Kewatec Aluboat

PEOPLE OF KEWATEC – JUHO PAANANEN

Martti Vaahtoranta, 26.10.2020

A maker or an artist?

Fitting work with a creative twist

“Although I am officially a welder who does fitting too, my job has always included designing. Not everything can be drawn beforehand. There are problems that can be only solved on the spot. For example, when a switchboard needs to be built out of thin sheet metal for the sake of saving a boat’s weight, it must be worked on by bending and piercing for it to be durable.”

Coming up with these kinds of decisions and executing them is common in Juho Paananen’s job at Kewatec’s equipment halls in Lahdenperä. “I enjoy designing. It helps my mind remain alert. That and the surrounding hassle. There is not always time to wait for another person to design some component or how a fitting is to be done. One has to do it themselves.”

Juho still hopes that functional production designs would be documented so that they would be visible in the drawings when they are repeated. One would not have to recall how a problem was solved previously. Although it works out fine that way too.

From Kokkola to Pietarsaari and half-way back

Juho Paananen was born in Kokkola but he has lived in Pietarsaari for about thirty years already. He worked there before coming to Kewatec, for example in manufacturing garage doors for seven years. He also manufactured other steel structures.

Juho is a certified carpenter, machinist and a welder. He acquired a truck driving permit while in the army. A versatile educational background provides insight and competence to a versatile job, which includes many other things besides welding.

Juho started to work at Kewatec in 2011. And thankfully the tug of war between Kokkola and Pietarsaari is not entirely true, after all. It does not matter that Juho lives on Pietarsaari’s side of the border, though he gets teased about it when in Kokkola. However, plenty of people who work for Kewatec are from the commuter belt. And it is just friendly banter.

An automated home

Juho’s family includes a spouse, who works as a team leader in a company that produces work lights, and a teenage son. Juho’s wife works in two shifts and Juho goes to work in the neighboring town.

Bringing together the challenges of everyday life, family and work is not always easy. Technology can make it easier, however.

A designer is still a designer at home. Although Juho does cross-country biking as a hobby when he has the time, he still appears to be more invested in a project of his, which is a leisure time hobby as well as a help in everyday life. That is, Juho has installed an extensive surveillance system on their house, one that he can monitor from distance. By using a smartphone as a remote control, he can operate the domestic appliances and follow their energy consumption. He can also observe from distance if someone is moving around in the house.

Network of people inside the company

“I applied for a job at Kewatec, because I wanted to do something new. My wishes have come true: I have, for the past years, built boat-cabins, welded hulls, equipped boats, done bolt work and hauled boats – and, like I said, I have also designed all sorts of things.”, Juho says describing what his career so far has been like at Lahdeperä’s industrial site.

“I like the versatility of my job and also the fact that currently we are able to work with our ´own boat´. We do not need to constantly switch from one boat to another. On the other hand we are a network of workers, within which we are all co-dependent. For example welding and electrical installations cannot be done without relating them to one another.”

Developing a bond to the sea through work

Juho Paananen belongs to the group of residents in Kokkola who have not developed a bond to the sea or boats in their childhood. However, his work has helped him to create that bond, inevitably so.

How could it be any other way, when the workplace is located right by the sea and some work is done in boats that rest in the dock, in Kewatec’s own marina? The workplace literally floats and once in a while moves a bit underneath one’s feet. The noises of work do not always succeed in concealing the lapping sound of the waves hitting against the aluminum surfaces. The glitter of the sunlight on the water dazzles the eyes of a person stepping onto the deck.

In addition to fitting, Juho has participated in testing the finished boats. In doing that, he has had the chance to sail away from the coast, towards the open sea. This is a part of the everyday life of Kewatec’s workers, something that makes the daily life feel more festive.

The rhythm of welding 

Despite all his other competencies, welding seems to come up most strongly when conversing with Juho. It is quite similar to a situation in which one discusses, as an outsider, with a professional instrumental musician. We can now sense what might lie behind the perfect seam and the perfect musical performance.

“When welding, one needs to have a sense of rhythm”, says Juho as he describes the beat of welding seams.

It might be so that welding and boat building overall are jobs done by not only makers but also artists. And apparently Juho Paananen is one of them.