In this series, we introduce you to the Larox brand through the eyes of four remarkable individuals. These former Larox employees, now part of the Metso family, share their unique experiences and stories, giving us a glimpse into the brand's evolution and its enduring connection with customers.
Paul de la Durantaye, Consultant: Joined Larox in 1984, Paul's background in mineral processing engineering has made him intimately familiar with the world of Larox filters. His Larox journey began when he received a job offer while working with a gold exploration team in Alaska. From there, Paul's role evolved, and he became a pivotal figure in Larox's testing and commissioning efforts in Canada.
Tommi Lanki, Sales and Technical Sales Support Manager, Europe Market Area: Tommi's journey with Larox started in 1998 as a testing engineer. What was initially a plan to gather job experience turned into a remarkable career. His work took him across continents, from Europe to the United States, and eventually into sales. With responsibilities spanning different regions, Tommi has had the opportunity to witness Larox's impact on a global scale.
Petri Saira, Senior Manager, Concentrates Filtration: Petri's Larox story began during his student days in 1986 when he got the chance to work on a filter assembly during a Christmas break. Over the years, he embraced various roles within Larox, from product development to quality systems and sales. Petri's journey is a testament to the diverse opportunities and rich culture that the brand offers.
Lee Wright, Senior Product Technical Support Expert: Lee's association with Larox began in 1995 as a Commissioning Engineer for Svedala Pumps & Process, when he was approached for an interview in Lappeenranta. His educational background in Control Engineering and instrumentation paved the way for a career that traversed the Mineral Process industry. From commissioning engineer to Larox, Lee's story is one of growth and adaptation.
The beginning of Larox
Larox was founded by Nuutti Vartiainen in 1977. Based in the city of Lappeenranta, the company started out with simple vacuum disc filters and later developed into what is to this day a flagship product, the Larox PF, pressure filter. In the early days, the company was called Lappeenrannan Konepaja. However, the company got international awareness quickly due to its high-technology products. The Larox name was therefore born from the need to find a name that can be easily pronounced across the world. Quickly, Larox established itself as the alternative to more conventional ways of filtering concentrates in base metal mines.
“Up until that time the conventional technology was to use a vacuum disc filter and a dryer, which is not good for the environment because of the gas consumption and other factors,” says Paul de la Durantaye, describing the birth of the Larox PF filter. Roughly at the same time, Larox tapped into the chemical industry.
“What's maybe not so well known is that Larox was involved in a whole bunch of exotic products like cone classifiers, twin vortex cyclones, jet milling. However, they were dropped from the scope eventually, so Larox could focus on filtration,” explains Paul.
”Consistently over time the brand name in filtration has grown and diversified into so many different processes and applications: mining, petrochemical, food, pharmaceutical, a wide range industrial processes and chemical applications. This allowed us to make the brand name known in so many new markets and countries”, Lee Wright says.
Although the Larox product selection has grown, the original pressure filter, Larox PF, is still perhaps the most recognized due to its long history and strong placement in the markets. ”If we talk about Larox out there in the world today, everything comes back to the Larox PF filter”, Lanki states, and continues: “The Larox brand is synonymous with world class pressure filters, it is seen as the industry pioneer, not just a first-class pressure filter. The slogan ‘Larox separates the best from the rest’ is undoubtedly true and this will never be forgotten.”
At the moment, our Larox product family consists of five great filters which can be used across hundreds of applications, including the ones Lee mentioned earlier.
There was a vision to make Larox a worldwide brand right from the start, despite being Finland based. By the mid to late 80s, offices in Denver and Sydney became the predominant sales areas for the company. Offices quickly evolved and were established around the world, mostly selling into the mining industry. It can be said that the company focused not only on making quality products, but also on marketing from the very beginning: within the first few years, the company started publishing Larox News, a 10 – 15-page newsletter covering the brand’s success stories as well as reference pages and case studies written by customers.
“It’s amazing how a company from Lappeenranta became truly international rather quickly”, de la Durantaye says. ”I remember back in the day I think there were around 120 employees total worldwide. And that included the manufacturing facility in Lappeenranta. We were a big little company.”