Koskisen Group10.10.2016

National Entrepreneur Award 2016 goes to Koskisen Oy

Koskisen's third generation: Markku Koskinen, Eva Wathén and Kari Koskinen

The National Entrepreneur Award of Finland is public recognition of exemplary entrepreneurship. The esteemed award aims to highlight the importance of entrepreneurs who show initiative and dare to take financial risks to our economy, while at the same time encouraging a greater appreciation of entrepreneurship in our society. The award criteria take into account particularly the company’s productivity, product development, business idea, growth, employment impacts and effective use of capital.

The National Entrepreneur Award has a long history. In 1968, the Federation of Finnish Enterprises (Suomen Yrittäjät) and Fennia insurance company wanted to raise the status of entrepreneurship by encouraging and rewarding successful entrepreneurs. This led to the National Entrepreneur Award, which has been granted to hundreds of enterprises and private individuals over the years.

At the National Entrepreneur Days gala held in Vaasa in October 2016, the recipients of the National Entrepreneur Award were Wapice Oy, Firstbeat Technologies, Koskisen Oy and V. Hukkanen Oy.

Committed to Wood

The products made by Koskisen – plywood, birch veneer, chipboard, sawn timber, roof trusses and wood elements – can be found in every corner of the world. The reference sites include designer furniture, interior decoration elements, concert halls, wooden blocks of flats and schools. The more common industrial end uses for plywood are, however, ship construction materials and construction site scaffolding boards. Wood has endless possibilities.

“The ability to solve the customer’s problems and knowledge of the properties of wood play an important role. There must be an understanding of how the customer’s business is developing. Our entire business is based on having satisfied customers,” Koskisen’s Managing Director, Markku Koskinen, sums up. 

Wood product exports on the rise

According to the Koskinen siblings, “Europe’s importance as a market area is declining. China’s interest in wood, however, is growing. We have our own sales office in China, with a local employee who is familiar with the culture and business.”

Exports account for more than 90 per cent of Koskisen’s plywood products, and nearly 80 per cent of the Group’s sawn timber production is exported. Wood products are marketed and sold in 11 countries through the Group’s own sales offices.

Wood procurement is also handled by the company itself, through Koskitukki. “We utilise all of the wood that comes through our doors. We make chipboard from our own chips, and Koskitukki also handles raw material deliveries for bioenergy production and the pulp and paper industry,” lists Markku. The integrated mills in Järvelä are home to the only remaining chipboard mill in Finland. 

Evolving hand-in-hand with customers

“The balconies and huge ceiling structure in Poland’s Katowice concert hall were made from KoskiBirchUp panels. The special birch product really accentuates the space and has excellent acoustic properties,” says a proud Kari Koskinen, Vice Chairman of the Board of the parent company Koskitukki, and director of business development for the company’s Russian operations.

Nearly all of Koskisen’s products are nowadays made to order, but pre-cut sawn timber in certain dimensions can be found in storage.

“Our strengths are the ability to try new things and develop. You can’t stay up to date by following past recipes for success,” the brothers agree. And in the same breath they enthusiastically cite decorative products, wood elements and retractable roof innovations based on roof trusses for the consumer sector, as well as professional building solutions, from single-family homes to blocks of flats. “In recent years, we have invested strongly in the further processing of large and massive elements.”

Family business comes with an obligation and the courage to move forward

“For us, job security is a built-in feature. It is a major driver for us, knowing that the fathers and even aunts of our employees have also worked here. We want to turn a profit in order to make employment possible,” says member of the Board of Directors and the Group’s Responsibility and Brand Director, Eva Wathén, on the importance of entrepreneurship.

Ever since it was founded, Koskisen has learned that excellence can only be achieved by fully committing oneself. Koskisen’s motto “Committed to Wood” is printed on the back of the company’s workwear.

The three children of Kalevi Koskinen, son of the founder of the company, Kalle Koskinen, are taking the more than 100-year-old wood-processing company forward. The fourth generation of Koskinens is already working in Järvelä. They inherited their bold entrepreneurial spirit from their forefathers, who survived the depression of the 1930s.

“This is a sunrise industry. A great future lies ahead of the business. All matters related to wood and nature are important to people,” Wathén sums up.

Fennia magazine 3/2016
Orginal article in Finnish here.

Text: Eliisa Anttila
Photo: Esa Siltaloppi