Bright personality and an entrepreneur through and through. Such is the CEO of family business Kekäle. To him, Joensuu is an urban and modern city – like a mini New York. A lively city, short distances and the proximity of nature equal the best quality of life for the entrepreneur and father.

Joonas Kekäle returned refreshed to celebrate Christmas 2018 in Joensuu. He had just spend three weeks sailing over the Atlantic from Tenerife to the Caribbean. Such a break was welcome to the entrepreneur, who had not had much time for charging his batteries on holidays during the previous four years. For a father of two, time management is a constant balancing act between work, positions of trust and family.

North Karelians do not too stress too much when meeting new people

In 2015, the generation change was completed, and Joonas Kekäle became the company’s third generation head.

– There is a chunk of gold inside the company, but a layer of dust had settled on it. When I started working at Kekäle in 2005 after finishing my studies, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. The clothing trade is a difficult sector, and there is a lot of competition.

Personnel is at the heart of everything

Joonas Kekäle has rooted his enthusiasm and sunny attitude into Kekäle’s business culture. According to him, the most important cornerstone of success is definitely the personnel.

– We want to make Finnish people more confident. In order to succeed, we need human encounters with the customers. The sales personnel is highly valued in Kekäle, and sufficient staff needs to be allocated to sales. People want to return to Kekäle, if they have had a good customer experience.

Established in 1957, Kekäle is a significant employer. There are altogether nine Kekäle stores in 13 different locations, five Vero Moda and Jack&Jones franchising stores, two Vila stores and an online store. The company has altogether approximately 220 employees.

Skilful communication

– North Karelians do not stress too much when meeting new people. It is our definite advantage and something we cherish in our business culture.

According to Kekäle, great communication skills are also reflected between the city and Joensuun Yrittäjät (Joensuu Entrepreneurs).

Joensuu understands the importance of entrepreneurs. The city is hasty to ask about the entrepreneurs’ opinion in various different matters. The cooperation has been fruitful – it has given birth to, for instance, Business Joensuu.

New life in the centre

Joonas Kekäle calls the Toriparkki parking area and the renovation of the market square ‘renovation debt’, which has now finally been paid for. Many stores closed their doors when the centre of the city was under turmoil. Kekäle admits that people were enormously concerned.

– Now we need to make the city centre powerful again! We need new energy. New restaurants, cafés and businesses offering leisure time entertainment would also refresh the cityscape. Seniors in the Joensuu region are a great consumer group, and it is equally important to make students more visible on the streets of Joensuu.