The wood product industry is often thought of as an industry with high volume. However, the industry also includes firms specialising in small production runs and customer-focused service operations. Vankkapuu Oy is a family business that has operated for over three decades. With operations in Simpele and Joutseno in the Finnish province of South Karelia, the company has found its place in the wood product manufacturing market through specialisation, flexibility in product manufacturing, customer-focused operations and ensured delivery.
The timber trade is in the midst of a structural change. Consumers are increasingly less interested in basic lumber and are demanding more finished products instead. "I want to push the processing industry towards a higher degree of refinement and product development and a larger appreciation of the domestic market," says Petrus Berg, the CEO of Puumerkki.
Koskisen Oy, which began its sawmill operations almost 110 years ago, has grown into a diversified wood processing company that processes all its procured wood into products ranging from bio-energy to industrial housing elements. Located in Kärkölä in Päijät-Häme, the company has a typical history for a Finnish wood industry company: it started with sawmill operations. The second generation was interested in expanding to new products, and the sawmill operations begun by Kalle Koskinen were soon extended to wood processing for the plywood, chipboard and construction industries. Now in its fourth generation, Koskisen Oy is a Finnish pioneer in the sawmill and wood panel industries, in thin plywood production and the manufacturing of element-based building construction components. The company has more than a thousand employees and turnover was EUR 270 million in 2017.
The Finnish wood processing industry's history of more than one hundred years traces back to its international orientation and its knowledge of the needs of the export market. Alongside the main products of pulp and paper, a strong construction-focused industry has emerged to produce particle board and plywood products for industrial construction needs.
Finland is known around the world for its high-quality wood architecture. Today's Finnish wood architecture has its roots in the minds of internationally renowned Finnish architects and draws inspiration from nature. High-quality wood architecture is a significant facilitator in increasing the appreciation and market for wood construction and growing its reputation.
Finnish architecture’s success story has always been associated with its close connections with nature and tradition. New industrial wood construction products, prefabrication and new wood construction materials have also increased the interest of architects in the possibilities of wood and in modern wood architecture.
Log construction has long traditions in Finland based on the suitability of the excellent raw material, the skills of the craftsmen, and log construction for the demanding Finnish climate. New industrial log materials, manufacturing technology and indoor air requirements have increased interest in log construction. Finland is the world leader in industrial log construction. It produces an increasing amount of log buildings for the Asian, Central European and Nordic markets.
Although veneer-based plywood has its origins in England 200 years ago, its industrial manufacturing is rooted in the development of the wood processing industry in Finland. The plywood industry has undergone significant structural changes over the past few decades, and as a result, smaller factories have now closed shop and plywood manufacturing in Finland is concentrated in the factories of UPM, Metsä Wood and Koskisen Oy.
Finnish sawn timber has a good reputation among end users. This reputation is based on the timber's high quality, which makes it suitable for demanding uses, and on the reliability of deliveries and customer service in the industry.
The roots of the Finnish wood processing industry are in the sawmill industry, which has produced high quality sawn timber for the world market for over 150 years. Family-owned sawmill companies, whose competitiveness is based on long-standing customer relationships, flexibility and high quality end products, operate alongside the large wood processing companies.
Over the course of 2018, Puuinfo will publish a series of articles on the Finnish wood industry and wood construction. The article series by Markku Laukkanen and Mikko Viljakainen presents a variety of best practices and trends in the Finnish wood industry. Among other topics, the series will cover high quality Finnish wood and the variety of ways it can be used, exemplary construction projects and investments and success stories in the industry. A number of cutting-edge Finnish wood industry and construction leaders and companies will take their turn in the series. The aim is to spread information about best practices and solutions in the Finnish wood industry to increase its competitiveness and make Finnish expertise more widely known.