A family affair
It’s all abuzz at the Timberwise factory set amid a landscape of fields in Loimaa, western Finland. A high frequency press and tongue and groove machine are hard at work, while sprinklers on the ceiling spurt water into the air to ensure perfect humidity levels. Here, wood and optimal conditions play a starring role. They are a matter of honour for the 26 pairs of hands at the factory and ten in charge of sales and administration, all striving to produce the best flooring in the world.
The journey began over twenty years ago when Markku Mäkitalo acquired a former welding factory in the Puujalkala area of Loimaa. His company Puujalkalan Puu and pursuit for outstanding quality were born. In 1999, the company changed its name to Timberwise and systematic branding began.
Floor For Life is crafted in good hands – it could even be called a family affair. Markku’s daughter Laura Lankinen is the company’s brand director, son Jaakko Mäkitalo is in charge of sales in Finland’s capital area, and daughter Anu is a board member of parent company Cartem Oy. 69-year-old double retiree Markku continues to show up at the Timberwise factory nearly every day. The siblings and their father do not step on each other’s toes too often, though.
“We don’t admit to arguing, but do sometimes talk in capital letters,” father Markku laughs.
Markku’s continued involvement in a number of areas like finances can cause some words – sometimes the children feel he could take a step back. But in the end, everyone is pleased to be working together.
“He never forced us to get involved in the company. We are here purely from our own free will and passion for the industry,” summarizes Laura.
Former professional golfer Jaakko is the latest family member to join the company. When in 2018 golf became a smaller part in his life, he was faced with the question of what to do next. The prospect of working for someone else did not feel like an option.
“Dad seemed rather pleased when I shared my thoughts about joining Timberwise. With Anu as a board member and our mother having an important role in ensuring everything runs smoothly on the home front, practically the whole family is involved in the company,” Jaakko explains.
The company’s roots are still firmly planted in Loimaa’s soil, and most of the employees are locals. The office and factory windows offer sweeping views across woodlands and fields – local countryside at its best. From this rural setting, flooring is shipped to countries like Norway and Sweden and all the way to China and Korea. At 60 per cent, exports continue to make up the largest share of company turnover. And business is on a constant, steady rise.
The story that began at a former welding factory more than two decades ago is just getting stronger.
“It’s a business, but as a familyowned company there’s often a strong emotional charge. My first grandchild worked part-time at the factory last winter. Seeing her busy at work made me emotional.” Markku explains.
Text and photo: Cozy