SPINNING FINNISH SHEEP WOOL FOR OVER 70 YEARS
Pirtin Kehräämö Oy was established by the Finnish Sheep and Goat Breeders Association on 30 December 1948. The company started its operations at the beginning of the next year in the old stone cowbarn owned by the association in Hiirola, a small country village near Mikkeli, where the business is still located.
At the beginning, the business idea revolved around so-called “hired spinning” that inspired the slogan: “WOOL FOR US - YARN FOR YOU”.
When the company was founded in post-war Finland, sheep farming played a significant role in the vitality of the countryside. As a result, the number of spinning mills increased to over 100 spinning mills and carding plants. As the society started developing, though, the number of sheep decreased and, at the same time, the number of spinning mills fell rapidly. Luckily Pirtin Kehräämö still had plenty of work.
EXPERT DEVELOPMENT AND
RENEWAL IN HIIROLA
n the 21st century, sheep farming as an industry is in revival and the number of sheep farms has increased. Increased amounts of wool, higher appreciation of sheep's wool as a genuine and soft natural product and, in particular, increased demand for yarns and other products made from Finnsheep wool highlighted the need to develop the company's operations and production.
This development has been particularly affected by the strengthening of consumers' ecological values, the increased popularity and appreciation of handicrafts as a hobby and the challenges posed by growing online shopping.
With the 2018-2021 development project, Pirtin Kehräämö Oy strengthened its production capacity and invested in improving product quality and the use of renewable energy for heating their facilities and wool washing water as well as for lighting. Our production is carbon neutral, and the company is involved in combatting climate change. With these investments, we managed to grow the company and partly met the growing demand of consumers. We are currently in the process of updating our information system. The entire operation, starting with the purchase, processing and sale of wool, as well as all other activities, are processed in the information network. At the same time, we will also update our online shop to the modern day.
The continued increase in demand and the discussion about the disposal of sheep wool gave us a good reason to increase capacity. We had set our sights on Jämsän Huopatehdas (felt factory) for a year, knowing that the owner Pertti Alho had long been in the process of stopping production. After a year of talks, the Board of Directors of Pirtin Kehräämö Oy made a decision to purchase the company's machinery and property. From the beginning of 2021, the Jämsä factory will operate as a branch of Pirtin Kehräämö Oy. After recruiting and training personnel, the operations at the factory are now at full swing. The machinery and property require development and repairs. Currently one production line is in use, and another one will be in operation by autumn. The Jämsä factory is also in a process of giving up the use of oil and start using district heat produced by renewable energy.
As an important part of the development work, we want to increase the appreciation and visibility of Finnish sheep wool and, in particular, Pirtin Kehräämö's own products. Brand work creates a foundation for appreciation. The yarns and other products manufactured by Pirtin Kehräämö are sold under the Villanka brand. Our brand has been awarded the Key Flag symbol confirming our products are made in Finland, and they are a part of the Finnwool brand.
DEVELOPING WOOL PROCUREMENT
Pirtin Kehräämö Oy has been buying wool from breeders, who ship the material to Hiirola. The growing need for wool requires a new procurement process. The company has started working on updating its wool procurement and collection process. The aim is to invest in a network of contract producers and to open 3 or 4 new reception points for wool located in Jämsä and key production areas in addition to Hiirola. The Jämsä location will be opened by the autumn shearing season.
An important part of the project involves developing a quality system for producing high-quality wool and providing training to sheep breeders in cooperation with ProAgria.
Pirtin Kehräämö is investing in Finnish sheep wool, especially the Finnsheep and Kainuu grey breeds. We also buy wool of cross-bred sheep and sheep bred for meat production.
At Jämsä, we also spin wool purchased abroad based on customer-specific orders.
PIRTIN KEHRÄÄMÖ OY TODAY
After the implementation of the development measures, the company will have 19 employees. In 2020, our turnover was EUR 696,000, and we processed about 30,000 kilograms of wool into different products for breeders, our own sales and other customers.
With our new unit, our goal is to double the use of wool in 2021 to 60,000 kilograms.
PIRTIN KEHRÄÄMÖ’S MANAGEMENT
Board of Directors:
Olli Nepponen, Chair
Managing Director Päivi Hämäläinen