Exceptional times, such as a global pandemic, can jeopardize and complicate many things, but it can also spark creativity and new ideas. The CEO of Peikko Group, Topi Paananen, knows this from a personal experience. During the pandemic he understood that many of the people behind Peikko’s story are aging, and that it was high time to record their unique stories. Paananen immediately contacted author and storyteller Karo Hämäläinen. Their shared journey began – of course – with a tour of Peikko’s Lahti factory.
”On the factory tour Topi talked to me about Peikko, and also left a mystery in my mind: how does a small family business from Lahti, Finland, grow into a global player in a traditional industry? Solving this mystery became the backbone of the story.”, Hämäläinen says.
To solve the mystery, Hämäläinen took a deep dive into Peikko’s culture, spirit and history.
”During the project I met a lot of people who either work or used to work for Peikko – the people who have affected Peikko’s story. I visited many worksites and saw Peikko solutions being cast into concrete or connecting timber with concrete. I traveled to Slovakia to marvel at the local factory and the Peikko spirit. Tracking the spirit was a key part of the journey. I also took part in various Teams meetings, jumping from one time zone to another, conversating with Peikko people from around the world.”
Topi Paananen says that circa 50 former and current Peikko people took part in telling their stories for the book. Paananen would’ve liked to have even more people participate, were it possible.
”First and foremost, this book is about the people of Peikko. It’s about how we’ve worked together to build such an amazing company. Whether it is by chance, skill or luck, we’ve done it together. The book is an homage to all these great people and stories”, Paananen explains.
For the CEO, the book project was fun, inspiring and offered several lessons. A plentitude of stories and materials gave him new perspectives into the company. For example, a story about certain Lithuanian fellows and their alleged lunch-time mistake was both surprising and highly amusing to Paananen. Even after 17 years in the company, there were many things he had never heard of.
That is one of the reasons why Peikko: a success story is not a traditional history account, but a book brimming with juicy, meaningful stories. The book is an interesting read for anyone interested in business life and stories of real people. Boldly doing things and making decisions is at the very heart of the book. “The most important takeaway from the book is that you need to be determined and make decisions. Sometimes things go south, and success is never guaranteed, but somehow you still succeed. Sometimes it’s good to ponder a bit, but just going ahead and doing things – that works for Peikko”, Paananen tells.
The same culture of quick decision-making is reflected in a story that stuck in the mind of author Hämäläinen. “In the early years of Peikko, founder Jalo Paananen heard from the news that the Finnish currency, mark, was about to be devaluated. As Paananen had a large steel order in plans, he realized he needed to act immediately. So, he ran to the post office, and got the order stamp for that exact day – with the pre-devaluation rate.”, Hämäläinen tells, and adds that even a story as juicy as this one didn’t make it into the book. “This dedication to think and act fast still perfectly illustrates Peikko’s way of operating. It’s ice-cold decision-making in a world that keeps on changing.”, Hämäläinen continues.
Audio book available in English and in Finnish at Storytel, Bookbeat, Nextory, Elisa, Supla,
Suomalainen+, Podimo and Ellibs.