JR-Tools, the biggest manufacturer and reseller of special metal cutting tools for metal industry in Finland, celebrates its 50th anniversary. The company was founded in Muurame in 1973 and is nowadays located in Tikkakoski, Jyväskylä. JR-Tools has been on a strong growth-path in the past few years. The company wants to be a pioneer in the Finnish tooling industry and a trustworthy partner for all Finnish machine shops.
JR-Tools is celebrating the company’s 50th anniversary this year. The company has been growing rapidly in the past few years, and its turnover has increased by over 10% every year in the past five years. “We estimate that our turnover will be around 3.6 million euros in 2023. That would be a 20% increase compared to last year”, says CEO of JR-Tools Pasi Rönn.
The company’s name refers to its founder Jaakko Rajakallio who founded the company in 1973. The business concept was built around manufacturing and reconditioning of metal cutting tools. After five decades, this remains the foundation of the company. Nowadays, the company’s operations have three cornerstones: manufacturing and sales of new metal cutting tools, tool reconditioning services and resale.
From Muurame to historic premises in Tikkakoski
Metal industry in Tikkakoski has a history of 130 years. Between 1997–2004, JR-Tools was a part of Tikka group. In 2002, JR-Tools decided to move to Tikkakoski where the other companies of the group were located. The company moved into the historic premises of a former rifle factory. The new facilities made it possible to have the company’s PVD coating units under the same roof with the rest of the production. “PVD coating became a part of the operations when we acquired Suomen Plasmatekniikka in mid 1990’s. The move allowed us to bring all operations into one place”, says Rönn.
Having their own PVD coating units is a significant factor for the company’s competitiveness. “PVD coating makes both new and reconditioned metal cutting tools function better. It is a big advantage that we are able to do the PVD coating in our own facilities. It minimises extra delays”, says JR-Tools Sales Director Veli-Matti Uusitalo.
The resale business was added to the company’s repertoire in 2006 when Teho-Tools Oy, founded by Pentti Törri, was acquired by JR-Tools. “Teho-Tools was merged with JR-Tools in 2010, and later we decided to stop using the name Teho-Tools and do the all resale business under JR-Tools. The legacy of Teho-Tools is remains a big part of JR-Tools”, tells Uusitalo.
Digitalisation as a game changer
Both Rönn and Uusitalo have a long history with JR-Tools. Ten years ago, they also became partners of the company. “We have had an entrepreneurial mindset from the start and free rein in terms of managing the company. It has been a positive thing for us”, says Rönn.
During these five decades, the world has changed significantly and it has also affected JR-Tools. “Digitalisation has made the world smaller, which means that in sales we are no longer tied to a certain place or time. The project cycles also seem to be shorter and that is why customers are often in a hurry. Due to this, predicting the future may be difficult”, says Uusitalo.
The number of machine shops in Finland is so high that for a company like JR-Tools, the possibilities for growth are nearly endless. The company sees continuous development as a key factor in surviving the inevitable market changes. “Our whole personnel is taking part in LEAN training to improve our processes and work well-being. Every employee has a chance to develop their own work together with others”, tells Rönn.
Securing Finnish work
The lack of competent work force is a big theme in the Finnish metal industry. When it comes to recruitment, the situation is unique for JR-Tools since there is no degree for tool grinding in Finland. However, a CNC Machinist will usually have the basic skills that are required for becoming a CNC Grinder. “Many of our CNC Grinders have a CNC Machinist degree, but we also have employees with completely different educational backgrounds”, tells Rönn. “When you work in tool grinding, you get to work with modern technology and develop your skills as much as you want”, adds Uusitalo. The pictures we see in the media don’t always reflect the reality in today’s metal industry. Work is done in clean facilities and in good working conditions. “Even though the production works in shifts, we want to be flexible with working hours”, says Rönn.
The company’s special metal cutting tools and tool reconditioning service have been awarded the Key Flag Symbol as a sign of Finnish work. The symbol recognises that the product has been manufactured, or the service has been produced, in Finland. “By buying special metal cutting tools or the tool reconditioning service from us, the customer knows that they are also supporting Finnish work. Sustainability and securing the domestic production are big trends at the moment and the world situation only emphasises them. Our industry is no exception”, states Uusitalo. “When it comes to metal cutting tools, we want to be a trustworthy partner for all Finnish machine shops. This includes both tools and tool reconditioning services but also tool and process design. Ideally, we are able to help the customer to improve their processes and save time”, tells Rönn.
Pioneering and continuous development
In May, JR-Tools strengthened its capacity in drill reconditioning with a new Schneeberger Aries NGP+ CNC tool grinding machine. “Having continuous growth and certain big customers in drill reconditioning meant that we had to invest in a new tool grinding machine for this department”, says Uusitalo. “Due to the company’s growth and the age of our existing machinery, our investment plan includes a minimum of one new machine per year”, tells Rönn.
The company has also purchased a Famup MCX 600 machining centre this spring. The machine will enable tool testing using the customer’s own material. “With this machine, we will have the opportunity to test our tools in our own facilities and observe how different geometries and PVD coatings affect the tool”, tells Uusitalo.
In addition to machine investments, JR-Tools is also focusing on other new technologies. “We are constantly looking for new ways to implement AI in our production. We have taken part in the aiADDVA project hosted by The Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences. The goal of the project for us was to explore ways to recognise and sort tools with the help of computer vision”, tells Rönn. “We aim for continuous development and want to stay on top of the Finnish tooling market. We want to be pioneers in the business. We believe that tracking market signals and the continuous improvement of our processes will help us succeed also in the next 50 years”, states Uusitalo.
CEO Pasi Rönn
+358 (0)50 469 7921
Sales Director Veli-Matti Uusitalo
+358 (0)40 835 8075
JR-Tools Ltd is a manufacturer of special metal cutting tools for metal industry. The company is located in Tikkakoski, Central Finland. Founded in 1973, JR-Tools Ltd is the largest and most versatile company in its field in Finland, and the company’s machinery enables manufacturing, service and PVD coating of special HSS and carbide tools. JR-Tools Ltd is also an importer and reseller of gear cutting tools. http://www.jrtools.fi/en/