RISTO KASURINEN - Gymstick International Oy
Everything started from his own innovation, and now the product range covers almost 300 products
Gymstick International is an inspiring success story from Lahti, with a product range that covers almost 300 different fitness and wellness products. Gymstick, a product developed by Risto Kasurinen in his garage, has sold almost a million units.
Gymstick International Oy’s success story started almost by accident. Kasurinen, who has a degree in sports management and has previously worked in the development of Nordic walking, among other things, created a prototype of a fitness stick equipped with rubber bands for his company, which was called Viremestarit Oy at the time. The idea was to use the device to educate and train customers, but once the test batch of 500 units sold out almost overnight, they decided to start developing and selling the product to a larger audience. Today, the company founded by Kasurinen and his business partner, CEO Miika Vesalainen, is a global operator that competes with the largest sports product companies in the world.
’In half a year, Gymstick had become our primary product, and we started subcontracting its manufacture. Viremestarit became Gymstick International, and now, after fifteen years, we have sold almost a million Gymsticks. Our product range also includes 300 other products, and we distribute products to about 40 different countries. Pretty good for a company that was started almost by accident,’ Development Manager Kasurinen says with a laugh.
Everything started from his own innovation, Gymstick, which has now sold almost a million units.
Although Gymstick’s products are available in Finland through both department stores and sports stores, internationality has been Gymstick’s strength and goal from the very beginning. Today, the product is sold in over 40 countries, and the company is focused on gaining new customers in them, for example through local online shops.
Gymstick International Oy
Gymstick International Oy is a Finnish, international manufacturer of sports equipment that sells products to over 40 countries. Its product range includes over 300 products. The company was founded in 2003 and is headquartered in Lahti.
Well-being from Lahti to the world
‘Lahti is the perfect place for Gymstick. The costs remain in check, and the logistics work well. For example, we have roughly 200,000 products stored here, and if we maintained an inventory of the same size in the Helsinki Metropolitan area, the fixed costs of storage would probably be three times larger. From here, we have quick and easy access to the international market. We can transport the products abroad just as agilely from here as from Helsinki. Gymstick employs 15 people here in Lahti,’ Kasurinen comments.
People’s interest in training and well-being continues to increase – they have the time and money to train. The demand for various fitness equipment and products is on the rise, and they must be increasingly accessible.
‘Two years ago, we opened our own online shop, treenikauppa.fi, which sells Gymstick’s own products as well as products of our competitors. Opening the shop was a very good decision that has paid off excellently in terms of sales. The traditional retail sector is undergoing a transition, and consumers almost demand for an online shop to be available. It’s good customer service to provide a comprehensive purchasing experience in which the products and brands support each other. People are interested in well-being and fitness,’ Kasurinen says. ‘Coaching and fitness services are still a solid part of our business. In 2008, they were separated into their own unit, which employs 5 full-time and 30 part-time employees.’
‘Lahti is the perfect place for Gymstick. The costs remain in check, and the logistics work well.’
‘In the future, we’ll develop the company and products further. We’re doing well and haven’t had even one unprofitable year, so we must have done something right,’ Kasurinen continues happily.
TAPIO ANTTILA - Tapio Anttila Design Ky
Lahti Offers An Abundance Of Possibilities For A Designer
Tapio Anttila is an interior architect and a designer with a wide scope of expertise from home accessories to furniture and public space furnishings. Anttila works as a freelancer. His products received several design awards and are sold all over the world. Anttila believes Lahti has been instrumental in his success.
Anttila graduated as an interior architect from Helsinki University of Art and Design and since worked as an in-house designer in the Lahti-based Isku Oy, among others. He established his own business in 2005 and in 2012 was chosen to be Furniture Designer of the Year. Setting up his own business forced Anttila to reconsider the location of his business and his home, especially because his spouse had a job in the capital.
“Everyday matters tipped the scales in Lahti’s favor. Building a home in Lahti was cheaper, the children would be closer to their school and being self-employed is easier”, Anttila explained.
– Lahdessa on ollut aina merkittävää laboratoriotoimintaa. Jos ajattelee yrityshautomotoimintaa, niin tänne olisi hyvä tuoda niin testaus- kuin mittauslaitteidenkin kehitystä, pohtii Rambollin vesi-ja ympäristötoimialan johtaja Pentti Manninen.
Tapio Anttila Design Ky
Several design awards: Design Plus, Good Design, Fennia Prize, Adex Award.
Products are being manufactured and marketed by several companies, including Adi, Isku, Keraplast, Koskisen, Lundia, Laattapiste, Pedro, Selka, Showroom Finland, Vepsäläinen, Woodnotes.
Especially interested in Finnish wood and using it in a modern way.
A Wide Network Close By Increases Efficiency
When people need design services, they will not walk into a store in the city center. So the location does not matter as long as you can communicate by email and telephone and can get to the airport as quickly as you would from the capital region. Anttila has several on-going projects at a time and his clientele is spread out all over the world.
Many people have wondered how such a popular designer can work so hard. Anttila praises the good network around him: Traditionally, there is a lot of furniture industry in the Lahti region, and the industry has surrounded itself with subcontractors such as cabinetmakers, packaging companies, and prototype makers. Thanks to this network, he could be doing a job for someone in Italy in the morning and someone in the neighboring Nastola in the afternoon. His latest projects include a new kind of mailbox, a single-household outdoor recycling cabinet and a bird feeder.
“If I lived in Helsinki, I would need a day for each individual task. Here, all my partners are located within a 50 kilometer radius, and it is easy to operate in various sectors”, Anttila said.
Growth Does Not Mean Going Abroad
The Lahti Institute of Design is a great partner for Anttila, and he has already taken on several trainees. He also works as a course instructor at the Institute as a sort of hobby. Many young designers aspire to an international career, but Anttila advises them to reconsider. Few of them have taken his advice and set up shop in Lahti where there is less competition but plenty of opportunities.
Tapio Anttila Design has already conquered nearly all of Finland and is now setting its sights on international growth. Italy especially is offering interesting collaboration possibilities and Anttila has visited Milan several times over the past year.
“I have no need to move to Milan, though. Instead, I’d be looking into getting bigger premises here in Lahti if I could bear the thought of leaving my good spot”, Anttila said.
SANNA KIVELÄ - Grain Cluster | Viking Malt
The most extensive and multifaceted hub of grain competence in Finland operates actively in Päijät-Häme. It consists of the grain processing food industry of the region, farmers and retail operators, as well as advisory and development organisations. The value chain includes large top companies such as Hartwall, Fazer, Viking Malt, Sinuhe and Teerenpeli as well as an extensive group of SMEs of the field and hundreds of grain farmers. This cooperation between grain business operators was started at the operators’ own initiative, and it can be said to have been a significant pioneer in the development of the entire region’s industry.
“Kivelä has been working in grain purchasing for over nine years, four of which at Viking Malt.
“For the operators in the region, the grain cluster is an important cooperation and discussion forum, which has offered significant support to the field’s value chain development in the Lahti region. Päijät-Häme is a nationally significant cluster of grain business competence, measured both in grain usage and processing value of grain products,” says Kivelä. “The strength of the grain cluster is its diverse group of members that covers the entire value chain. Both the beer and bread chains have had an excellent opportunity to deepen their cooperation and develop their competence through their shared cluster operations, even on an international scale. In particular, I feel that it is important to develop the cooperation between farmers and the food industry in order to maintain the high level of the sector’s vitality and development opportunities in the region also in the future.”
Päijät-Häme Grain Cluster
The purpose of the Päijät-Häme Grain Cluster is to promote the regional networking of the cluster companies and the farmer members. It supports the cooperation of grain-processing companies and enhances the profile of the food industry.
The beer and beverage chain consists of ca. 450 barley farmers in the Päijät-Häme region, employing over 1000 people. The bread chain includes ca. 500 rye, barley and wheat farmers, providing a livelihood and employment for nearly 1200 people.
The grain cluster can be divided into the beer and beverage chain that employs over 1,000 people and the bread chain that employs almost 1,200 people. Together, the cluster’s beverage and bread chains employ up to 1,500 farmers of malted barley, rye, wheat and oats. The companies and operators in the grain cluster provide around 3,500 direct and indirect jobs.
“The local food businesses that process grain are the pioneers of the field in Finland. Thanks to the export investments and the development in the field, we can offer the farmers the opportunity to develop their own business operations in long-term cooperation with the local food industry.”
Competence and communication as focus areas
Päijät-Häme Grain Club operates within the Päijät-Häme Grain Cluster. It was established during the early years of the grain cluster to facilitate the cooperation between farmers and the industry, which is implemented through joint discussion and seminar events, for example. The next event will be the milled grain and malted barley seminar held at Sibelius Hall in Lahti on Monday 30 January 2017. The event will bring together over 300 contract farmers of the grain cluster.
The new President says that the grain cluster will continue to invest in developing the competence of the grain sector as well as promoting its recognition.
“The companies in the region have managed to renew traditional food products and increase their processing value through product development and design,” says Kivelä. “One of the future focus areas for the grain cluster operations is promoting its communication and marketing in order to create new growth opportunities for our network. Our cooperation model is exceptional and significant even on an international scale, which is something to be proud of and something we should let others outside our region know, too.”
Grain processing is both a traditional and a modern branch of the food industry. Finland’s 100th anniversary year is also a year of celebration for many companies in the grain cluster: Fazer just turned 125 years old, Hartwall 170, Vääksy Mill 75 and MTK 100, and Polttimo will soon celebrate its 135th anniversary.
Viking Malt is the leading Nordic malting company which offers a broad range of malt varieties to both small and large breweries. www.vikingmalt.com