Decorated javelin throwers Antti Ruuskanen and Tero Pitkämäki found a new career path
Antti Ruuskanen and Tero Pitkämäki, decorated javelin throwers will continue their competitive careers. However, the stick is no longer flying, but the purpose is to get logs out of Finnish forests as cost-effectively as possible.
In December last year, the men founded Pitkämäki & Ruuskanen Forest Oy, whose slogan is eloquent: Masterful forestry.
- We competed together for years. At competitions and traveling, stories were often told about forests and the impact of forests on an athlete’s life. Towards the end of their career, the discussions turned more concretely to the forests and the opportunities they offered after a competitive career. Thus we decided to set up a joint venture in a highly competitive industry, i.e. timber harvesting, Pitkämäki and Ruuskanen say.
Both recall that during their career, almost without exception, people would ask how the stick flies. Let’s see if people will from now on ask how the log flutters.
Power from the forest
The impact of forests on the competitive career of both men was significant. In terms of calming down and mental well-being, Finnish forests have been excellent places to recharge. The company started with second-hand equipment with a factory-refurbished 2017 Ponsse Scorpion, which had 14,000 operating hours on it. The forwarder had only 12,000 hours on it, but it is already ten years old. The choice of the brand was influenced by other things apart from Ponsse's involvement in supporting both men’s careers.
- One could not imagine a more sensible brand for the forests of Upper Savo. The factory, spare parts and efficient maintenance forms a safety net for a starting company, says Ruuskanen.
- Keitele Forest had familiar people and we’ve had some small business ventures over the years. They had a need for harvesting winter logging sites and so Tero and I decided to handle them. So far we have received good sites from first thinning to heavy regeneration felling, Ruuskanen sums up.
The harvester is driven by Antti Ruuskanen's brother Olli-Pekka. In addition to Finland, he has 25 years of experience in harvesting from Russia, Sweden and the Czech Republic.
- When I asked my brother as the harvester driver of a company to be set up with Tero, he had only one condition. The machine must be a Scorpion. Considering Olli-Pekka’s experience it was clear we had to invest on a Scorpion, Ruuskanen says.
According to Olli-Pekka, the Scorpion is an incredibly smooth machine, especially with thinnings. The crane is in line with the driver and you can see the obstacles at the bottom of the tree to be felled. Blade chains and flanges last longer when the field of vision is unobstructed. Despite all this, Olli-Pekka prefers Ergo for regeneration fellings.
The forwarder is driven by Sami Saastamoinen.
- Sami is my fishing buddy and I’ve known him for a long time. He was driving a loader at the Kemi mine when I inquired about his enthusiasm to change career. Sami got excited and it seems that Buffalo obeys his command quite well, Antti Ruuskanen says.
Comprehensiveness in sight
The goal of Pitkämäki and Ruuskanen is to develop the company in the direction of the most comprehensive forest management as possible. More and more sites are searched. Acquisitions and other work related to the sector, especially for forest owners, are planned.
The network of professionals working with the company is being strengthened all the time. Advice services, pre-clearing, planting and even helicopter ash spreading are added to services. The distribution of the ash is the responsibility of Tero Pitkämäki, who is the Chairman of the Board.
It makes sense to spread the ash from woodchip power plants back into the forests to improve the nutrient balance of the forest land and speed up carbon sequestration. The investment is, of course, large, but the benefits of ash fertilization clearly favor helicopter application.
For the coming season, a couple more operators are to be hired to make more efficient use of the machine capacity. However, skilled operators are hard to find. Young enthusiastic operators could be hired to operate the forwarder and in time their skills would be enhanced, but a harvester operator should have solid professional skills beforehand.
- Tero and I are used to getting both positive and negative feedback during our careers. We have learned to handle feedback constructively without letting it get to us. We believe that this experience is useful in business, Ruuskanen reflects.
The men say entrepreneurship and competitive sports are quite close to each other. Even an individual athlete cannot reach the top alone. There has to be a network of professionals around you that see the big picture as clearly as possible. In the network, personal chemistry must also go seamlessly together if you are to succeed. The same applies in business.
- I learned the value of teamwork during my sports career, i.e., we need to get a skilled team around our operation. The mental side is also very important, and communication must be open and businesslike, Ruuskanen knows.
Ruuskanen has quite a good experience in forest management. Seedlings have been planted in the forests of the home farm and seedlings have been rescued from the claws of the grass. Thinning of thicket was a natural continuum with age. The first real woodworking experience came with the Valtra 6400 equipped with Kronos' cart and crane.
- Yes, it also moved the logs, but a considerable jump in efficiency was achieved when moving to an actual forwarder.
The harvester was an older Ergo, which was used to fell logs and own forests.
Pitkämäki also seems to have moderate experience of forestry. The clearings and thinnings on their own small patch of forest have provided a counterbalance to the athletics career and coaching javelin.
Antti Ruuskanen is very satisfied with the way the entrepreneurs in the area have received the newcomer. Help, advice and encouragement has been plentiful. He mentions Nilakka Forest, Metsäkuljetus Hyvärinen and Metsäharvennus Matilaiset as the most important partners.
- Born in 1978 in Ilmajoki
- Former javelin thrower, Olympic medalist and a world champion
- Competitive career 2003-2019
- Personal record thrown in June 2005 in Kuortane, 91.53 meters
- European Male Athlete of the Year 2007
- Three-time Finnish Athlete of the Year (2007, 2013, 2015)
- The most successful Finnish javelin thrower in terms of the number of medals
- Participated in the Olympics four times, 2004-2016, won a bronze medal in Beijing in 2008
- Seven World Cup representations, won gold in Osaka 2007, silver in Moscow 2013 and bronze in Beijing 2015
- Five European Championship representations, won silver in Gothenburg in 2006, bronze in Barcelona in 2010 and Zurich in 2014.
- Thirteen-time Finnish championship medalist, eight gold medals, three silver medals and two bronze medals.
- Sports coach of the Sports Federation and personal coach of Oliver Helander
- Ponsse has been supporting Pitkämäki since 2004
- Chairman of the Board of Pitkämäki & Ruuskanen Forest Oy
- Born in 1984 in Pielavesi
- Former javelin thrower, Olympic medalist and a European Champion
- Competitive career 2002-2020
- Personal record thrown in August 2015 in Pori, 88.98 meters.
- Participated in the Olympics twice, won silver in 2012 in London and was sixth in 2016 in Rio.
- Five World Cup representations, placed fifth in Moscow in 2013 and Beijing in 2015
- Three European Championship representations, won gold in Zurich in 2014 and bronze in Amsterdam in 2016
- Nine-time Finnish Championship medalist, three gold medals, four silver medals and two bronze medals.
- Ruuskanen was known as a tough competitor, often reaching his best in the later rounds
- CEO of Pitkämäki & Ruuskanen Forest Oy