The Finnish carpentry industry is alive and well, at least according to young entrepreneur Aleksi Kauppinen, who heads the Myrskylä-based carpentry shop AX-Design.
The company, established in 2010, has grown quite a bit in the past five years.
“The number of employees has grown from two to more than ten, depending on the time of year. Net sales also exceeded the million-euro mark for the first time last year,” says Kauppinen, recounting the company’s development.
Kauppinen is a fine example of a young man with an entrepreneurial spirit. He has been in working life from the age of 13, graduated as an artisanal carpenter in 2006, and worked as an entrepreneur in a small woodworking shop since 2008 before establishing AX-Design Oy.
Kauppinen has a clear vision for AX-Design’s growth:
“We can attribute a lot of our growth to the fact that we never tell the customer we can’t do it. Our initially small orders have grown larger and larger thanks to satisfied customers and word of mouth. We have consciously invested in our service, flexibility and quality in order to stand out from the competition,” he explains.
During the busiest times, the workshop can churn out a kitchen a day. That sounds like a dizzying pace, especially considering that their calendar is full three months ahead.
AX-Design Oy manufactures a range of carpentry products, but over the years, their speciality has become kitchen cabinetry, which is made from start to finish in the company’s own workshop.
The frames for the cabinets are mainly made from Koskisen’s white melamine-coated chipboard, which the workshop consumes in the amount of roughly three cubic metres a week. To make the frame as durable as possible, 16-mm-thick chipboard is used. The kitchen cabinets are made according to the client’s wishes from, for example, KoskiMel chipboard in the requested finish and colour.
“With the material originating from Finland and even quite close to our workshop, we know for sure what we’re getting. All of the products we manufacture are 100% Finnish. Only the fixtures and fittings are ordered from Germany,” says Kauppinen.
In addition to the Finnish nature of the products, the carpentry shop aims to use all of the material it purchases as efficiently as possible. Through careful planning and optimised cutting, waste wood material is kept to a minimum. Surplus wood from specific projects is generally used in other projects, for example, as packing material.
Service and quality are trademarks for AX-Design. That is why their kitchens are also tailor-made. Holes are cut in the frames in exactly the right place for plumbing and electricity. Installation plays a big role in the company’s overall service. The company’s preference is to deliver the finished products pre-assembled and also to install them, in order to ensure the kitchen functions as it should and that any finishing touches are made before the handover to the customer.
“The quality of the product can diminish by 110% if it is installed improperly. In accordance with our operating principles, we do not deliver a complete kitchen to the site all at once; instead, after installing the frame, we take measurements for the end panels, toe boards, and worktop. We manufacture these parts on the basis of the as-built measurements, which ensures a top-quality end result,” says Kauppinen.
AX-Design’s customer base includes not only consumers, but companies, cities, public administration and construction companies who order, in addition to kitchens, furnishings for public spaces, such as schools, hospitals and day-care centres.
Kauppinen has a small request for those ordering kitchens and other furniture:
“Think about options besides chipboard. Plywood is also an interesting material.”
Due to the company’s steady growth, the spaces built for the workshop have started to reach their limit. Future visions for the company include the construction of new premises and a separate sales area or showroom, where customers can see the completed carpentry products in a homely environment.
Myrskylä is an important area not just for AX-Design, but also for Koskisen and especially Koskitukki, its wood-procurement company. Koskitukki procures all the wood raw material Koskisen needs in its production. Most of the logs are purchased within a 150-kilometre radius of Koskitukki’s main location in Järvelä.
Ninety per cent of Koskisen’s chipboard is made from virgin wood, for example, from sawdust generated during the processing of logs. This means that logs purchased from the Myrskylä area could end up back in the municipality, for example as raw material for AX-Design’s kitchens.
In Kauppinen’s estimation, there is room to improve the traceability of wood.
“It certainly would increase the value of the product if you could say that this kitchen was made with wood grown in Myrskylä,” he says.
Koskitukki’s Harvesting and Forest Management Supervisor Antti Poikela agrees:
“Forest owners are interested in knowing where their wood is being used. It would be great to be able to say that after the logs are processed, at least some of them will be made into finished products by a local company.”