Finnish American Chamber of Commere

About FACC

History

A total of 25 men representing Finnish paper, pulp, plywood, prefab houses, furniture and a number of other export industries and banking, travel promotion, army surplus purchasing and consular services, gathered at newly opened Finland House Restaurant on June 7, 1948, and founded the Finnish Businessmen’s Luncheon Club in New York. Bob Flander was elected first chairman of the club (1948-50), followed by Gunnar Rudbäck (1951), and Harry Griffin (1952).

A luncheon attendance increased, the idea of a more formal organization began to gain popularity, and on January 13, 1953, the Finnish-American Commerce Association, Inc. was established, with Dr. V.O. Järvinen as the first chairman (1953), followed by W.A. Kirk of W.A. Kirk & Co. (1954), Mauri Piironen (1955), Jack McGuirk of the Madden Corporation (1956), Toivo Santalahti of Finwood Industries (1957), Earl B. Hollis of Moore-McCormack Line (1958).

The membership increased steadily, and when the new by-laws had been drawn up, the Finnish American Chamber of Commerce was ready for incorporation. The formal announcement of the establishment of the chamber was made at a meeting prior to a gala reception at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on December 9, 1958.

Almost a year later the Helsinki support group decided to form the Helsinki Chapter of the Finnish-American Chamber on November 4, 1959. The first Board of Directors consisted of the following corporate leaders: Matti Virkkunen of KOP, president, Ilmari Voionmaa of FFTA, Hans Ahlstrom of A. Ahlström Oy, Tor Haglund of Union Bank of Finland, Wm. Lehtinen of Enso-Gutzeit Oy, I.O. Nurmela of Kesko Oy, Mauri Piironen of Finnlines Ltd, Kauno Rintakoski of Finnpap, Paul Suni of Pan Am, G. Zilliacus of Oy Esso Ab, and Antero Partanen of FFTA.

Finnish subsidiaries and other businesses made gradually headway in the Midwest, and twenty-five trade-oriented invididuals formed a chapter of the Finnish American Chamber of Commerce at a meeting in Chicago on May 18, 1961.

Two years later, the Finnish American Chamber of Commerce on the Pacific Coast was established in Los Angeles, CA, on July 18, 1963. The first election meeting was held on January 27, 1964.

A Canada Finland Chamber of Commerce was established in Toronto in the spring of 1972, and Montreal based chamber was founded in 1978. The two names were dropped from the FACC listing at the end of 1980.

The Finnish American Chamber of the Southeast was founded on April 27, 1981, in Atlanta, GA. The Finnish American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast held its inaugural luncheon on October 14, 1981, at the Capital City Club in Atlanta, GA.

The Seattle-Portland has had a considerable Nordic ethnic population,
and so the Finnish American Chamber of Commerce of the Northwest was established on June 10, 1981, in Bellevue, WA. The new chamber held its first annual meeting in Seattle, WA, on December 7, 1981.

The Finnish American Business Association of Miami-Coral Gables was born on June 3, 1982. However, after May 8, 1991, there were no meetings until April 13, 1993, when the Board of Directors decided to dissolve FACC-Miami.

The Finnish American Chamber of Commerce of the Southwest was incorporated on September 19, 1983, in Houston, TX, and held its first luncheon meeting on January 10, 1984, in cooperation with the Port of Houston Authority and the Houston World Trade Association. The chamber ended its activities at the end of 1990's. The Finnish-American Business Guild in Irving, Texas, was established in 2002 as a subdivision of the Irving Sister Cities of the Greater Irving - Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce. The Guild is also affiliated with the Finnish-American Chamber of Commerce.

A membership meeting was held on August 19, 1985, in Alaska, and FACC-Alaska organized events until June 10, 1989.

The Finnish-American Business Council of the Greater Washington Area (FABC) was established in 2002 by 17 individuals and eight corporations, and on the initiative of Mr. Kari Janhunen of the Embassy of Finland/Finpro in Washington DC and Mr. Jerome Akman of Thelen Reid & Priest.

FACC Past Presidents, New York
Mr. Carl-Eric Flander 1959-1961
Mr. William Graff 1961-1962
Mr. Heikki Jutila 1962-1963
Mr. Louis Alaimo 1963-1964
Mr. Raymond G. Auwarter 1964-1965
Mr. John Kubach 1065-1966
Mr. Richard Van Steenburgh 1966-1967
Mr. Carl Nyberg 1967-1968
Mr. Aug. L. Putnam 1968-1969
Mr. Kari Kairamo 1969-1970
Mr. F. Donald Kenney 1970-1971
Mr. Jaakko Haikala 1971-1973
Mr. Michael Davis 1973-1974
Mr. Bo W. Long 1974-1976
Mr. Donald Burch 1976-1977
Mr. Lars Colliander 1977-1980
Mr. Leif Lundstrom 1980-1982
Mr. John R. Nelson 1982-1984
Mr. Y. Pekka Kurki 1984-1986
Mr. Raimo E. Waltasaari 1986-1988
Mr. Thomas Silbiger 1988-1990
Mr. Jukka Vihersaari 1990-1992
Mr. Robert A. Bergqvist 1992-1994
Mr. Lars Colliander 1994-1995
Mr. George Caraberis 1995-1998
Mr. Ilkka Kalliomaa 1998-2000
Mr. Bo W. Long 2000-2001
Mr. Christopher Franco 2001-2003
Mr. Antero Lahtinen 2003-2005
Ms. Ann-Christine Westerlund 2005-present

(source: Fifty Years of Trade Assistance by Eero Korpivaara)

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