It was not the first time selling the company came up in conversation. It had already been discussed a few times. Mikko Kokki was nevertheless taken by surprise when Jari Makkonen, Metsä-Raikuu’s entrepreneur, brought up the topic at a felling site in March a year ago.
“The company had acquired a new machine, and Jari said he would come and test it. But then the talk turned to selling the company.”
Metsä-Raikuu Oy, a wood contractor of Metsä Group, is one of the largest harvesting companies in the Savonlinna area. In 1973, Jari Makkonen’s father, Raimo Makkonen, set up a wood transport company. The operations, which began with a single Valmet Jehu tractor, expanded over the years, and the fleet now consists of four machine chains, nearly twenty employees, and two subcontractors. Today, Metsä-Raikuu’s sales are almost three million euros.
In 2003, the company transferred to Jari Makkonen’s ownership and it got its present name.
“Jari first mentioned selling the company one and a half years ago – jokingly, perhaps. I guess he had started thinking about it more seriously after that,” says Anssi Kokki.
Attracted by the forest sector
Both Mikko and Anssi Kokki, two brothers from Kerimäki in Eastern Finland, have worked in the forest all their lives. Mikko’s interest in working as a forest machine operator was kindled when he was a teenager and saw Metsä-Raikuu’s operators at a felling site in his home town.
“I got to ride on one of the machines, and that gave me the spark. After comprehensive school, I continued my studies at a forestry school and have worked in the sector ever since.”
Mikko had a go at upper secondary school, but after six months, he concluded that it was not for him.
“I didn’t find it interesting. So, I applied to forestry school, completed a basic degree in forest management and then continued with an apprenticeship, where I first learned to operate a forwarder and five years later, a harvester.”
After completing military service, Anssi completed a basic degree in logistics and then drove a wood lorry for seven years.
Entrepreneurial spirit shone through
Before buying the company, Mikko and Anssi had operated a harvester together at Metsä-Raikuu for more than three years. The brothers and Makkonen often discussed how the company’s operations could be developed and how costs could be cut. When Makkonen was on holiday, Mikko stood in for him.
“Maybe Jari noticed our entrepreneurial spirit during those discussions. Or maybe it just shone through,” says Mikko Kokki.
Mikko and Anssi had considered entrepreneurship at an earlier point. However, as it is difficult for new players to enter the field, they dropped the idea.
Nevertheless, Metsä-Raikuu offered a complete package, including employees, machines and a contracting agreement with Metsä Group. The brothers were more than pleased with Metsä Group’s response to the business changing hands.
“We contacted Metsä Group to find out whether we could get an agreement if we decided to acquire the company. We ended up signing an agreement there and then,” says Mikko Kokki.
The preliminary agreement was concluded in December 2022, and the final contract was signed on 4 January.
“Metsä Group is a good partner and a reliable customer: things work smoothly with them, and you can trust their promises. You get the feeling that you’re working towards the same goal,” says Mikko Kokki.
Brother as a pillar of support
Despite the tough world situation, including the war in Ukraine, and the increasing costs, the brothers look confidently to the future.
“Metsä-Raikuu is a functioning company. This business acquisition doesn’t worry me nearly as much as starting from zero would have,” says Anssi Kokki.
Finnish wood is now in high demand, which adds to his confidence.
If things take a turn for the worse, who could be a better business partner than your own brother.
“I can always count on Anssi to take care of his responsibilities. Who can you trust as much as your own brother?” says Mikko Kokki.
“That’s very true. Although his feedback can be harsh, Mikko is still a pillar of support. We can share our work and plan the company’s business together. It would be a lot tougher on my own. I wouldn’t have done this with anyone else,” says Anssi Kokki.
Text Maria Latokartano
Photo Markku Tissarinen
This text is an abbreviated version of an article published in Metsä Group’s Viesti 1/2023.