Matti Kankaanpää was born on November 6, 1927, in Jyvaskyla, Finland. He obtained his technical education at Helsinki University of Technology, where he received a master of science degree in 1951. He worked at Wartsila, Kone ja Silta from 1950 to 1956, becoming chief engineer. In 1957, he joined Beloit Corporation in Wisconsin as research and staff engineer. In 1963, he joined Jaakko Pöyry, and was vice president when he left to join Valmet Corporation in 1971 as assistant director of the pulp and paper machinery division. In 1982, he was elected chairman, president, and chief executive officer. He retired in 1992.
The main focus of his career has been the further development of new technologies related to the papermaking process. Some of Mr. Kankaanpaa’s most important contributions were the Valmet Sym-Former and Speed-Former, as well as some of the Sym-Press family of high-speed press sections. These were patented under Mr. Kankaanpää’s name in the 1970s and ’80s and were developed by Valmet Corporation into highly successful products, having been applied to hundreds of paper machine deliveries by the corporation from the 1970s to the present time.
Mr. Kankaanpää has 30 patents in the field of papermaking. He wrote three chapters in the Technical handbook published by the Finnish Paper Engineers’ Association in 1968; an article on new sheet forming methods in Norsk Skogindustri in 1970; and a 1972 article in Paperi ja Puu/Paper and Timber.
A member of TAPPI since 1957, he was made a TAPPI Fellow in 1988. He received the Finnish Paper Engineers’ Association’s Lampen Medal in 1983 and an honorary doctor of technology, H.C., by Tampere University of Technology, Finland, in 1987.
Among his leadership contributions, Mr. Kankaanpää served as chairman of the board, Federation of Finnish Metal and Engineering Industries; vice chairman of the board, Confederation of Finnish Industries; chairman of the Finnish Foreign Trade Association; and chairman of the Finnish Academy of Technology.
He and his wife, Iris, were married in 1952. They have two sons, Jarmo and Kai, and a daughter, Heidi.