Meet Pekka Sulkakoski, our Chairman of the Board. A long-term Jokasafe member, who started his Jokasafe career in 1979. Most of his career he has been managing the company, but for a few years ago they made a generational change and his daughter Karoliina Sulkakoski took the leadership of the company. Now he has started slowly to move on the next stage of his life and enjoy the retirement. Over 40 years of experience in PPE industry has brought a lots of unforgettable memories with customers and collegues.
”After all, it all started when I came to work in 1979 and the first job was to learn all the steps involved in making plastic and making gloves. So we started with the basics. In many cases, only a specific sector is managed, but here we had to start working from the scratch. It was a very good school because then you knew how to make gloves from scratch and what materials are needed for it. My own basic idea in work is to be actively involved in each stage of work in order to know what kind of work input is expected from the employee in each stage of work. At that time, there was no active visit to customers, but the gloves were mainly sold to itinerant merchants, who sold various merchandise, such as gloves, tools, toilet paper from the trailer containers to smaller stores.
This has been a long road since 1979. The biggest change that took place in my time was when Finland joined the EU in 1995. Before that, we had to work hard a couple of years to get the appropriate markings and certificates for the gloves in order to be able to sell the gloves in the future. The change cost us a lot at the time, but there were no other options. There have been a lot of details and risks associated with these years, especially when more machinery and equipment were purchased from Ähtävä in 1988. But we relied so much on our own making and know-how that the trade was dared to make at that time. The most memorable things over the years is most often related to Russian trade, where we often visited at various events, places and through it got to know nice and interesting people. There were never any problems in Russia, although sometimes you could find yourself in Siberia and think how will you survive from here when you were so far from home. But those sales trips went well nonetheless.
I leave the company with confidence to this group. I think we have a good team together to take care of things. I have full credit for them, they have language skills and a lot of new ideas. It feels like yourself have stuck to old formulas and there are no more new ideas to give. I have to say that at this point, you lack a little bit of the courage that is needed in this job. However, all in all I have got a lot of good relationships over the years from many different countries that have deepened to long-lasting friendships.”
Pekka is one of the people behind the Jokasafe gloves. Our products are made by professionals and out of passion towards safety.
1st generation 1960-1978
The story of the glove factory began in Evijärvi in 1960, when Matti Jokela and Esko Sulkakoski and their spouses decided to start manufacturing gloves with a plastic surface and founded Tmi Jokamuovi. The division of work was clear: Matti took care of technology and Esko finances. The first year of production of Sujo gloves was delivered in a rented detached house and until 1964 the plastics were mixed at Matti's home and the gloves were baked at Esko's home. There were four employees and at that time remote work was also done, meaning that home sewers took care of sewing glove liners. Esko's spouse Raili worked in the company's production and took care of the staff. Raili continues to take care of future generations and remembers to ask how the company is doing.
In 1965, the first own plot of land was purchased and the construction of modern production facilities began. In the 1970s, the export of gloves began abroad, first to Sweden and Norway, but soon also to the Soviet Union.
Exports already accounted for 50% at the end of the 1970s, and the first expansion of production facilities was carried out mainly due to Soviet trade.
Tmi Jokamuovi became Jokamuovi Oy in 1977 and at the same time more shareholders came from both families.
2nd generation 1979-2001
A new generation joined the company in 1979, when Esko's younger son Pekka, together with his wife Tuulikki Sulkakoski, jumped into the glove trade without prejudice.
Matti Jokela and gradually the entire Jokela family were left out of the company's operations in the mid-1980s. At the same time, the well-established Soviet trade also weakened. However, young entrepreneurs had enough courage on the verge of the recession, when Nokian Kumituote wanted to sell the machines of its glove factory in Ähtävä to Jokamuovi Oy in 1988, another expansion was made to the production facilities. The acquisition resulted in more products, markets and visibility. The share of exports at this stage was about 20%.
However, perhaps the greatest effort of the second generation was yet to come. Finland joined the European Union in 1995 and this meant the transition of the glove manufacturer to the manufacture of protective equipment. The products were tested, certified and CE marked. Construction of the ISO 9001 quality system began and new people were hired for production, marketing and financial management. Russian exports were also launched in the 1990s and have played a significant role since then. The brand changed to JokaSafe.
Pekka became the CEO in 2001.
3rd generation 2001 -
The company's third generation, Pekka and Tuulikki's oldest child, Karoliina Sulkakoski, came to work for the company already during her studies in the early 2000s. At this point, the company already employed almost 20 people, and since Tuulikki was responsible for the production and personnel and Pekka for domestic sales, Karoliina's job description was naturally found in exports and financial management. Esko wanted to transfer his financial know-how to Karoliina and was still strongly involved in the company's operations even after his retirement. The official generational change was made between grandfather Esko and Karoliina in 2009 and thus Pekka and Tuulikki had their daughter as a partner.
Esko passed away in 2016, at a high age of almost 89, and Karoliina became the third CEO in the company's history in 2017. Pekka started as Chairman of the Board after nearly 20 years of CEO. Tuulikki retired in 2018 and at the same time a new shareholder, Oy Verman Ab, joined the company. In 2019, the name was changed to the more international Jokasafe Oy.
Today, more than half of our turnover comes from exports and gloves are delivered to up to 25 different countries. The raw materials for the gloves are imported from five different countries, and the company has cooperation networks around the world. In 60 years, we have already learned that it is worth investing in quality and that you do not have to know everything yourself, it is enough to be able to ask for help. The Jokela family has also been brought back into the company's operations.