Iisakki Järvenpää Osakeyhtiö

About This Project

Iisakki Järvenpää Osakeyhtiö is a knife factory established in 1879 in Kauhava. They are unique in their own industry both regarding production and product portfolio. The techniques and knives that were developed and materials that were used in the early days still form the basis for the operation. The newest novelties on the production side are machines, such as drills, that work with electricity, but otherwise everything is handcrafted.


The company was at some point very international had a declining export when coming to the 21st century. However, during the last decade with new owners the export has gained new growth. The web shop has played a central role in this process, and in addition, the company has tried to find suitable resellers abroad. After the US and Sweden, the company has put their aim on entering the Japanese market. To reach that goal, the company joined Viexpo’s export project for a group of companies.


For this article, we interviewed the CEO and one of the owners Jarkko Haukkala, and Tuija Haukkala, who is responsible for the web shop and marketing.


When making this interview, Viexpo has their second export project for a group of companies to Japan going on. Iisakki Järvenpää Osakeyhtiö was asked to participate already in the first project to Japan called “Pohjanmaalta Japaniin”, but then the time was not right, as the new owners’ resources were tied elsewhere. When the group for the second project “Pohjanmaan design- ja lifestyle yritykset Japanin markkinoille” was being gathered, they thought that the time was right. They were also convinced about the contents and goals of the project.


It was clearly specified in the project description what you get from it. It was the first time I have seen anything like that, that all the activities are beneficial, Jarkko Haukkala says.

One of the strengths in these kinds of exports projects is the group itself. The perception at Iisakki Järvenpää was that the other participating companies are similar, and it was one of the important reasons for joining. You can also find collaboration possibilities within the group, which, for instance, in this case relates to the big sauna boom taking place in Japan.


We feel that we fit in the group and that we take things forward together. We are all doing things thing together, Jarkko Haukkala states.


A presentation video and a brochure in Japanese, the help from Japanese experts in finding contacts as well as a sales speech training are examples of concrete actions, which they feel they have and are gaining a lot of benefit from. The best thing is that the project provides not only benefits for you exporting activities to Japan, but also to other areas of your operations.


You don’t just do a report and put it on the shelf, but instead everything leads to something and is a part of an entity, Tuija and Jarkko Haukkala reflects.


They are also convinced about the company’s possibilities to influence the content.


We have been able to influence the content very well. Based on our wishes Viexpo really actively looks for ways to make them come true in the best possible way, Tuija Haukkala says.


It is also characteristic for projects that they have a clear schedule that is followed. This gets a lot of appraisals as you cannot move tasks, but you must deal with them in time. Thanks to this, your export operations are truly improved.


The representatives of the company highlight that the work is by no means done alone, but in continuous interaction with Viexpo and the other participating actors. This provides a lot of help, especially when you are not experienced in building export.


If we ask what we could do, we get concrete propositions. With the help of sparring and questions it has become clear for us what we want to do regarding our exports. It is also important when you get to hear others’ experiences and when some of them have already been there in Japan, you can talk with them how it has gone, which solutions might work and so on, Jarkko Haukkala opens up.


The company thinks it was the right decision not to participate in the first project. They are now more ready and have also found answers to the right questions. Although the project is still ongoing, there have clearly already been several valuable actions and results. If one result was to be highlighted, it has to do with the larger picture of the own export activity.


The best thing until now is that it has become clear for us what we export. What are the products that are worth for us to ship abroad. The project has forced us to think about it quite a lot and we have found the spearhead. It has been hard work, but it has been rewarding and it will probably be of help in many other areas besides in this project, Jarkko Haukkala says.


At the time of the interview, expectations are related to the upcoming trip to Japan, where they get to, for instance, meet reseller candidates in the Finnish embassy. The goal is to find one or two resellers who appreciate Iisakki Järvenpää Osakeyhtiö’s products and activity as well as the other way around.


There would be a brick-and-mortar store that sells, for instance, swords or kitchen knives, i.e. their quality products, and our products would then be there next to them. They should also have a web shop.


The people at Iisakki Järvenpää are very satisfied with the proceeding of the project and the cooperation with Viexpo. Especially the customer-oriented activity and easiness of communication are appraised.


The expectations were high based on the description, and they have been fulfilled. In addition, the cooperation has been excellent. If something comes on our mind, it is very easy to contact Carita (Viexpo’s Senior Advisor Carita Pöntiö). Everything that we have thought about have always proceeded and a solution has been found, 


They are also thankful for the job that Viexpo is doing in overseeing the use of project money and making sure that the companies get value for their money. The many tips of different experts have also been of great value.


What tips do Jarkko and Tuija then have for companies who are planning to export? Right timing and understanding of what it requires to be successful in exports as well as help from experts, which you can get, for instance, from these kind of export projects, are emphasized. In the end you also have to remember that you must be willing to work.


We absolutely recommend that it is worth joining this kind of a project. What you have to keep in mind is that no one brings it ready for you. You get help and frame to which you must find the answers by yourself. It is also good that you get the overseeing, so things get done, Jarkko Haukkala states.


It is also good that someone looks at your business from the outside with a stranger’s eyes, Tuija Haukkala ends.



You can read more about Iisakki Järvenpää Osakeyhtiö here: https://www.iisakkijarvenpaa.fi/

You can read more about Viexpo’s export projects for groups here: https://viexpo.fi/en/internationalisation-services/export-projects-for-groups-of-companies/