JTK Power turns 20 – what is the secret of their success?
JTK Power's path has taken it from Vaasa to Vöyri, Isokyrö, China and Estonia. The company’s products can be found both in luxury cruisers and power plants around the world. Its employees enjoy working so much that they even prolong their careers. CEO Timo Viitala has held on to his dreams and has faith in the future.
JTK Power is celebrating its 20th year in business this year. In 2017, the company's turnover grew by more than 45% and it has some 200 employees in Vöyri and Isokyrö in Finland, Estonia and China. But what is the secret behind the company’s success?
To answer that question we need to look at what happened before JTK Power came into existence. The company founders, JTK Power’s CEO Timo Viitala, Kari Rinta and Harri Luukkainen, were workmates in the same enterprise. They got on so well that they began to think about starting a business together.
Investments of millions and faith in their own work
When Metalli-Jokela, a manufacturer of doors for air raid shelters, came on the market in 1998 the three workmates decided to make an offer. A month after the negotiations had started, the company was theirs. JTK Power was able to begin its operations immediately because its founders were well known among customers.
The company was located next to the plot that is currently home to the department store Hong Kong in Vaasa, but there were plans to build a shopping centre across the two plots. JTK Power searched for new premises in Vaasa but ended up in Vöyri in 2001 where they found the perfect business premises.
“We had invested about seven million Finnmarks into the company’s old premises. When we moved to Vöyri, we invested another seven million Finnmarks into the modernisation of the new industrial hall. We believed in ourselves. The greatest challenge was to present a credible image to our customers. It was in those years that we created the trust between our customers and ourselves, and I believe that this trust is still the secret of our success today,” Viitala says.
Trust feeds itself
The company’s main principle is to stand by its promises. The same trust holds true also inside the business. If an employee is promised something, the company keeps its word. Viitala emphasises that this goes both ways: the company also trusts their employee’s word.
“I believe that trust feeds itself. When we recruit new employees, they soon discover the open atmosphere we have here. No one at the factory has to put their head down and ‘look busy’ when the boss walks in. And if an employee comes to me and says ‘this is how it is’, then that’s how it is.”
Viitala says that the past 20 years have gone by quickly. For him, JTK Power is like a child whose every step he’s watched and been involved with. Despite the hurdles of the early years, things have always turned out a little better than expected.
“Now all our staff can be proud of what we have achieved. I feel that I’ve made my dreams come true and huge thanks for that goes out to our highly-skilled employees.”
Business acquisition took the weight off
In 2013, JTK Power was sold to the Swedish Koncentra Verkstads Ab and a few years after that, Rinta also left JTK Power. Viitala and Luukkainen still continue in the company.
“Originally, we had no idea of ever selling the company. But when the offer came, we seized it. Even so, it was important to me that the name JTK Power remained and I hope it won’t change in the future either. The name is a reminder of the company’s early years and founders.”
Selling the company, was it good idea?
”For a few weeks after the deal I kept wondering if we were making the right decision. But in the end, selling the company was a very good decision, especially as it allowed us to expand even more in China. A large owner brings security to JTK Power’s operations and affords opportunities to expand into new markets.”
Great employees smoothed the path to successThe staff as builders of success
Let’s return to the secret behind JTK Power’s success for a little bit longer. Of JTK Power’s staff, 45% have worked for the company for more than 10 years, and employee turnover is low. Some people even prolong their careers in order to work for the company longer. Last year, the cleaner and office assistant retired at more than 70 years old. What makes people enjoy their work is the company's excellent team spirit.
Our vision – to be the best in the world
Viitala envisages JTK Power as an increasingly global company in the future.
“I hope JTK Power will carry on for another 20 years at least. I see us still operating in Vöyri in the future but expanding also to Europe. Our vision is to be the best manufacturer of silencers in the world and to ensure our employees, customers and end users are able to have a good night’s sleep. At JTK Power, every one of us is working towards ensuring that we are the best in the world.”
In the photo: Jouni Hartikainen, Timo Viitala and Jarmo Latvala.