Tana Oy / Kari Kangas from Jyväskylä were presented the prestigious Regional Entrepreneur of the Year 2020 award for Central Finland on Saturday 10 April by the Federation of Finnish Industries in Central Finland.
Tana is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of solid waste treatment equipment. The company is a pioneer in its field in the use of electronic control systems and intelligent solutions. All operations are based on data control, which is being continuously developed in close collaboration with customers. The company is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and Kari Kangas has been the principal owner of the company for the past 25 years.
From a CFO in a suit to an entrepreneur in boots
Twenty-five years ago, Kangas was moving to Helsinki to start a career at Nokia when fate stepped in and he was persuaded by a friend to become an entrepreneur instead.
“Before Tana, I worked in a big organisation as CFO. I felt that my work was really slow and sluggish, and I was looking for a new direction in my life. By sheer coincidence, a friend invited me to join this company. I joined my friend in negotiations in which Tana was being sold, and here I am still today. I took a risk and notified Nokia that I was becoming an entrepreneur. When weighing my options as an entrepreneur, landfills were the last thing I could have thought of. I went from a CFO in a suit to an entrepreneur in boots, but I would not change a day. At the time of the acquisition, Tana was in bad condition, but though determined work and the confidence of financiers, we made the company profitable already in our first financial year.”
Trying, risk-taking and hoping for success
“It is often said that there are three recession-free industries in the world: funeral homes, the waste industry, and the legal profession. During the corona crisis, however, it has to be said that the past year has also had an impact on the waste industry.”
Although Tana had to compromise a little in terms of its pace of growth, the company still produced a strong result. The start of this financial year has also been the best in 25 years. Tana is among the world’s three largest manufacturers of landfill compactors, and it has grown on average by 20 percent a year over the past three years. In terms of growth, Tana has very interesting times ahead of it.
“Everything turned out well despite corona. Our crisis resilience proved to be very good, and our employees put a lot of passion into their work. Even though the market declined, we stuck to our plans and did not lay off any people.”
The company today is indeed in good condition and profitable. Last year, it posted an operating profit of 3.6 million euros.
“I was not the founder of the company, and I did not pull it out of the mud alone. We have all worked together as a team. This award belongs to everyone who has been with us along the way.”
Kangas feels that respect for entrepreneurship has risen in Finland, and young people increasingly see entrepreneurship as a viable option for employment and for realising themselves.
“There is really no better opportunity for realising one’s own dreams and working. Entrepreneurship is an adventure in which you have to trust yourself and dare to take risks. Just as there are many risks, there are also opportunities for success. I am happy that I had the courage to say yes to entrepreneurship.”
Watch Kari’s interview about entrepreneurship