UPM was established in autumn 1995 when Kymmene Corporation and Repola Ltd and its subsidiary United Paper Mills Ltd announced their merger. The new company, UPM-Kymmene, officially started its operations on 1 May 1996.
UPM has a long tradition in the Finnish forest industry. The group’s first mechanical pulp mill, paper mills and sawmills started operations in the early 1870s. Pulp production began in the 1880s and paper converting in the 1920s with plywood production starting the following decade.
The present group comprises some 100 production facilities, which were originally functioning as independent companies. Among others, the following companies have been merged into the group: Kymi, United Paper Mills, Kaukas, Kajaani, Schauman, Rosenlew, Raf. Haarla and Rauma-Repola’s forest industry operations.
The UPM griffin keeps guard over treasured forests
The part eagle and part lion in UPM’s logo is known as a griffin. Originally, it was a mythical beast, which was a popular heraldic symbol with its head and wings of an eagle and body and tail of a lion.
The oldest griffins can be found in the fables of Assyria and Babylon, but they subsequently appeared in many different guises in e.g. Egyptian and Persian art. They made their way to Europe via ancient Greece and the English word ‘griffin’ is in fact of Greek origin (Greek gryps, Latin gryphus), from which it passed into many of the modern languages of Europe (English griffin, French griffon, German der Greif, Swedish grip).
This legendary figure became the symbol of UPM as the result of a competition. Towards the end of the 19th century, it was decided there was a need for a distinctive trademark to be introduced, most notably for trade with Russia. One of the predecessors of the present UPM Corporation, Kymmene Aktiebolag, turned to two well-known artists, Hugo Simberg and Louis Sparre, with a request for a suitable design. The illustration of a griffin drawn by Simberg was the chosen winner and purchased by the company in 1899. The image was thereafter approved for official use a couple of years later.
One very probable reason for choosing a mythological animal is the symbolic message of the griffin, an animal that transferred to a northern context, watched over the green gold inherent in the forests. Today the UPM symbol is the oldest corporate logo used continuously in Finland throughout its history.