Keppo 1954-1986


1950s

 

The activities of Oy Keppo Ab were completely unlike the rest of Emil Höglund’s business operations. The only real point of contact was silviculture and the woodlands that came along with Keppo manor house.

 

Around this period the United States was the leading mink farming country. To study American breeding methods Emil set off on a study tour of the States in autumn 1946, establishing good contacts with America’s leading fur farmers. He also bought some breeding animals in America. Later, Keppo in turn sold breeding stock to farmers in the USA, thanks to Emil’s good contacts.

 

The day-to-day management of Keppo was in the hands of Jukka Tidström, who was also responsible for breeding programmes and improvements in feed production and fur farming technology, jointly with the farm managers and foremen. The machines were made by the Petsmo sawmill workshop, which eventually became the leading Finnish manufacturer of such equipment.

 

1960s

 

Large sums of capital were invested in mink farming in the 1960s. But the company also acquired businesses in other fields, and Keppo increasingly became a multi-sector enterprise with a more industrial profile.

 

Kimo Bruk, which goes right back to 1703, found ­itself in financial difficulties in the early 1960s and was taken over by Keppo in 1962. The original ironworks was closed down in the late 19th century, and now the sawmill, too, stopped working. At the same time a large fur farm was set up. Local electricity distribution continued to be part of ­operations, however.

 

The same year the abrasives factory Mirka moved from Pitäjänmäki to Jeppo. Almost by chance Keppo found itself a shareholder in this company, and soon acquired the majority holding. By hindsight, this must be seen as a lucky chance as KWH Mirka is now one of the mainstays of the KWH Group.

 

When a fur farm was set up in Ireland in 1964, on the other hand, it was the outcome of long-term planning. Because mink production was expanding rapidly in Finland in the early 1960s, there was a potential shortage of animal feed. Ireland was considered a likely source of raw material.

 

In 1965, to safeguard its feed supply, Keppo invested in a refrigeration ship which was also needed for depreciation purposes. The M/S Keppo was delivered in August 1966 and the company owned her up to 1975.

 

One of Emil Höglund’s dreams came true in 1964, when the Keppo farms produced over 100,000 mink pelts: this made Keppo the biggest in the world.

 

In 1966, Oravais Klädesfabrik Ab, which was ­founded in 1885 to continue the operations of Oravais Masugn, founded in 1736, was offered to Emil Höglund. Though the textile business was already encountering marketing problems, the deal went through. The firm’s net worth was great, because its assets included 700 hectares of forest in an area in which Keppo and Kimo already owned some 2,000 hectares. It was also possible to set up a large fur farm on its land.

 

1970s -

 

By the 1970s Keppo had become a company which ­relied on industry for about half its turnover. Profits from fur farming were used to expand and to spread risks. The company had appreciable assets, for as well as forest it had a large holding in Oy Wilh. Schauman Ab.

 

In 1973, the year in which Emil Höglund died, the company’s five mink farms produced about 320,000 pelts, which was 10% of total Finnish production and a good 2% of world output of mink pelts. Some 10,000 fox pelts were produced in Oravais. Jukka Tidström died in 1975 and thus the company lost both its founders.

 

The second generation assumed the mantle of management. Henrik Höglund was appointed the new Managing Director of the Keppo Group in 1975.

 

At the end of the 1970s the mink farms were still doing well and the extension of Mirka could continue: the company invested in abrasives for industrial use. Turnover rose fivefold, to FIM 27 million, between 1975 and 1980, and in 1985 stood at FIM 52 million, 70% for export.

Oravais Textil was totally restructured. Woollen cloth making was closed down in 1977 as unprofitable and yarn manufacture in 1979. Electricity distribution was sold to Ab Albäck Oy in 1979.

 

The same year the fur division acquired new territory, when it began to sell feed to small fur farmers nearby. Sales rose rapidly, so Monäs Frys Ab was acquired in 1982 to meet the need for capacity and to increase the market share. The company’s fur farms and feed kitchen passed into ­Keppo’s hands. Output of fox pelts more than doubled and Keppo became the world’s biggest producer of this item. At peak times, the company produced about 480,000 mink pelts and about 130,000 fox pelts.

 

In 1979 Keppo acquired a majority holding in the ­ Vaasa company Oy Litoset Ab, adding printing to the Group’s ­business range. The same year, fur farming machinery manu­facture in Petsmo was sold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mirka-kollaasi 

KWH Mirka: from product focus to customer focus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ms Keppo 

 

A refrigerated vessel in 1966, the M/S Keppo.