Business Kuopio


Lasilinkki knows the soul of glass


A Kuopio-based pioneer in the glass industry, Lasilinkki celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. The company has never been afraid of challenges or changes, not even in tough times.

CEO of Lasilinkki, entrepreneur Essi Sundman is a third-generation owner of the family company. Her grandfather worked in the industry back in the 1950s, starting a number of small glazing companies across Finland. One of them was located in Nurmes, where Sundman’s mother and uncle also worked. When Kuopio began to look promising in terms of growth opportunities, they decided to set up their own business here. That is how Lasilinkki was born.

The operations of Lasilinkki are built upon three cornerstones: Lasilinkki construction and repair glazing, the Essis by Lasilinkki interior design glass brand and the export of artisan glasses.

“When using glass in interior design, we rely on our superpowers: recycled glass and artisan glass products. We reshape glass using a method that we developed ourselves: we melt the glass in melting furnaces and mould it into various glass products. Our artisan and recycled glass products showcase our unique craftsmanship,” says Sundman.

Exports launched in Swedish market

The company’s first export destination has been Sweden, but the plan is to expand to the other Nordic countries as well. Some products have also been exported to Lithuania and Spain.

“Our goal is to get involved in major projects through Nordic design agencies. Last year’s fair in Sweden was a pivotal moment for us. We were able to build networks and show agencies that we are serious about entering the global market. That is how it all started,” says Sundman happily.

According to Sundman, architects are generally not very well aware of the various ways that glass can be used. She says that the team spend a lot of their time educating designers and architects.

Business that feels genuine

Lasilinkki does not have many standard products, but almost all its products are created from scratch. The company stands out from other design studios by taking on challenges and also doing more unconventional things that others shy away from.

“One of our major assets is knowing the soul of glass. We possess strong design skills and glass craftsmanship. New members typically join our team through journeyman and apprentice training and stay with us for a long time. Our employees are also highly motivated to improve their skills. Our business has a genuine feel about it, and that also comes across to others,” says Sundman.

In addition to the employees, the company’s partners and customers are also long-term. Sundman says that some of the customers rely on them already in the fourth generation, and many partners have walked by their side for a long time, providing support whenever needed.

“Nobody can make it on their own. For example, Essis has gained a nationwide foothold specifically through our networks,” says Sundman.

Lasilinkki is not afraid to try something new

After the initial shock at the start of the pandemic, Lasilinkki thrived even during COVID-19 due to its capacity for renewal. The company has always been reactive, and this strategy proved its worth during the pandemic. Lasilinkki began manufacturing and selling safety products for customer service counters. It was one of the few companies that was even able to increase its production and hire more people during COVID-19.

“That was definitely one of the highlights in the history of our company; I was so proud of our team. We were able to respond to the situation flexibly and with agility. It is in those moments that you can see what we are made of. Adaptability is vital in times of crisis,” says Sundman.

The same adaptability could also be seen at the fair in Sweden where the company had an entirely different export strategy planned in advance. Sundman explains that the initial strategy was abandoned about an hour into the fair and the team ended up talking about something completely different once they had heard what the designers were looking for.

“We are not afraid of changing course or trying something new. That is probably the courage that drives us forward.”

Kuopio is a good place for entrepreneurs

Lasilinkki will be releasing two novelties this year in collaboration with various designers. The company is also undertaking a development project funded by ELY, which involves developing its production. Three new melting furnaces have been acquired and more space has been made available for production.

“In early autumn, we will also open three showrooms with our partners in Tampere, Turku and Helsinki. Despite expanding our operations, we have no plans to leave Kuopio. Kuopio is a good place to be, to live and do business. We will continue to make our products here, but will also be taking them to other markets,” says Sundman.

She encourages other growth-seeking entrepreneurs to boldly take part in development projects, ask for help and surround themselves with people who know how to do things better than they themselves do.

“It’s a big plus if they are as crazy as you are – that’s even better,” says Sundman with a laugh.

Lasilinkki’s website

Partnerships at the core of operations

Lasilinkki has a number of subcontractors in the Kuopio region that it uses in its production. For example, wood, metal and painting services are sourced from local suppliers. The company also works in active cooperation with various other businesses.

“Good examples of this cooperation include our partnerships with Lignell & Piispanen and Lumoava to bring various stakeholders to Kuopio. We also had a joint exhibition space at Habitare a few years ago as one of ten companies from Kuopio. Partnerships are extremely important for us – they are at the core of our operations,” says CEO of Lasilinkki, entrepreneur Essi Sundman.

Text: Minna Akiola
Photos: Lasilinkki