One big family

Orion’s first location is modest: a pharmaceutical workshop in the centre of Helsinki from 1917 to 1934. Erkki Leikola, who later became the President and CEO of Orion, looks back on the chaotic, cramped and dirty facilities next to a stable in amazement:

“I wondered at the time and have later often wondered how it was possible and permitted to run pharmaceutical operations in such facilities. Orders were taken in by telephone in a small room. A couple of ancient tablet machines were running in the same room. One employee took care of both duties.”

The facilities consist of six rooms, which house all operations, from the reception to the packaging of goods. Despite the modest facilities, there is a strong sense of community within the company: its 20 or so employees are like a big family.

“The salaries were quite low. It was not always enough to buy food, and when young men complained that they were always hungry, everyone was served free porridge and milk once a day.”

The marketing and deliveries of medicines also have a strong personal touch – literally: one sales representative takes care of all doctors in Finland and visits every one of them at least once every two years. Deliveries to nearby regions are transported by bicycle, often one tube or tablet container at a time, depending on the size of the order.