The Ahlstrom company was founded in 1851 when Antti Ahlström (1827-1896) started to run the business, which consisted of a grain mill, a rag paper mill, a ceramics work shop, and a share in a sawmill.
  l860s     In 1866-1874, shipping was Antti Ahlström's prime field of business. Shipping gave him the venture capital to build his sawmill and ironworks empire.
  1870s       Antti Ahlström became a major industrialist when he bought three iron workshops. For almost the whole of the 1870s, the gross value of the ironworks' output was greater than that of the sawmills.
  1880s and 1890s     The Ahlstrom company was expanded by the acquisition of 18 sawmills. Antti Ahlström also bought an ironworks that specialized in converted products.
  1900s       Ahlstrom established the Kauttua groundwood plant, power station and wrapping paper mill. In the eve of the First World War the company decided to build a sulphite pulp mill and a paper mill in Varkaus.
  The First World War       In 1915, Ahlstrom acquired the Karhula works. The various plants - a pulp mill, a glassworks, an engineering plant and a steam-powered sawmill - were planned and built from the start to support each other's operations. In 1917, the Iittala glass factory was acquired as well.
  The Interwar Period     In timber production Ahlstrom moved towards fewer and larger units. The company had four state-of-the-art woodpulp mills. Paper production began in Varkaus in 1921 on Europe's biggest paper machine. The Kauttua mill underwent evolution from brown wrapping paper through newsprint to sulphite paper. The glassworks and engineering industry grew in importance. Karhula engineering works specialized in forest technology and pumps. Ahlstrom started to co-operate with the Swedish-Norwegian Kamyr company that was engaged in technical development work. In 1931 Ahlstrom was Finland's largest industrial enterprise.
  The Second World War       Like others, Ahlstrom's engineering was involved in the war effort. At its height, over 60 % of the orders were for the armed forces.
  War Reparations       War reparations were central to Ahlstrom's engineering. They accounted for 13-14% of all the deliveries made by the Finnish metal industry. For the Karhula engineering plant, reparation commitments meant the development of new products and testing machinery on the spot. After the war, Ahlstrom's industrial plants employed 11 000 people.
  1950s     The company's manufacturing plants were modernized. Chemical wood processing in Varkaus and engineering in Karhula were expanded especially vigorously. Karhula and Iittala achieved fame for their art glass design.
  1960s     In 1963, Ahlstrom acquired the majority holding in the Italian paper company, Cartiere Giacomo Bosso S.p.A. This made Ahlstrom a pioneer among major Finnish companies in internationalization. After an extensive investment program Bosso concentrated on the production of industrial and specialty papers.
  1970s       Varkaus paper mill made newsprint on large paper machines and in long production runs. In Kauttua shorter runs were produced on smaller machines. Filter paper was one of the most important products of the Bosso plants. Bosso held a 40% European market share in these products. Bosso and Kämmerer in Germany held a European market share of 40% in silicone release base papers. Ahlstrom's glass wool plants were expanded. Ahlstrom's plastics factory specialized in electrical installation accessories.
  1980s     Ahlstrom moved from bulk paper to specialty papers. The Varkaus forest industry was sold to Enso-Gutzeit and, as part of the deal, Ahlstrom acquired the whole of Enso's engineering business. Pulling out of newsprint production increased the relative value not only of Ahlstrom's specialty paper units but also of the Group's engineering. Whereas wood processing had been the company's biggest sector in the mid-1980s, the role of Ahlstrom's powerhouse was passed on to engineering in 1987.
  1990s     In the 90s Ahlstrom cleared the way to a more cohesive portfolio. Ahlstrom Pyropower and the glass industry were sold off. Taylorville filter paper mill in the USA, the packaging company Åkerlund & Rausing in Sweden, and the specialty paper company Sibille-Dalle in France were acquired. Ahlstrom sold its share in the electrical accessories group Lexel, and all its power assets in Finland. In line with the Group strategy created in the late 1990s, Ahlstrom will focus on specialty papers and advanced fiber web materials, at the same time maintaining a strategic position in flexible packaging.