Palax firewood processors’ speed and reliability are invaluable in the firewood production for the Finnish family business Klapila. Their firewood is sold in Norway and Japan too.
Marjaana Suominen owns Klapila.fi, the family business famous for its high-quality firewood. Their firewood is produced in Lapua, Finland, on the farm that has been owned by the same family for more than four centuries. Marjaana’s spouse Erkka Suominen is responsible for the company’s product development and foreign sales.
In 2012, they became the 18th couple to run the farm. At the time, they decided to switch the focus of production from potato to firewood, alongside traditional farming and forestry. They manage their business 400 km away from the farm, in Espoo, South of Finland.
“The potato farm’s infrastructure with forklifts, potato boxes and large storage halls suited ideally for firewood production. Firewood has also been made on the farm before, not full-time but as extra income,” Marjaana says.
Firewood processor’s speed and excellent hydraulic log clamp are essential
Firewood has always been made with Palax circular saw machines, also at the time when the old farmer, Marjaana’s father, managed the family farm. Today, Klapila uses the C750 firewood processor, known for its fast cycle time and named after its 750 mm hard metal blade, as well as the previous generation’s processor Power 70 with its 700 mm hard metal blade.
“A circular saw blade is an unquestionable choice when making firewood with a large volume,” Erkka says. “For example, the excellence of the C750 is crystallized in its speed and hydraulic log clamp that presses wood down before it goes to the circular saw blade. Thanks to the functionality of the hydraulic log clamp, the blade has never got stuck, even though the machine has processed thousands of cubes of wood in the couple of years”.
The blade innovation used by Palax is also praised: there has been no need for sharpening the blade nor any dead teeth during the two years of active use. According to Erkka, a circular saw is much more suitable for their production than a chain saw.
“The chain saw is slower, you need to sharpen it frequently and add chain oil. The chain saw also generates a lot of sawdust. We have tried out the chain saw for a while, but have returned to the circular saw very quickly”.
Watch the video of Klapila’s firewood production with the Palax C750 firewood processor.
Exporting to Norway and Japan
Firewood is sold all year round, but the cold season in the Nordic countries is the traditional high season: during harsh winters, more wood is sold, and during mild ones, less. Klapila’s busiest sales peaks usually take place from September to October and from December to February. Most deliveries go to the Finland’s “growth triangle”, i.e. regions of Helsinki, Tampere and Turku, but there are also customers all the way to Finnish Lapland.
“Consumption habits are changing. Today, easy availability of goods and service are valued. For consumers, the products are available on the online store, and orders are neatly packed with home delivery. For retail stores, such as K-Supermarkets and Neste K service stations, we deliver the firewood packed in cardboard boxes,” Marjaana describes.
Klapila also exports Finnish birch firewood abroad: the company’s main export countries are Norway and Japan.
“At the last time, in early January, two sea containers of firewood were shipped to Japan. The fireplace importer in Tokyo, which sells our products, has the feeling that demand will grow in the future,” Erkka says.
The aesthetics of firewood is one of the most important purchasing criteria, especially abroad.
“A few years ago, the Japanese would have wanted to buy our firewood already in the spring, even though it wasn’t dry yet. They explained that the newly felled trees are so beautifully white. However, we didn’t agree to sell firewood that wasn’t dry”.
Annual production is at its best 6,000 loose cubic meters
Klapila is specialized in the production of Finnish birch firewood. Logs of fixed length and diameter are procured from Lapua Forestry Association whose representative Olli Turja is praised for being “the superagent” and “Mr Forest” to Klapila. Olli is instructing forest machine operators in raw material sourcing; for the efficiency of production and the quality of the final product, it is essential to be able to precisely define the length and thickness of logs to minimize undersized pieces. For Klapila, the best birch trunks are of 18-22 cm in diameter which can be split into four or six pieces of firewood in one go. For sale, the end result is quality firewood of traditional 30 cm piece length.
“Our production runs from December to March. On a sunny winter day, we can make around 75 loose cubes and in a year, a total of about 5,000-6,000 loose cubes. We have one employee on a regular basis on the firewood production and an additional 5-6 employees during the high season for packing and shipping. The old farmer is a standard equipment,” Erkka says.
Raw material and the Finnish workforce are expensive, which is why Klapila does not compete on the price of firewood, but rather focuses on their own specialty, the quality end product, and is seeking moderate growth.
“Our strength is a top-quality, easily accessible product and customer-oriented service. We are able to deliver to the whole of mainland Finland quickly and reliably with the help of Posti’s (the main Finnish postal service) distribution network,” Marjaana says.
Get to know Klapila: Klapila.fi