Riku Härkonen graduated from Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences in 2000 as a mechanical wood processing engineer. A friend tipped him off to apply for a summer job at the UPM Pellos plywood factory, which soon led to a permanent position. During his more than 20-year plywood career, Riku has worked in plywood gluing, maintenance and cleaning, as well as in almost all production officer jobs at Pellos.
"As a lathe operator, I've only been there for half a day, though. Now that I'm Product Manager, it's a huge advantage that I've worked at the factory for a long time and know the whole production chain."
Quality and product standards as benchmark for work
Riku is currently one of four Product Managers at UPM Plywood. He is responsible for WISA spruce plywood products. As Product Manager, he ensures that the commercial life cycle of the products is long and sustainable. Quality and product standards, such as CE and UKCA marking, are the benchmarks of the Product Manager's work.
"When a customer buys a product, it must immediately be suitable for application in terms of technical characteristics and performance. The quality and reliability of WISA veneers is high, as there are very few complaints about our products. The customer can rest easy knowing that with WISA plywood, the job will be properly finished the first time."
The customer's needs come before everything else
The high point of Riku's work is when he gets to knuckle down with the customer to solve their needs. As technical support to the sales team, he works closely with the factory's production planner. Streamlining operations is his daily goal.
"My job is to bring together product features and production capabilities so that we can help customers achieve their goals. It's always great if we can come up with something new in the technical teams that people on the commercial side wouldn't think of. There are a huge number of end-uses for our products. You can find them everywhere if you keep your eyes open."
Riku enjoys the variety of his work and says that never have two days in his job been the same.
"In this job, you need the dexterity to adapt to constant change and learning new things. Good results come from having great people to work with."
Our Behind the Scenes article series offers a glimpse into modern plywood production and introduces professionals across a variety of roles at UPM Plywood.