Saltex is a dynamic and truly international enterprise with long traditions in the textile industry. The company has been active in the development, production and installation of artificial grass for sport and landscape solutions since 1991. The company was originally founded in 1965 by Erkki Salmenautio and his three brothers in Alajärvi. The textile company Alajärven Mattokutomo, was the largest weaving mill in the Nordic countries with over 150 employees.
In the 1970’s, a new method of carpet manufacturing, called tufting, was developed and Alajärven Mattokutomo was the first company in the Nordic countries to use special tufting machines for producing long piled carpets.
In 1991, Saltex Ltd in its present form was established. The company started by making carpets. It was clear from the very beginning that innovation would play a significant role in the company. Over the years, the company developed an interest in artificial turf. For some time, Saltex observed the industry and realised that turf is also a textile and that the machinery needed for producing it was quite similar to those used for making rugs. This would prove to be the next big step for the company.
At that time, the global market for turf was not very big. In Finland, the company’s plan was to start by selling Tennis and Finnish Baseball surfaces. Turf wasn’t an approved surface for Football at the time. In time, with infill materials, artificial grass also began to seem like a good option for Football, and Saltex was the first company in Europe that was able to prepare suitable surfaces for Football. Suddenly, the market area was not only Finland, but the whole world.
These days, the Saltex product range includes high quality artificial grass for sports and landscaping purposes, air domes, athletic track surfaces, playground safety surfaces, contracting and home furnishing elements such as interior carpets. The artificial grass qualities of Saltex Oy have been tested according to FIFA standards and several other national standards.
Since 1916, Kerko Sport has operated as one of the leading manufacturers of sport equipment and full-service provider of sports facilities in the Nordic countries. Kerko Sport's over 100-year-old journey began even before Finland had become independent. There was no production of sports equipment in Finland and the equipment had to be ordered from abroad. Two young men, both sports enthusiasts and businessmen Arno Hohenthal and Karl Stockmann discovered "an ever-growing need for sporting goods and for sports textiles for young people" and the company Oy Urheilutarpeita – Sportartiklar Ab was established in May 1916.
The company's first products were javelins, discuses, spikes and wall bars. Factories and production were re-purposed for military industrial use in 1939, when the company equipped the Finnish army with a number of essential products. After the war, the company returned to producing sports equipment. About the same time, the company went international and started producing a wider selection of equipment.
For decades, many Finnish elite sportspeople, such as Paavo Nurmi, have been competing with the company's products. Kerko’s products have been used in a number of Olympic Games, including the Olympic Games in Helsinki 1952. Over its long history, Kerko has collaborated with architects, contractors, municipalities, companies and other clients in order to offer highly functional and complete solutions for indoor and outdoor facilities.
Unisport was founded in 1993 as a sole proprietorship by Mikael Hjelte under the name Uni Sport & Fritid AB. The name was changed in 1995 to Uni Sport & Golvbeläggningar AB and at this point also became a limited company. In 1998 the name of the limited company was changed to Unisport Scandinavia AB.
At the start, the company's main business activities were installation of sports surfaces and tennis courts. Since 1993, the company has been the sales agent for Gerflor Taraflex Sports Flooring in Scandinavia. Today, Gerflor Taraflex Sports Flooring is one of the most installed and sought after sports floors in Scandinavia, and can be found in hundreds of gymnasiums, sports halls and stadiums around Scandinavia.
Davis Cup 2003, Malmö - Sweden vs Australia
Ever since the Montreal Olympics in 1976, Gerflor Taraflex Sports Flooring has been the chosen surface for Floorball, Handball and Volleyball in the Olympics, World and European Championships. In Sweden, the Floorball teams in the Swedish Super League (SSL), as well as several Handball teams in the Handball League have been playing on Taraflex sports flooring from Unisport for many years.
From the very beginning, the company has been present at international venues. We also install Tennis surfaces - in particular for the Davis Cup - an installation we've been trusted to do many times over the past 23 years.
At the end of the 90's the company was one among others that started selling and installing artificial grass for Football in Scandinavia, and ever since the development of artificial grass has been one of the company's major areas of focus.
The company has, together with world leading manufacturers and producers, led the development of artificial grass in Scandinavia - building on the the opportunity to install artificial grass on surfaces other than just Football pitches. In 2016, the company installed over 1 000 000 m2 of artificial grass on Football pitches, playgrounds, schools, Golf courses, mulit-purpose stadiums, traffic environments, gardens and other public spaces. In 2016 the corresponding surface for sports floors was over 100 000 m2.
Subsidiaries were established in Norway (2005) and in Denmark and Finland (2007).
In 2008 the company got a new ownership structure when 70% of the company was acquired by Priveq investment who became the new majority owner. Founder Michael Hjelte became the second largest shareholder with 20% of the shares.
Throughout the years, the company's product and service offering has grown organically as well as through strategic acquisitions. This has mainly been in Sweden, Norway and Denmark but also through successful partnerships with leading suppliers, which made the company a complete turnkey supplier for municipalities, constructors, architects, associations and other target groups in the sector. Major focus has been put on innovation and product development. This laid the foundation for the company's expansion and the market leading position that we had as a distributor and installer on the Scandinavian market - particularly in artificial grass, sports flooring, seating systems, local sports grounds and Tennis courts. In addition to this the company also offers Padel courts, fall protection rubber, skate, plastic ice, covering systems for all types of surfaces and our own production of Football goals as well as maintenance machines for artificial grass.
“The joy of sport is conditional on a secure framework combined with well-designed and robust sports facilities – this has been our focus since 1956”.
Roots in the world of gymnastics
From the very first day, the company focused on creating high-quality products for Danish sport that were rooted in Danish design. In the early years, Virklund Gymnastik- og skolemontering, as the company was called at the time, offered a range of classic gymnastics apparatus such as vaulting bucks, pommel horses, vaulting boxes, wall bars and beams, but as sport in Denmark developed in many directions, a wider product range was required in order to offer high-quality sports facilities for e.g. athletics, badminton, volleyball, basketball and sports equipment for schools. This development continues – our customers now require customised sports facilities.
Together we are stronger
The merger between Unisport-Saltex and Kerko Group means major benefits for our customers. Together can we serve our clients with a complete one-stop service.Read more
Live to move. Move to live.
By building in fun experiences in our facilities and equipment,
we get more people using them and more movement for people, leading to better health and more happiness in the society as a whole. In everything we do, our first priority is to help our customers make people move.
Unique service concepts
Unisport offers tailor-made service concepts that cover sports facilities and activity areas.
We can help you with everything, from design to complete and customized solutions, equipment and maintenance throughout the their entire life cycle.Read more