“The whole package was done after one phone call – incredible service,” says Janne Rantanen, Managing Director of Soseex Oy, while explaining how smoothly the food company was established in Joensuu in 2018.

Soseex Oy manufactures various vegetable-based food components, such as purees, sauces and falafel pulp. The company’s customers include chain restaurants, starting with small chains of three restaurants. The largest of the company’s current customers is a chain of 45 restaurants. Last year, Soseex’s turnover was nearly one million euros. According to the entrepreneur, the annual growth rate is at 20–30%. The company currently employs six full-time employees and a changing number of seasonal workers.

“I participated in Business Joensuu’s GROW growth coaching, which has just ended. The 10-week coaching offered me a rewarding perspective and, above all, an opportunity to focus on the groundwork and processes of growth systematically. The goal is to manage a turnover of EUR 3 million in five years’ time,” Janne Rantanen plans.

M.Sc. and banker

The entrepreneur’s ambitious growth plans are realistic for many reasons – let’s not forget that Janne Rantanen is not only a Master of Science (Engineering) but also an experienced professional in finances.

“Right after graduating, I got lost in the banking world at Nordea. As a result, I ended up managing a FIM bank fund in China. I did it for seven years. I was also a shareholder in FIM, which planted a small seed of entrepreneurship.”

When FIM was sold, Rantanen was done sitting in a bank. After a while, a former customer offered him a Managing Director’s position and a project-type reporting work for a company in 2014.

“That company happened to be a food business. I got to take a little deeper dive into that business as a consultant. In about 3.5 years, I decided to become an entrepreneur in the food industry.”

People for businesses

Janne Rantanen lived – and still lives – in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, but he also spent a lot of time in Joensuu with his girlfriend at the time.

“The food industry was intriguing; the rise of vegetarian proteins had begun. I had been able to get to know people who already saw the plant food boom coming in around 2015. When I was thinking about my own food company, my girlfriend suggested to call Business Joensuu; they had people who help companies.”

So Rantanen made a call to Länsikatu.

“A guy at Business Joensuu said that he will make some calls and ask some questions and get back to me later. That really happened in no time at all. The whole package was available. I only needed to comply,” Rantanen says. He explains that he received help in many matters from practical business matters to ELY services, from facility solutions to a network of logistics actors.

Perfect facilities

Confusing! That is what Janne Rantanen felt when he soon stood in the premises of the Tuote ja Vihannes company on Kuurnankatu, Joensuu.

“They had a few hundred square metres of empty freezer space! I mean, no-one would keep such a thing unused. You could never find one in southern Finland. I started negotiating with the landladies; already had customers in my back pocket.”

The facilities on Kuurnankatu are ideal for Soseex Oy, whose production and service are based on quality, agility and flexibility.

“Production equipment runs on wheels. The factory hall is rebuilt every morning according to the product that is being manufactured for the customer on that day. The entity is flexible, and it is easy to expand production within the framework of the premises. I have calculated that it is very possible to triple production in the premises.”

Functional logistics

When Janne Rantanen became interested in the presented facilities, one critical question soon came to mind. Can logistics be an obstacle to all this goodness?

“Forget about it. Joensuu is the logistics centre of Eastern Finland, where large central businesses drive their goods from the south. The freight trucks are full when they arrive, but they leave half-empty or empty. We will be able to take advantage of return transport of the trucks. It was a surprise to me that the price of logistics was almost the same, whether the production was located in Joensuu or even in Kerava.”

Cost accounting takes Joensuu’s side also in such areas as premises costs. Rantanen also praises the availability of labour, competence, positive attitude to entrepreneurship in the area and people’s ability to cooperate.

“If I became the managing director of a large company, I would now carefully consider whether it would be worthwhile to take production to Estonia or even further, as Joensuu is a much better direction. Globalisation has been beneficial to all of us, but now the phenomenon seems to have come to an end. In a changed world, business executives should look closer for a better alternative – preferably in Joensuu.”

Text: Sirkka-Liisa Aaltonen/Viestintä Ässä Oy
Photo: Jarno Artika