Specializing in environmentally friendly heating and cooling solutions for properties, Gebwell Ltd. runs a business that has been driven by a strong demand for its products and by the movement of energy issues from the background into the spotlight of debate and high media coverage.
Founded in 2006, Gebwell manufactures district heating substations, ground-source heat pumps and various types of accumulators for heating and cooling systems. The company started out marketing and selling heat pumps and started manufacturing heat pumps in 2007 in the garage of majority owner Timo Hulkkonen. In the following year, production operations were expanded to include the manufacture of district heating substations. Today, Gebwell has a total of 20,000 square metres of production area in four separate facilities in Leppävirta, as well as subsidiaries in Poland and Sweden.
“Our product portfolio has continued to grow, and we have done very well in the heating and cooling market,” says Gebwell’s Managing Director Janne Rahunen.
The company believes that heat pumps will be the main form of heating in the future. They will replace combustion-based technologies and reduce the carbon footprint. Gebwell took a technological leap forward in 2018 by bringing the first IoT solutions for heat pumps to the market. Gebwell Smart enables the remote monitoring and control of heat pumps through a cloud service.
Gebwell manufactures heat pumps, district heating substations and hot water heaters for properties of all sizes, from individual houses to heavy-duty solutions for properties. Gebwell’s spin-off subsidiary also manufactures fire extinguishing equipment under the Pivaset brand. All the products in the portfolio come with lifecycle services, i.e. maintenance and after-sales services.
Rahunen believes that the company’s success is based on three pillars: listening to the customers and serving them, looking after the personnel, and the successful management of finances, which has enabled investments in operations. If these elements are kept in balance, the business is guaranteed to move forward.
“Obviously our success is also driven by the fact that people want to give up combustion technologies and find alternative solutions for heating and cooling,” says Rahunen.
In the future, market expectations will favour more environmentally friendly refrigerants, which will transform the entire heat pump industry. This will also mean some changes for Gebwell and a lot of work within the company so that the products will be ready for what the future of the industry will look like 2–3 years from now.
In 2020, Gebwell and its partners won the distinguished Next Generation Heat Pump award of the European Heat Pump Association with their energy recycling systems for commercial properties. The systems recover the waste heat of commercial properties and utilize it for heating the properties, cutting heating costs and CO2 emissions significantly.
“It was great to receive this external recognition, but the best feedback on what we do comes from our customer interface when we’re able to provide systems and solutions for them,” says Rahunen.
The company has had its sights set on the international market ever since its beginning. Hulkkonen, the founder of Gebwell, had a long history of working with district heating substations through LPM Group, which he sold to the international Danfoss in the early 2000s. LPM Group had operations in Poland, and through these existing contacts it felt only natural for Gebwell to also expand into the Polish market. Sweden and Norway, on the other hand, are similar to Finland in terms of their heating technologies, making them natural choices for export destination countries. Gebwell is also involved in projects around the world.
Rahunen finds it natural that running a business presents daily challenges. You simply need to address them and prepare for them. Success in business requires courage, perseverance and inventiveness. If you feel like you are not making progress with something, you should come up with new approaches and try them.
“You need to be willing to work hard to succeed, be prepared to accept failures and aim high, and you will experience moments of success as well. No matter what industry you’re in, you will face competition – this means you’ll need to put in more effort than your competitors. It’s not about your competence or intelligence, but it all comes down to having the strength to carry on and being alert to opportunities. They will come, and you’ll need to be able to grab them,” says Rahunen, summing up his thoughts.
Gebwell’s Managing Director Janne Rahunen wishes that the region of North Savo had more expertise in refrigerants and cooling units, but otherwise he says the level of competence in the region is good and there are many hard-working, enterprising people out there.
“The so-called human resource is quite impressive. People are willing to work hard and pursue positive environmental goals.”
According to Rahunen, Leppävirta along national road 5 is a good location for companies as it provides an optimal place for feeding growth centres.
Text: Minna Akiola