Wood working09.01.2012

Skiing ahead as a team

Jarmo Pilli, Juhani Eskelinen, and Koskisen’s Sales Manager Raimo Kämppi co-operate on a weekly basis.

Jarmo Pilli, Juhani Eskelinen, and Koskisen’s Sales Manager Raimo Kämppi co-operate on a weekly basis.

Peltonen skis have a long and distinguished heritage. Within the unique structure of the genuine Finnish skis made at the Heinola plant can be found Koskisen’s thin veneer plywood and air-dried timber.

Peltonen was started by Toivo Peltonen, a promising young skier, in 1945 in Hartola, southern Finland. During the nearly seven decades since then, it has grown from a one-man shop to an international ski brand with 40 employees and operations in three shifts during peak seasons.

In the early days Peltonen skis were manually worked from a single piece of wood, whereas now the brand-new, mechanised Heinola plant churns them out using patented technology. Wood has stubbornly held its ground as the ski core material, despite feather-light foams and other novelties.

- Our wood raw material comes from Koskisen as dried and cut-to-size blanks ready for use. We didn’t build a drying kiln of our own at the new plant, so Koskisen takes care of drying for us. In addition to sawn timber, we also use thin veneer plywood from Koskisen’s Hirvensalmi plant for the honeycomb-structures in our skis, says Jarmo Pilli, Production Manager of the Peltonen ski plant.

According to Managing Director Juhani Eskelinen, a pair of top-notch Peltonen racing skis today weigh as little as one kilogram:

- Racing skiers don’t really like equipment lighter than that because if the ski is virtually weightless you lose the feel of both the ski and the track.

Sides from thin veneer

A Koskisen lorry arrives at the Peltonen plant each week, bringing around 50 cubic metres of sawn timber, whereas the annual deliveries of thin veneer plywood amount to 15 to 20 cubic metres. In addition to Finland, Koskisen raw materials end up within the final product all over the world, thanks to the global operations of Rapala VMC, Peltonen Ski’s largest co-owner.

- We’re strict about delivery times because if we’re short on any raw material, it will stop the entire production line. Koskisen has done a good job with the deliveries, and we can get extra supplies at short notice, Pilli says.

The volume of orders from Koskisen has grown during recent years, as last year in particular was a record year for Peltonen: 69,000 pairs of skis were manufactured, a 15-per cent increase over the previous year. This season started out with little snow in Finland, but in February production was once again rolling at full power, in two shifts.

Around half of the skis are made to suit the needs of the average recreational skier and children. The share of racing skis is 15 per cent, and around 25 per cent goes to active and competing recreational skiers.

- The core of traditional-style skis for recreational skiers is mainly wood, which is an excellent core material thanks to its workability. Hardly any wood is used for skating skis anymore, however. The core of the ski is a light-weight honeycomb structure with sidewalls from a few millimetres thick thin veneer from thin veneer plywood a few millimetres thick, Eskelinen explains.

Wax-free is the word

The best-selling Peltonen ski at the moment is the wax-free Nanogrip, which is suitable for all conditions and does not require any grip wax. The latest novelty are personalised skis: you can get for, say, a neighbour celebrating his 50th birthday a pair in his favourite colour and pattern and his own name on them. The price is a bit higher than for regular skis, but at least the owner can easily spot his skis outside a track-side kiosk.

Less than a year old, the modern Peltonen ski plant has a high rate of automation, but sharp eyes and skilful hands are still indispensable.

- Grinding of the base and matching a suitable pair are some of the tasks that require keen eyes, nimble fingers and skill that you only get after thousands of processed pairs, says Eskelinen.

The core of Peltonen skis includes air-dried sawn timber as cut-to-size blanks. The honeycomb core in racing skis has sidewall reinforcements made from thin veneer plywood.

The core of Peltonen skis includes air-dried sawn timber as cut-to-size blanks. The honeycomb core in racing skis has sidewall reinforcements made from thin veneer plywood.