CEO Dennis Birresborn.

The Norwegian company Dokka Fasteners, part of the multinational Würth Group, manufactures premium quality high strength fasteners used in demanding industrial applications. Its market includes wind turbines, where it provides components for everything from foundations to towers, cells and blades; oil and gas and other offshore applications; and heavy machinery, including cranes and steel structures.

Dennis Birresborn, CEO of Dokka Fasteners (Photo: Dokka Fasteners)

Supply chain constraints
When reviewing its strategy in the wind energy market, Dokka Fasteners faced a challenge as its manufacturing center in Norway has constraints in the supply chain due to the distance by report to key customers and raw material suppliers.

“Our competitive market is under severe price pressure, so we wanted to improve our supply chain by expanding our business closer to customers and raw material suppliers,” says Birresborn. “We were also struggling to fulfill some orders in Norway due to high costs. At the same time, competitors were entering the market with products at prices we could not match. We wanted to establish a new factory elsewhere for more standardized products with less complex production than our fully robotized factory in Norway. We just wanted to open new markets from a convenient and profitable location. »

The company set out to explore its options against a list of key criteria. “The location needed to provide a business-friendly environment with minimal red tape, as well as easy access from Norway and Germany. It had to be close to a port to import raw materials and ship heavy goods. We were open-minded, but preferred a location in the EU and Eurozone that offers a pool of local talent as well as suitable available premises,” says Birresborn.

Interior of the premises of Dokka Fasteners in Klaipeda (Photo: Dokka Fasteners)

Winning IDs
Dokka Fasteners considered up to 15 locations in Asia, Eastern and Southern Europe and the Baltics. Klaipeda and similar port cities like Gdansk were on the radar from the start.

“We opted for Klaipeda because it has everything we need. Lithuania is part of the EU and the euro zone. It is also in the top 10 countries in the world according to the Ease of Doing Business index. I can certainly say that the creation of our local joint stock company went very well. Also, there are a lot of young people with good skills who speak excellent English,” says Birresborn.

He adds that Lithuania has good infrastructure, including the efficient port of Klaipeda. “The country is very keen to develop compared to other countries in Europe at the same level, but where things seemed to have stopped. He pushes to improve all the time, which reflects our own philosophy.

Culture was another determining factor. “The Baltic States are historically closely aligned with Scandinavia in terms of values, which facilitates teamwork and dialogue. Klaipeda also met our travel criteria as Palanga International Airport makes it easy to access,” says Birresborn.

Potential for collaboration
Forging deeper ties with the established maritime cluster of Klaipeda will undoubtedly benefit Dokka Fasteners in the future. “We haven’t yet taken advantage of local academic institutions for R&D purposes, but I think there’s good potential for collaboration there as well,” says Birresborn.

Dokka Fasteners chose to start by renting premises while it proves the business case for the new operation. “Lithuania is very strong in logistics and there is a lot of this real estate stock, not so many production-oriented sites. We looked at many places and finally found one that met our high standards. This required additional investments for the modifications and we now have three production cells, one of which is robotic. Maybe in five years we’ll be looking at building a whole new factory from scratch,” he says.

Contribute to the local economy
Birresborn notes that in Lithuania it is easy to find medium-skilled administrative staff, for example for purchases and sales, but more complicated to find highly-skilled professionals like electricians, engineers, etc. “There is the same shortage of professional skills as all other European countries, but we managed to find the profiles we were looking for by ourselves and with the help of recruitment consultants,” he explains. “We now have 22 full-time local staff and plan to employ up to 50 people over the next three years. Our intention is for the factory to be part of an efficient supply chain for the global market and we have clear ambitions for growth.

He warmly recommends Klaipeda to other Norwegian marine equipment suppliers looking to expand to an attractive location with an attractive cost base. “Adding jobs strengthens the local economy, so we are actively contributing to local society,” he says.

“Quite a feat”
Birresborn summarizes that everything went according to plan for the production to be operational. “I’m proud of how quickly things have progressed. We started the business in February, moved into the factory in March, and shipped our first orders to customers in May. It’s quite an achievement. I also think that the key has been the good cooperation between the headquarters in Norway, our Danish entity Dokka Fasteners and the newly founded company in Lithuania. Overall we are very happy and the support from Klaipeda ID has been invaluable.

He was also impressed with Klaipeda as a place to visit. “It’s on the coast with lots of nature around. As a medium-sized city, everything is on your doorstep, but of course that depends on what you are looking for.

Diana Manko, business manager at city development agency Klaipeda ID, concluded: “Wind energy is growing rapidly around the world and is already driving our national renewable energy goals. As a new member of this ecosystem, Dokka Fasteners once again proves that Lithuania offers an excellent business climate. Their presence can potentially open the door to further development of the wind turbine supply chain. I’m glad they chose to expand to Klaipeda.

Maritime stakeholders interested in learning more about doing business in Klaipeda should contact the Klaipeda ID team for a free online consultation. Please visit www.klaipedaid.lt for contact details.
Source: Dokka Attachments

Marjorie N. McClure