A company run with steely resolve

Ville Honkanen and Toni Salmi from Mikkeli aimed for entrepreneurship from a young age. MetForce Oy has been enjoying strong growth since acquiring the operations of Lemi-based company Artun Paja Ky.

Sometimes the choice of career is a no-brainer: Ville is a metalworker, and he never even considered anything else. Inspired by the numerous entrepreneurs in his family and circle of friends, he always saw entrepreneurship as the way to go. Toni started out in chemical engineering, so he took the scenic route to the metal industry, but he also had entrepreneurs in his inner circle. As a team, they share operative and administrative responsibilities, and their roles play to their natural strengths.

MetForce Oy was originally Ville’s idea. As a man of action, he had already started the founding process and met with a business advisor at the local Enterprise Agency for the Mikkeli region in September 2017 when he realised he could use some help with the administrative side.

“Two people always have a broader field of expertise than one. Of course, a business partner is also someone to share responsibility with and bounce ideas off,” Ville says.

Youth as an asset

Business advisor Heli Tavasti applauds Toni and Ville’s steely resolve.

“They had clear plans for their operations from the outset. The entrepreneurs’ young age is unusual in the industry. Their youthful energy and the can-do attitude it brings are particular assets to the company.”

Heli’s advice on calculations and funding was particularly useful when setting up the company, as the initial investments in machinery were significant. She also attended their first investment aid meeting with the ELY Centre.

Focus spurred by growth

MetForce Oy started out as a machine shop offering machining and renovations. Being the CEO of a small business requires multitasking, and Toni participated in production and installation work whenever he had the time. However, they always knew they also wanted to employ other people and expand their operations. They started out with one employee, and the team soon grew to five people including the entrepreneurs.

In the later winter of 2019, Toni and Ville heard that Artun Paja was looking for someone to take over its operations.

“We happened upon them at an opportune time, and the acquisition was finalised in July. It enabled us to grow significantly and steered our operations in a new direction: we decided to focus on manufacturing CE-marked structural steelwork from the start of 2020.”

The acquisition of Artun Paja also yielded MetForce ten new employees. Now, they are able to offer shorter delivery times to match the competition in the industry.

Heli stresses that acquiring another business requires careful preparation. The MetForce board already had expertise in due diligence, so outside help was mainly only needed for drawing up the contracts.

Toni encourages anyone bitten by the entrepreneurship bug to consider acquiring an existing company.

“A company lives and dies by its business idea. But if you don’t have one, there’s nothing stopping you from finding someone who does and simply needs a partner to help or take over.”