A flagship store for embroidering and fabric printing services and work clothes is set to open in the business centre on Lehmonportintie. The store, which will open its doors at the end of November, will function as a unique show room for Johannes Väänänen’s dreams and future ambitions as an entrepreneur and job creator. The quickest way to become a businessowner is to purchase a pre-existing business.

Joen Tikkituote aims for rapid growth

For 30 years, Maarit Ihatsu steered Joen Tikkituote, an embroidery and fabric printing company in Joensuu, Finland. As she was preparing for her impending and well-deserved retirement, Ihatsu contacted Business Joensuu and Osuva, the stock market for businesses. In the August of this year, Ihatsu struck a deal with Johannes Väänänen, a young entrepreneur with a strong vision for Tikkituote’s future.

– Johannes has an eye for design and the skills to match his ambition. Tikkituote’s clients have embraced this young entrepreneur, which has been an absolute joy to behold. Johannes has all the social skills that a successful salesman needs, Maarit Ihatsu concludes.

Business Joensuu Tikkituote by Artika

 

In the middle of October, rapid changes were afoot in the business centre owned by Master Yhtiöt on Lehmonportintie. Markus (27) and Mikael Väänänen (21) were preparing to move their building maintenance company Huoltolink to a new space. The entrepreneurial duo were making room for Johannes Väänänen (19), the youngest brother of the bunch. In August 2020, Johannes purchased Joen Tikkituote from its owner Maarit Ihatsu, herself an old-school Finnish entrepreneur.

 

Handing the keys to a life’s work

Maarit Ihatsu ran Joen Tikkituote for 30 years. Tikkituote provides embroidering, fabric printing and finishing services to numerous companies and organisations across Finland. While traditional print adverts have become an all-too-expensive pursuit for most companies, the timeless, stylish and brand-conscious embroidering services that Tikkituote provides have maintained their allure for decades.

When Ihatsu was only a few years away from retirement, she decided to listen to her fellow entrepreneurs and take the plunge in selling her business.

– They told me that it could take a long while before a smaller company finds the right buyer. So, I decided to get a head start. After all, the thought of selling my business sounded a lot better than just calling it quits.

Ihatsu got in touch with Business Joensuu to place her company on the Osuva stock market for businesses. Osuva’s consultation services for businesses are always confidential and free or charge.

Tikkituote’s machines and equipment were in good shape, its business was profitable, and it had a very loyal customer base. Ihatsu knew that her company had plenty of room for development and growth.

– Larger spaces, hired staff, expansions, new developments – there’s plenty to choose from. Of course, I’d thought about these options as well, but I just didn’t have it in me anymore.

Interested buyers came and went, but Ihatsu hesitated. She felt emotionally invested in the deal – the continuation of her life’s work. The coronavirus pandemic also put her plans in a spin.

– One day, Markus Väänänen called. He asked if he could take a look around. Fifteen minutes later, he was at my doorstep.

 

A young man with plenty of experience

Johannes Väänänen and his elder brothers have always had the entrepreneurial gene. When he was just a young teenager, Väänänen would go from door to door selling air duct cleaning services. He can’t help but crack a smile when he reminisces about those times:

– It’s not an easy thing, trying to sound like a reliable businessman when your voice hasn’t dropped yet!

Later on, he worked as a salesman at a tyre store and set up a one-man business for building maintenance and construction services.

– When I was in the Finnish Defence Forces for my mandatory military service, I realised that I wanted to become an entrepreneur. I’ve always felt that working for myself would be the best source of motivation.

Even before he heard of Joen Tikkituote, Johannes and his brothers had thought about setting up a business for embroidering services and work clothes. Väänänen turned to the internet to find out what there was to know about the sector’s market potential and future opportunities. His extensive networks and the support of his elder brothers helped push him forward.

– I also had to set up meeting with various banks. Markus was a huge help there – I doubt that anyone would’ve been interested in financing the ideas of just an enthusiastic 19-year-old!

 

Ready to push forward

Even before signing their deal, Maarit Ihatsu and Johannes Väänänen agreed that Ihatsu would provide the young entrepreneur with hands-on guidance, much like how a master would mentor an apprentice.

– In just a month, we’ve gone through heaps of important details. Johannes has an eye for design and the skills to match his ambition. Tikkituote’s clients have embraced this young entrepreneur, which has been an absolute joy to behold. Johannes has all the social skills that a successful salesman needs, Maarit Ihatsu concludes.

The embroidering and fabric printing sector has been part of the digital revolution long before most other businesses took the leap. Ihatsu is especially pleased with her younger counterpart’s familiarity with the digital world.

– You could say that the apprentice has also taught the master – when it comes to digital things, Johannes knows a lot more than I do. All in all, our personalities have matched since day one.

 

Focusing on brick and mortar

Johannes Väänänen intends to turn Joen Tikkituote into the number brand in its field. He plans to reach his goal by going partially against the tide as well – his future success story will begin with a physical store first, and an online store later.

Come November, Lehmonportintie will be home to a two-storey, 90 m2 business. Its ground floor will feature a pro-level brick-and-mortar store, while the company’s production facilities will be situated in the upper floor.

– Our corporate and organisational customers can come to our store to see and feel the quality of our products. We sell Fristads work clothes, which is the leading brand for work clothing in the Nordics. We want to provide high-quality clothing for everyone, from workers in heavy-duty construction jobs to the top dealmakers in your office.

With the efforts of chiefly a single person, Joen Tikkituote has generated an annual turnover rate of around 80,000 euros. Johannes Väänänen’s goal is to grow the business by 30% annually in the next three years. The young entrepreneur hired his first employee at the beginning of November.

– Business Joensuu has provided us with a great deal of support. In fact, Timo Hartikainen, our business coach, just called to ask us how we were doing. His support has played a crucial role in our recruitment efforts as well.

“Business Joensuu has provided us with a great deal of support. Their support has played a crucial role in our recruitment efforts as well”

Author: Sirkka-Liisa Aaltonen, Viestintä-Ässä