Laminate countertops for kitchens all around Finland are manufactured in Polvijärvi. Marko Lyhykäinen is the Managing Director of Ecolam, a company producing Hahle laminate countertops and sliding doors. According to him, available workforce and cooperation with the municipality are reasons why the company should remain in Polvijärvi.
Competent workforce from the Joensuu region
Ecolam is the third biggest employer in the small town: it has approximately 70 employees, and its turnover was 9.8 million in 2017. It has been easy to find workforce in the Joensuu region.
– More than half of the employees are from Polvijärvi. We also have workers from the neighbouring towns Outokumpu, Joensuu, Liperi and Juuka. Joensuu is almost next door, which increases our recruitments opportunities.
Lyhykäinen has already worked for ten years in Ecolam: graduated as a Bachelor of Engineering, Wood Technology, he started as a foreman in Ecolam in 2007. He is not the only one with a long career in Ecolam.
– Employment contracts tend to be pretty long-term here, and we have less employee turnover than big cities.
Ecolam will stay in Polvijärvi, and we are currently planning investments
Ecolam does not require any specific training from its employees, but trains its personnel itself. Apprenticeship training has been arranged at Riveria for tasks requiring specialist competence, such as CNC machining. Riveria is a provider of professional education in North Karelia.
Polvijärvi municipality assists in investments
In Polvijärvi, companies receive personal service. The mayor and a business advisor visit local companies on a regular basis, and the cooperation is confidential. According to Lyhykäinen, the small municipality offers opportunities of cooperation.
– In the past, the municipality participated in the building of company premises. When we have needed more space, it has always been sorted. We are continuously working on new things with the municipality, but I cannot give you any details yet, Lyhykäinen says with a smirk.
Companies in Polvijärvi work in close cooperation.
– We cooperate a lot with the other local businesses. AMT Systems from Polvijärvi has constructed production lines for us. We also use local logistics operators: a company from Polvijärvi takes care of our raw materials waste, and we use a company from Outokumpu for the transport of end products, Lyhykäinen says.
A glance into the growth of Ecolam
The coating of sheets started in Polvijärven Levypinnoite, which was established in 1989, and which later became Ecolam.
– The company grew and grew. According to my forerunner, the company needed ‘broader shoulders’, so to speak. That is why Hahle came along, Lyhykäinen says.
The company started manufacturing Hahle countertops in 1995. The sector depends on building, and the company experienced significant growth in the mid 2000s, when Ecolam expanded its production.
– In 2004 and 2005, we started producing sliding doors, which increased the number of employees, as the doors are made manually. The biggest year of growth was 2007, Lyhykäinen describes the stages of Ecolam.
Now Ecolam looks to the future.
– The current order book looks good. We develop continuously and want to regenerate. Ecolam will remain in Polvijärvi and we are already planning new investments, Lyhykäinen says.