Living and learning through the changes for 50 years

Laura Aronen

On June 5, 2022, Erkki Liikaluoma achieved 50 years as a Rautean. Now, on the edge of retirement, Erkki shared his journey with us.

In 1972, Erkki Liikaluoma, a 16-year-old vocational school student from Nastola, together with his schoolmate Rauno "Rauski" Tammelin, rushed to the teacher's office and announced that they would be out of school tomorrow. The reason was that they were going to visit the local companies and look for a job. Fate must have had its hands in the picture as the teacher had worked at Raute's Lahti location as a Foreman in the machining workshop. He asked the boys if they had thought about Raute? "As long as we go through the companies, it might come up," said the young man Liikaluoma. The teacher asked the boys to come along, called Raute, and announced that two boys will come tomorrow to check-in. He also gave his recommendation.

"Well, there was no need to visit other places," says Erkki and continues: "Many people from our class went to work for Raute. Only me and Rauski started in Nastola. The production premises were quite a bit smaller back then. Sometime in the 60s, the activity had started here in Nastola. Mikkola's sawmill was here earlier. At that time, there were no such large production halls, research center, or office, let alone canteen. You had to have your lunch with you."

Since day one, Erkki has worked at Raute with the title of Machine Assembler.

"At that time, there were no written employment contracts, i.e. only a verbal contract was made. We were asked what kind of work we want to do and when we come to work. According to that, I have done and gone for 50 years," says Erkki.

Work in the old days was flexible and work was done where there was work. Sometimes the work took Erkki to the office in Lahti, where a year could pass, even though the main place of work was in Nastola. In addition to the tasks of a machine assembler, sometimes Erkki had to work as a repairman if there were no tasks in his own field. Erkki has also been involved in, among other things, fixing the lifting doors of the press hall and the wastewater pump.

Erkki works as part of the so-called Press Group, which means that the tasks are mainly related to plywood press technology assembly tasks.

"As I remember, the first press was made sometime around 1973-1974. Of course, technology has moved on in 50 years, but the principle is still the same. There is no point in changing the working concept."

Although press technology has not changed much, new interesting technology has also appeared, such as veneer patching lines and panel repairing technologies. The tools, on the other hand, have developed significantly, fortunately.

"In the old days, there were no battery-driven machines, screw machines, or nail guns, for example. The tools were just a hammer and nails. Then we tapped for days, right up to the packaging."

Erkki's long working career at Raute has been affected especially by a good work team and atmosphere.

"At Raute, the spirit of the workgroup is good. If you need help, you will get it. Sometimes in the old days, the older top men didn't give much advice to the young boys. I had to manage myself. Nowadays, if necessary, we think with a larger group if someone can't figure something out themselves.

During the 50 years, people have changed over the years. People have come and gone. From these years, I will definitely carry with me my colleagues, some of whom have developed into close friends and family acquaintances."

The fact that Erkki's son, Mika, also works for Raute also tells something about Raute as an employer. The summer work period kicked off Mika’s working career. Erkki emphasizes Raute's importance as a local employer.

"There is no other employer like this in the Lahti region. Raute has always been an employer close by. I've also walked here along the forest paths in the old days."

On the eve of retirement, Erkki takes a calm approach to the matter.

"At first we look and wonder. Let's get used to the new everyday life. In the past, I used to do all kinds of sports: badminton, skiing, swimming, ice hockey, and soccer... Nowadays, back and knee problems limit me."

We wish Erkki relaxing retirement days and thank you for the many years and memories.