It was a Saturday afternoon during the fall of 1952. A driver by the name of Birger Björkqvist (deceased) visited us, sat down on the sofa, and started discussing. He started by saying that he came here with his intention to sell us a truck.
Upper picture, from the left: Founders Ingvald and Harry Tallqvist, Harry's son Mikael Tallqvist
In his opinion, we had a lot of work-worthy men (five at the time). That day the discussion was mostly casual but he returned a few days later. My dad Verner also thought that we should come up with something. We were two families, one aunt and one uncle who had to live from the farm. A new discussion but no deal.
Another two days passed until Björkqvist came back yet another time. He was stubborn and wanted to sell. That Saturday we shook hands and became truck owners.
Indeed, now we were owners of a 1940 Ford with no license, and of course, we had to get a license as soon as possible. I took a month-long course at Andersson’s shop, where driving school was held those days. During the course, I thought that the car should be tested. I went to the harvest shed, turned the engine and it fired up immediately. So far so good but when I had to back the car up I turned too quickly, resulting in a dented fender when it hit the doorpost. I remember my eyes tearing up, what would father and the uncles say? Everything got sorted out but it wasn’t fun.
When I got my driver’s license I went to visit my sister three times in Isokylä, Kokkola. Every time I had to tow the car because it wouldn’t start. That was not fun either. At folks at home started to wonder that we’ve bought ourselves a piece of junk. And then there were, of course, the rest of the village who saw when we came back home, towing the car.
Time passed and we needed to get some driving done. We started to transport sand to Öja and Pietarsaari. We started in the morning by loading the truck at the sandpit. We worked with shovels and iron bars, we even might’ve used the occasional dynamite. The whole day it took, to load three cubic meters of sand loaded on to the Ford. The payload had to be delivered by four o’clock in the afternoon. That day the road to Öja was very long for me.
The professional drivers of that day weren’t that impressed with what I was doing. After all, I was driving from our very own sandpit without any kind of formal permit. When I finally reached the destination in Öja, the car started to heat up. The road was narrow and the car needed to be turned around. When I finally got to the unload site I got stuck in the sand. It was the worst that could happen since I blocked the road for all the other professional drivers, which also delivered to that site. A driver from the neighboring village drove around me, leaving me in a cloud of sand. Whatever could come of this, I wondered.
Six o’clock in the evening I was back at the homestead in Kvikant. I went straight to bed to gather strength for the next day since we needed to start again at seven o’clock in the morning. All the loads were made by hand and shovel.
Now almost thirty-three years have passed, many days of woe but also many of joy. I would argue that the first day was the hardest of them all.
If someday, thirty-three years ago, when we sat and discussed the truck deal with Birger Björkqvist, someone would have said that we’d be chosen for Entrepreneur of the Year in Kokkola it would’ve been, for me, an impossible thought. But so have many other started, small in scale; starting up and evolving is a long road. It has its good sides. A much better possibility to see the development and demand in the market. It has been a constant rollercoaster, and that it seems to be in the future as well.
Lastly, I would like to say, that those first years when we loaded the trucks by hand every man on the farm helped when they had the time. The farm took a lot of time and effort. I praise my father and my uncles who have been there for me. In return, we bought some machinery for the farm to help with the work. I would dare to say that unless Mr. Björkqvist of Öja wouldn’t have been as stubborn as he was, we would be solely living off the farm today. Both jobs could still be developed further, side by side.
I wish that entrepreneurship will be supported by the town also in the future. I believe that this, our whole society would benefit from it.
-Harry Tallqvist, when chosen as Entrepreneur of the Year in Kokkola 1985