Bicycle, bike, cycle – call it whatever you like. No matter the quality of your two-wheeler, Kauko Kakkonen's company Joensuun Pyörähuolto ja Tarvike will service and repair it.

Kauko Kakkonen is a brand new entrepreneur in Joensuu. With a great deal of help from Business Joensuu, he took a leap of faith and took over a bike shop offering service and parts. This is how entrepreneur Kakkonen describes the fair winds blown by Business Joensuu:

– Business Joensuu coordinated everything from planning the change of ownership to drafting the purchase of business agreement, suggesting sources of good advice and securing a Finnvera Guarantee.

“Now or never”

Even as a 10-year old kid, Kauko Kakkonen used to help around at the bike shop under the watchful eye of Timo Harinen, the previous owner. Kakkonen was so interested in fixing bikes that he even had a summer job at the shop.

– I used to come here to Torikatu and have a chat, since we go way back. One time Timo told me that he’d like to retire and sell the business.

So even before the company was officially for sale, Kakkonen had made up his mind. Before becoming an entrepreneur, he worked for 26 years in construction, most recently in damage restoration.

– All in all, the leap into owning a business wasn’t too big for me; even as a paid worker, I always had an entrepreneurial attitude, taking responsibility of agreeing on work, timetables, deliveries. Having already turned 45, I thought that it’s now or never if I want to try being my own boss.

Starting from the basics

Fair winds and easy roads – is how the energetic business owner makes it sound when describing his early days of entrepreneurship. Still, his good start is based on a lot of experience and eagerness to learn. Kakkonen had a good idea of what the day-to-day at a bike shop is like. He had also improved his skills by working on cars and mopeds.

Still, Kakkonen didn’t take any short cuts to entrepreneurship. He started preparing for the change of ownership with a work try-out and a master-apprentice training coordinated by Business Joensuu. Kakkonen also thinks very highly of the course in entrepreneurship he took, organised by TE Services.

– During the course, we went through everything you need to know about owning a business. Straightforward and concrete stuff – and no chance of turning a blind eye to the risks after that.

When Kauko Kakkonen started his work try-out at the bike shop in January 2020, Timo Harinen knew exactly how to start introducing him to the concrete tasks.

– During that first spring, I did an overhaul on about 70 bikes. That’s when you disassemble the whole bike. It’s about 3 to 4 hours per bike. It definitely broke me in; I really got to know each and every part and thread.

Excited for development

Kauko Kakkonen became the official owner of Joensuun Pyörähuolto ja Tarvike in autumn 2020. One thing reassuring the new owner is that Timo Harinen, with his 35 years of experience, has committed to being available for Kakkonen to ask any questions that come up during the next couple of years. Another great thing is that the culture of excellent service established by Harinen is bearing fruit.

– It all starts with good, reliable and honest service. That’s the way I intend to do it, too, Kakkonen sums up.

The new entrepreneur isn’t thinking about expanding the business. Instead, he is excited about improving the shop and service room at Torikatu. The entrance has already been expanded, and Kakkonen has new ideas for product selection and presentation.

Another thing that requires learning new things is that, in addition to traditional bikes, more and more cyclists are choosing an electric bike.

– I’m looking into e-bikes with Shimano motors. I’ve bought an error code reader that you can use to update the motor with the newest software. I’d guess that the number of e-bikes needing service will grow significantly within the next couple of years.

Bikes are the future

The clientele of Joensuun Pyörähuolto is diverse. It’s not only city residents and nearby cyclists that find their way to the shop at Torikatu. Many people walk their bikes to the shop from dozens of kilometres away, even taking the bus.

Many of my clients commute by bike no matter the season. During the Covid pandemic, many people have switched to commuting by bike rather than bus. Avoiding the virus and doing good for the environment while they’re at it.

Kakkonen has made another observation about these times.

– Bike sales have been so high during the past year that people haven’t always found a bike they liked. So they order a bike online. And those come as a big package of parts. We get these self-assembled bikes for service pretty often – people don’t get the assembly just right, and we get to fix it.

From December to March, the shop is busy doing overhauls. From April to June it’s a rush to prepare for summer. In August and September, students arrive with their bikes, keeping the shop busy again.

– And then it’s winter tyre season. You do start to feel it in your fingers when you prise nearly 200 winter tyres in place. In the evening, you have to do some self-repair – horse liniment for the finger joints.

Business Joensuu coordinated everything from planning the change of ownership to drafting the purchase of business agreement, suggesting sources of good advice and securing a Finnvera Guarantee.

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