History

Herman August Renfors

The Renforsin Ranta business park has been named after Herman August Renfors, an all-round industrial baron once active in Kajaani, Finland. The business park is located on the banks of the same river where the factories owned by Renfors stood until 1966.

Herman August Renfors (1849–1928) was an all-around business man, a manufacturer and town councillor who spent much of his life in Kajaani. When Renfors was five years old, his widowed mother moved to Kajaani with Herman and his three siblings. Renfors's father was a sea captain who died in a shipwreck.

In his twenties, Renfors established a lure-manufacturing business in Kajaani. In 1876, he went on to found a grindery that manufactured items such as jewellery and buttons. He expanded his business to fur products in 1880, and in 1891 he established a branch store in central Helsinki that specialised in trading sport fishing equipment. Today, items of Renfors fishing equipment are coveted collectibles.

On 12 May 2007, a memorial commemorating Renfors was unveiled in Kajaani by a local artist and local entrepreneurs.

Tihisenniemi

Over time, Tihisenniemi came to be synonymous with the local paper mill.

Tihisenniemi is a small headland located on the lower course of the Kajaani river. In spring 1907, Kajaanin Puutavara Osakeyhtiö established a sawmill in the Tihisenniemi industrial area by the Kajaani river. Over the next one hundred years, this sawmill and the surrounding area developed into the UPM-Kymmene Kajaani mill site.

Before these industrial developments, Tihisenniemi only referred to the headland located next to the Peurapäänlahti bay. Later on, the bay was filled with land to expand the industrial area and the name Tihisenniemi began to refer to the entire Kajaani mill site owned by UPM-Kymmene Corporation.

The photograph shows Tihisenniemi in the late 19th century. Copy of a photograph by Pekka Agarth.

Kajaani Ltd

Kajaani Ltd was an industrial operator in Tihisenniemi from 1907 to 1989. After this, the operations were first taken over by United Paper Mills and later by UPM.

Kajaani Ltd manufactured paper, sawn timber and pulp in Tihisenniemi by the Kajaani river. The constitutive meeting of the company was held on 9 March 1907 in Riihimäki. At first, the name of the company was Kajaanin Puutavara Osakeyhtiö. The principal shareholders of the company were Kalle Välimaa and brothers Hjalmar Gabriel Paloheimo, Karl Alfred Paloheimo and Paavo Paloheimo. The other shareholders were August Annila from Ähtäri and Ivan Sergejeff, a merchant based in Kajaani. The name of the company was changed to Kajaani Ltd in 1945.

The principal owners of Kajaani Ltd, the Kansallis-Osake-Pankki bank and the insurance company Pohjola, decided to merge Kajaani Oy into United Paper Mills in 1989. This made United Paper Mills the third largest forest company in Finland after Kymmene Oy and Enso-Gutzeit Oy. In 1996, Kymmene and United Paper Mills were merged into the UPM-Kymmene Group. The turnover in Kajaani Ltd's last business year (1988) was approximately 1.5 billion Finnish markka (approx. € 250 million).

Kajaani was seen as a good location for wood processing due to the availability of softwood forests, water power and a good railway connection. The first production plant to be established was a sawmill that was taken into use in 1907. The first paper machine (PM1) was introduced in 1919 and the woodworking plant started operations in 1924. Over the years, Kajaani Ltd also manufactured bricks, joinery products, spirit, chlorine and mill products and owned a farm. Ore finding was also among the company's activities.

An aerial photograph of the mill site taken in 1932. Copy of a photograph by Pekka Agarth.

From paper mill to business park — a historic change

The decision to establish a business park on the premises of the Kajaani paper mill was made immediately after the decision to close the mill had been published.

When UPM announced that it was closing down the Kajaani mill in September 2008, it also communicated that it was planning a new business park on the mill premises. The idea was to turn the area into a modern and functional environment for a number of different businesses.

It was soon decided that using the name of the former paper mill or the name Tihisenniemi was not an option and that the park needed a distinctive image and brand. A local advertising agency came up with the name Renforsin Ranta ("Renfors riverbank") and a logo inspired by the river landscape. Historical events support the new name, since fishing equipment manufacturer Herman Renfors's factories were once located on the same riverbanks. Renfors had a reputation of being an inspiring personality who could think outside the box. The aim has been to apply the same approach to building the new business park.

Since it was easier to market the paper mill facilities without the machinery, piping and tanks, the process equipment started to be disassembled immediately. Almost all of this disassembly work has now been completed. All mobile equipment and a large number of individual devices, such as engines, conveyors and machine parts have been sold to new owners. Despite these efforts, a huge amount of disassembly waste has been produced, including approximately 25,000 tonnes of various metals that have been sold for further processing.

The disassembly work has been noisy, dirty and even dangerous — there have been several small incipient fires on the premises. However, the positive aspect of these fires is that evacuation drills have now been performed in actual emergency conditions. The business park's safety and emergency operations have improved and the local rescue department has had several opportunities to learn more about the special characteristics of the area.

After the disassembly, it was time to begin the construction work. Some of the office spaces only needed a new coat of paint. Once the new company logos were on the doors, the facilities were ready for use. In most cases, however, the facilities required major renovations before the new businesses could move in. The paper packing area has been turned into offices, the paper machine room into a workshop, the central warehouse into a laundry, the paper warehouse into a datacenter, the debarking plant into a bioethanol plant, and the sludge press plant into a measuring instrument laboratory. Thousands of square metres of new office space has also been constructed where tanks used to be. So far, around half of the facilities have been renovated and more than 35 businesses now operate on the premises. The majority of these businesses are completely new to the area but some of the companies, such as the sawmill that is now part of the Pölkky Group and the power plant owned by Kainuun Voima, have been operating in the area for some time.

In addition to the disassembly and construction work performed at Renforsin Ranta, huge efforts have been made to improve the infrastructure and the surrounding environment. The needs of a business park with different kinds of operators are quite different to those of a paper mill. For instance, the footpaths have been redesigned and reconstructed and new passageways, pedestrian underpasses and gates have been added. Parking capacity has also been increased and an area-wide signage system has been designed and implemented in order to direct traffic in the area. All of the buildings that are in use have also been equipped with large illuminated company names so that it is to find the correct company, even in the dark. Traffic safety has also been taken into account when developing the area: Roads have been improved, traffic and warning signs have been added and the railway level crossing has been equipped with boom gates. The park and forest areas surrounding the Renforsin Ranta business park have also been tidied up and they are now included in the annual maintenance plan for the area.

The photograph shows papermaking equipment being disassembled. Photograph: Pekka Agarth

The Renforsin Ranta business park today

The businesses located in the Renforsin Ranta business park are significant employers in the Kainuu region

The Renforsin Ranta business park is currently home to over 35 businesses operating in different fields. The busy area is constantly being developed and the services the businesses can offer each other bring growth and vitality to the park. The business park houses large-scale industrial projects and companies involved in international business, and the modern infrastructure of the area meets the individual needs of each business.

Photograph: Kajaanipiste 365 — valoo, kuvaa, runoo, haloo! — project 2013–2016 Photographer: Ia Samoil