Walk around the outdoor machinery exhibits of both Agritechnica and Eurotier on Hanover’s exhibition grounds and you cannot miss the wide range of biofuel boilers and heating systems – but also mounted snow blowers and similar municipal and agricultural equipment – from Veljekset Ala-Talkkari Oy based in Finland Lapua. This company specialises in applying the latest technology for its products which include heating plants for domestic (30 to 990 kW capacity) and industrial applications (500 to 2000 kW). Antti Ala-Talkkari is CEO and one of the owners of this family firm with a 13 million € annual turnover (2016) and staff of more than 85 skilled personnel. The firm was founded by bothers Eero and Jussi Ala-Talkkari in 1955. And the next generation already in place with Antti’s son Mikko involved in export sales and technical support.
Antti Ala-Talkkari, what are the key factors that have made your family firm successful for over 60 years now?
We have concentrated on using the latest technologies in producing machinery for our customers who are often other machinery companies, but also include private householders. A sector we have become particularly expert in features biomass-fuelled central heating systems including boilers and low-emission solid fuel systems designed to suit the needs of both large and small-scale users including farm buildings and industrial factories.
You have been a member of the DLG for over 20 years and find that the organisation plays a crucial role in your business strategy. In what way is the DLG so important?
Being a DLG member and regularly attending major DLG events such as Agritechnica and Eurotier allows me and our company to present our latest innovations to customers coming from all over the world. These events are truly international and this is important for a company such as ours that already exports around 50% of production, not only to our European neighbours but also to the USA, Australia, Ukraine and Japan. In some countries we are assisted by marketing partners. But we also export directly: for instance, in Germany we have our own office and marketing facilities under the name Ala-Talkkari Germany in Oebisfelde, Saxony-Anhalt.
Does DLG membership help in the identification of trends in your market?
Definitely! After all, we pride ourselves in being very future-oriented in design of our machinery. The DLG represents a valuable aid in this respect, providing the latest information on machinery and technology trends worldwide. Often, this information gives us a head start in planning. Above all, events such as Agritechnica offer opportunities to talk to our customers and the last exhibition, for example, was very positive in this respect: The atmosphere was better than for many years. Our expectations were fulfilled.
Mr Ala-Talkkari, you have long term connections with farming in your native country. How is Finnish agriculture reacting to modern pressures?
Like many other countries, farm size has increased significantly. This means there are less farming customers now. On the other hand, the role of the agricultural contractor has increased and this has helped boost demand for larger, higher capacity machinery and other equipment. I see our farmers presently combining their resources more to give advantages and economies of scale. The sharing of tasks between farms according to available resources and competences is making many units much more competitive in the present business atmosphere.
And your view of the future in agribusiness management and marketing?
Aided by modern networking and product exhibitions, the facilities offered by international organisations such as the DLG, companies are increasingly specialised in meeting the digitization demands of the sector in technology and marketing. Key factors for our success in the next years will be a willingness to embrace globalisation and to remain flexible in meeting market demands.