OPM International is a Finnish Distributor for Navico and the largest in EMEA. In this interview, its CEO, Anssi Lehtinen, tells us more about Lowrance’s presence in Finland.

OPM is Navico’s largest Distributor in EMEA, but could you tell us more about OPM and your team?

OPM International is Navico’s Lowrance Distributor for Finland and the market leader in fishing tackle business. We sell about one million products to over 600 Finnish shops every year. We are a 30 year old company founded by Mr Matti Seppälä. Our team of 22 staff is really strong and we are all passionate fishermen that love this game!

What does fishing/boating mean to you?

For me personally, fishing is everything. I caught my first trout when my dad took me fishing from a very young age. Every day in kindergarten, a friend and I played ‘fishing’ while the other kids played football.

That feeling you get when you hit a good golf shot, or that feeling of riding a cool motorcycle. It’s fantastic, but it doesn’t compare to when you are out at sea and a salmon strikes! It’s not all about the strikes either: it’s the clean and fresh air, using the best tools, and hanging out with your friends.

Tell us a bit about your market (i.e. – the good, the bad, and where the opportunities lie?)

Finland has more than 160,000 lakes and fishing is very popular here. With one fishing license, you can go fishing anywhere you want in the country.

Finland as a country is struggling financially though, so elite level products are a little expensive for the market because people have limited disposable income. For us, Lowrance’s mid-range products perform the best.

The average age of a Lowrance consumer in Finland is 40+, with Finland generally having an elderly population (retired). Having said that, ice fishing is a huge market and we’re seeing a resurgence, particularly in the younger population which is a big opportunity for us.

OPM has won multiple Navico Distributor Awards over the years, including the “Navico Pillars Award” in 2020. What is the secret to your continued success?

Passion plays a big part. We may not always have the best sonar on the market (although we do right now…J!) but our team’s passion to be the number one brand in Finland is the defining factor. We keep the Lowrance flag up on the mast and go full speed ahead!

We also pride ourselves on having good stock and being very fast on deliveries. In a way, it’s old fashioned to have such a massive warehouse, but it’s a great differentiator for us, as we are always able to deliver quickly and reliably.

The final area that defines are success is on price. We offer the best value for money and the cheapest access to Lowrance products in Finland.

What do you think is the key to a successful supplier / distributor relationship?

At OPM we are very straight-talking and direct in our approach. We always want answers and to be kept in the loop on issues such as supply and pricing.

I believe that all good relationships are based upon respect and communication. We need to have the same goal, the same target, language and passion. You are not aligned on these unless you have good communication!

How long have you been working with Navico and what is the relationship like?

We been working with Navico since Navico acquired Lowrance. OPM was also a Lowrance distributor even before Navico started to work with Lowrance. I think that our relationship is getting stronger every day!