Eskimo: Responsibility speaks to customers and employees

Text: Kreetta Haaslahti, Photos: Julia Hannula

For Finns, the Eskimo brand is almost synonymous with a practical kitchen. That is how much easier Eskimo products, from plastic wrap to foil and baking parchment and coffee filters, make food preparation. For some it may come as a surprise that many of these products continue to be produced in Lappi in the town of Rauma. And responsibility is a feature that characterises their production process.

The registered trademark Eskimo has been in use since the 1960s. The roots of the company go to Kauttua in Eura and the year 1937, to the establishment of the company Euran Paperi. Today, after several phases and a number of business deals, the company is managed by Clas and Peter Fredman. They continue the work of their father, Christian Fredman, but in bold, reformative style. They are the face of the company, but since 2016 they have also given it their name, as that was when the Fredman Group was founded together with the two subsidiaries, Fredman Professional Kitchen Oy and Fredman Operations Oy. The latter is the home of good old Eskimo products.

Popular employer understands its responsibilities

Around 60 people are employed at the production facility in the Lappi area in Rauma at the moment. One of them is Marju Vroman, who came to Lappi some 18 months ago via Lappeenranta, New York and Turku. By doing that, the M.Sc. (Engineering) swapped the academia and mineral enrichment technologies for matters concerning quality and environment.
“Time has gone really quickly. So many changes have taken place here. When I came to the company, the Eskimo brand went through a complete facelift. Next, the company reformation into Fredman Group was on the agenda. People are so full of energy and enthusiasm for their work that it is very inspiring to be a part of all this,” says Vroman, HSEQ Manager at Fredman Operations.

Marju Vroman © Julia Hannula

Marju Vroman has made herself at home at Fredman Group and with corporate responsibility matters.

She has learnt to understand corporate responsibility through her work. In a family business, responsibility has a major role in everyday operations, and it really feels that a quarter refers to a quarter of a century rather than three months. One example where this is reflected is long careers.
“This year, a lady whose daughter still works for us, retired.

"If things had not been conducted in a sound, responsible manner, people would not want to come and work for us.”

Fredman Operations, better known as Eskimo, is a well-known and popular employer in the region.
“If things had not been conducted in a sound, responsible manner, people would not want to come and work for us,” Vroman says.

Comprehensive responsibility

Corporate responsibility is often divided into three categories: social, financial and environmental responsibility.
“I do not think of responsibility in terms of categories, but as one. But if you think of the traditional division, social responsibility is reflected with us in the occupational health care services that we offer to a far wider extent than the legal minimum requirement.”

Pakkauskoneella Carita-siivousliinoja © Julia Hannula

Nonwoven fabric from Satakunta is processed into cleaning wipes in Lappi. Pekka Pullinen operates the packing machine.

There are investments in employee training.
“This year, all employees have been given the Occupational safety card training.

In early next year, it is time for the Hygiene passport training.
“Although we do not make food, we manufacture packages that are used in connection to food products. I am sure employees will find the topic of interest and it will bring about deeper expertise and more motivation.”

Eskimo-leivinpaperipakkauksia © Julia Hannula

Eskimo baking parchment packages are ready to leave the factory for stores. Jari Viitamaa (left) and Alex Peltola busy packing.

It is better to be proactive than left behind

In addition to ownership, responsibility is accelerated by the growing consumer awareness and interest.
“Customers will continue to demand more and more from companies. We will rather invest in these things in advance than try to get up-to-date when we have to.”

Only a couple of hundred kilograms of waste are taken to the landfill from the factory annually.

Environmental matters are a great example of proactive attitude and they have always been extremely well managed at the Lappi factory. The recycling rate has stood at 95% for several years now. Only a couple of hundred kilograms of waste are taken to the landfill from the factory annually.
“The Waste Act sets forth the requirement of 50 per cent recycling rate in five years’ time, so we are significantly ahead of that goal. There is one container for household waste at the maintenance department workshop. Everything else is recycled.”

Kierrätysvaunuja © Julia Hannula

A cluster of waste containers stands in the hallways of the production facility in Lappi.

In addition to environmental viewpoints, financial ones motivate recycling.
“The materials we use are extremely pure so they are naturally valuable when sold for reuse.”

The changes in requirements put forward by legislation are monitored by an external legal counsel. All legislation relevant to the industry and the business operations are updated on an online database and if there are any upcoming changes, a notification will appear on the database.
“All we have to do is go through the amendments and react to them. A good example of this is the Equality plan that focuses on non-discrimination and pays attention to minorities. It will be obligatory in Finland for all companies employing over 30 people from the beginning of next year. We have had one for over six months now.”

Kolmioleipäpakkauksia © Julia Hannula

Cardboard preforms are folded into sandwich packages one corner at a time. Teijo Ojala operates the machine with expertise.

Fredman Group has made a commitment to the Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development.

Commitment to sustainable development

The Fredman Group has taken part in the Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development since 2016. Organisations, companies and individuals can submit commitments for measures and ideas relevant to sustainable development on the websiteSitoumus2050.fi. This is a Finnish scheme that gives a completely new dimension to the work for sustainable development at a national level. The commitment is organised by The Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development.
“We have never completed traditional corporate responsibility reports, so we thought we would make this commitment as comprehensive as possible. At the same time, it is a more modern way of reporting our responsibility scheme.

The indicators of the Society’s Commitment are closely monitored and the goal is that every year each of the companies that have submitted the commitment will come in to report on progress and the next steps they plan to take regarding sustainability.
“Marja Innanen from the Prime Minister’s Office gave an introduction of this model at the UN Secretariat in New York City in the summer of 2016, and the commitment is rapidly on its way to international expansion.”

Eskimo staff at work

Kirsi Sillanpää is a second-generation Fredman employee; her mother used to work at the Lappi production facility. Kirsi joined the company after being on maternity leave, in the late 1990s, when someone at work inquired from Kirsi’s mother what Kirsi was up to. When it turned out she did not have a job, one was found for her at Eskimo. Kirsi has been involved in many types of tasks at the company. The one she found most appealing was, perhaps, working in the factory shop.

“But I do like working in production, too. No two days are alike here,” the happy lady explains about her tasks at one of the 20 production lines at the facility, where dozens of different product items are made.

Kirsi Sillanpää © Julia Hannula

Kirsi Sillanpää is a second-generation Fredman employee.

At the factory shop, we are greeted by the smiling Maarit Koivukoski and Ida Wibom. Koivukoski, too, has a long experience of working at Fredman. She started work in the early 2000s.

Maarit Koivukoski © Julia Hannula

Maarit Koivukoski ready to help customers at the factory shop.

She likes the versatility of the days at the factory shop. Customers are drawn to the shop by the cheaper prices and especially the factory seconds not available anywhere else.

“We have both individual customers and tourist buses coming in. Many pop in while paying a family visit in the Rauma region. We have a couple from Lahti who are regular customers at the Eskimo factory shop,” Koivukoski explains.

Ida Wibom © Julia Hannula

Cheerful Ida Wibom at the register at the factory shop.

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