Wood processing has a long tradition in Suolahti, Central Finland. Suolahden Puu was the name of the company established by Svante and Heikki Kurikka in 1928, but it later became Kurikka Timber in deference to export operations and the Internet era. Still family-owned in the fourth generation, it continues down its tried and tested path with Managing Director Jaakko Kurikka at its helm.
“We are a pre-processor of sawn timber, serving the construction and woodworking industry, especially makers of doors and windows. We make finger-jointed glulam components for customers, and leave the profiling and painting to them. This degree of processing suits us,” says Kurikka.
It also seems to suit customers, because Kurikka Timber has grown into one of Europe’s largest further processors in the mechanical forest industry. In addition to the domestic market, exports to Europe have grown significantly in recent years.
“The market has favoured us and demand has been exceptionally good for a long time. Reliable sawn timber deliveries are important to us. This is one more reason why we have been looking forward to the start-up of production at Metsä Fibre’s Rauma sawmill.”
Consistent quality and predictability
Kurikka Timber starts with 40–50 different types of basic sawn timber, all precisely sawn. After processing, the number of products increases exponentially to around 800. Wood procurement is guided by customer needs, and grading is handled with the help of X-ray technology.
“We mainly use Finnish wood, which has a clear advantage over wood from Central Europe. Nordic wood from Finland grows straight, has the right fibre structure and is suitably resinous. The end products will be used in conditions where temperature differences can be as much as 80 degrees Celsius. Nordic wood withstands extreme cold as well as sweltering heat,” says Kurikka.
The company’s choice of wood is pine, in contrast to Central Europe, where spruce is the main raw material. Kurikka emphasises that pine has better weather resistance than spruce and it is also easier to handle. Most importantly, customers also prefer pine.
“Our customers are extremely quality-conscious professional industrial joiners, who want the quality of their own products to be as high as possible. For us, they pose a positive challenge in a growing branch of industry.”
To ensure good quality, Kurikka Timber’s products pass through 50–100 quality inspection points before being shipped to customers. The company has its own testing laboratory for quality inspections. However, everything begins with the raw material.
“Consistent quality is our number one priority. Next in importance is the predictability of supply, which allows us to meet customer expectations as well as satisfy our own growth plans.”
Shared values facilitate cooperation
Kurikka Timber ran its own wood procurement and sawmill operations until 2009. Today, Metsä Fibre is the company’s key raw material supplier.
“We have a reliable and straightforward partnership in a tough market. Kurikka Timber and Metsä Fibre have similar values, representing Finland at its best,” Kurikka says.
A long-term approach, with goals beyond the next quarter, is typical of both companies and the same applies to their customers.
Kurikka Timber receives sawn timber products from all Metsä Fibre sawmills. Jaakko Kurikka is very open about his expectations for the new Rauma sawmill.
“We expect efficient processes, consistent quality and large volumes. These are what our growth plans are based on.”
Sustainably into the future
Responsibility and sustainability are important topics in the wood processing industry as well. Kurikka Timber has put a lot of effort into promoting these goals. The managing director says it is not always easy to explain practical matters to stakeholders.
“Our customers expect us to operate sustainably. To save nature and money, we procure sawn timber without plastic wraps. We have also worked hard to minimise waste and improve recycling and energy efficiency.”
High and consistent quality, reliable deliveries, sustainable forestry and production, smooth and reliable cooperation with all parties – in short, these are the pillars of Kurikka Timber’s growth-oriented future.
This article was originally published in Timber Magazine issue 2022–2023.