Behind the Gaskets | Expert interview: People are the best part of Customer Service Manager Sonja’s work

september 14, 2023

TT Gaskets’ Customer Service Manager Sonja Karne delights our customers by solving even their trickiest challenges.

Sonja Karne

There will soon be cause for celebration as Sonja celebrates her 20th work anniversary with TT Gaskets. Originally starting out in our water cutting department, Sonja has been a permanent fixture of our sales department since the turn of the decade.

Interested in engineering since her youth, Sonja has studied multiple degrees at different schools, the latest of which is a degree in mechanical automation from the Tampere University of Applied Sciences. She has also developed her expertise while working at different companies. The opportunity to advance her career at TT Gaskets has resulted from her own initiative. Sonja’s greatest source of motivation in work is learning new things.

”My goal has been to learn as much as possible in every job I have done. I’ve only been in my current role for a couple of years, but I feel that the future holds a lot for me,” Sonja says.

Sonja’s work consists of drafting offers, receiving orders, and supporting the sales department in addition to her own team. Variation ensures that the work remains challenging, but Sonja is known for her positive attitude in any situation.

”When you’re juggling several things at once, it’s important to remain calm. Even though I’m often receiving multiple inquiries from different directions simultaneously, the work gets done swiftly and systematically.”

Immediate atmosphere makes work meaningful

Customers rely on Sonja with many issues relating to orders, delivery times and our products’ technical properties. She has succeeded in gaining our customers’ trust and has built lengthy relationships by helping them through tricky situations.

”I am warmed when I’m able to brighten up our customers’ days. It doesn’t have to be something big, but the knowledge that I have made someone’s day better is rewarding. Over the years, many customers have become good acquaintances, and we’ll talk about a lot of non-work-related matters.”

In Sonja’s role, collaboration is close with both customers and her own colleagues across departmental boundaries. In her opinion, the best part of the job is quite simply the people.

”Our workplace, with fewer than a hundred employees, is truly close-knit. Everyone knows each other and has become close over the years. TT Gaskets is flexible as an employer, and the overall atmosphere is one where employees are well taken care of.”

Sonja warmly recommends her field and current job to anyone who wants to learn new things and challenge themselves.

”This is the right job if you want to develop yourself. It’s inspiring to work in a company that constantly strives to move forward and stay ahead of development. The attitude of moving forward rubs off on the employees as well.”

In her free time, Sonja recharges her batteries at her summer cottage and enjoys spending time with her dogs. You can also run into her at concerts and summer festivals.

”My spouse and dogs ensure a balance between work and leisure. Cottage life is also important, as thoughts easily detach from work matters at the summer cottage.”

Behind the Gaskets | Expert interview: Energetic Export Coordinator tackles challenges head-on

juni 7, 2023

Having worked at TT Gaskets for over 20 years, Export Coordinator Sari Suoniemi is a trusted partner for both our customers and her colleagues. She is often the first point of contact for TT Gaskets’ customers.

Sari Suoniemi

Sari Suoniemi’s main task at TT Gaskets is to ensure that our order process is a success from start to finish. Sari’s colleagues and clients are mostly located outside Finland, and she really enjoys the international atmosphere. She works in close collaboration with customers and production staff, and succeeding in her position requires the courage to quickly react to changing situations.

”I can quickly figure out different options and contact the right person through my extensive experience and expertise. Our production staff understands urgent situations and promptly addresses orders. I like to think that my customers and colleagues consider me a reliable partner. They can always call me if there is a challenging situation that needs to be solved together,” describes Sari.

Despite constant challenges and rapid changes, Sari finds the changing situations and successful problem-solving to be the best part of her work.

”Once, when a ship traveling to Norway needed spare parts for its engine, we arranged the gaskets with our production ex tempore on the same day and flew them to the location. The passengers had no idea that the engine was being repaired while they were exploring the city. We managed to fix the situation, and the journey continued,” recalls Sari.

Changes require courage to embrace the new

Sari is a second-generation member of the TT Gaskets family. Over the years, she has developed a strong connection with customers, the company, and our products. Her career has progressed by seizing interesting opportunities. Sari has studied international trade, logistics, supply chain management, marketing, and tourism. Continuous learning is essential for success in her work.

”I can’t rely on things staying the same in my work. International trade and logistics regulations and official requirements can change even weekly,” she explains.

Twenty years ago, the export share at TT Gaskets was significantly smaller than it is now. The world has opened up to our Finnish customers over the years, and TT Gaskets’ exports are expected to grow by 20 percent within a few years. Sari is not intimidated by these changes.

”TT Gaskets has a tremendous desire to grow and innovate. We keep our doors open for new opportunities, which requires the courage to embrace the new. Such an atmosphere can evoke uncertain feelings, but I personally embrace the opportunities it brings,” she says enthusiastically.

New projects inspire

Sari is involved in developing TT Gaskets’ packaging and shipping functions to become more sustainable. Sustainable development motivates her both in her professional life and personal choices.

”The importance of sustainable development among our customers is constantly growing, and they want to develop sustainable solutions together with us. I want to contribute to the development, and I also prioritize recycling and sustainable choices outside of work,” she explains.

Sari is the go-to person for different digital systems within the workplace. She has been involved in the development and implementation of our new sales system and has trained the team to confidently adopt new systems.

Nature and mindfulness help relax after a hectic workday

To unwind after a hectic workday, Sari focuses on taking care of her body and mind. She values healthy nutrition, yoga, and Pilates. Nature and mindfulness also help balance her mind, and she has taken courses at Tampere University to incorporate mindfulness into her work.

”I love going to the forest; I get my daily dose of the forest with my dwarf spitz every day. Mindfulness has been a great help in calming my mind,” she says.

Sari is equally passionate about travel, self-development, and ice hockey, which she has been involved in since her teenage years.

”When I put on my skates and step onto the ice, that feeling is hard to find elsewhere. I’m no longer actively playing or coaching, but I participate in the Finnish Ice Hockey Association’s board work. When I get on the ice with children every year, it never fails to bring me joy.”

Behind the Gaskets | Expert Interview: Work planning is a real-life game of Tetris

februari 9, 2023

A keen visual eye, interaction skills and detective work – these all come in handy in the work of our water cutting planners.

Team lead Hanna Lehtonen and work planner Jenny Virta oversee work planning at the TT Gaskets water cutting department.

Hanna’s career at TT Gaskets spans almost two decades. With a vocational qualification in business, Hanna has worked her entire tenure with the company in water cutting ­– and has no plans for switching departments. She has advanced from working in after treatment to operating water cutting machinery, work planning and finally to her current position as team leader.

”I’ve had such a great time that I haven’t really considered anything else,” Hanna says with a laugh.

Precision mechanic Jenny has a background in different factory positions. She has now been with TT Gaskets for four years, three of which in the water cutting team – she started out in rubber metal gasket production and silk screen printing. Before becoming a work planner, she also operated water cutting machinery to learn about the practices and limitations she must consider in her current work.

Looking at the bigger picture

The work planners’ days differ depending on their shift – no workday is the same.

“We work as a pair alternating between day and night shifts. The day shift includes reporting, emails, collaborating with production and sales, running errands and occasional detective work when we need to find out where our shipments are located,” Jenny lists.

The night shift is calmer compared to the day shift, giving time for the planners’ most important task: planning out the blanking programs for the cutting machinery. Both planners describe this work as a real-life game of Tetris.

”Scrap-free blanking requires a keen visual eye to maximize material efficiency. There are a lot of pieces to cut, and they can vary in shape and size wildly. This requires the ability to look at the bigger picture, which of course only comes through experience,” Hanna says.

Hanna’s workdays also include team lead and foreperson duties.

“It’s a matter of pride for me to assume as much responsibility as I can and deliver on my promises. My team includes Jenny, the water cutting staff as well as the department’s warehouse workers, so there is a lot of daily interaction. We have established great mutual trust and I love hearing that my team members are enjoying their work,” Hanna says.

Flexibility in workdays and realizing your dreams

Jenny and Hanna are both extremely satisfied with their current positions.

“I currently have no aspirations for other positions. So far, the company has given me great opportunities for professional development. I feel that the possibilities are there if I should want to advance my career,” Jenny says.

“My career has progressed through the water cutting department. I never would have guessed that I’d be in my current position back when I started. I’m sure I could advance even further within the company, but right now I’m extremely happy with my job,” Hanna fills in.

A great atmosphere, excellent colleagues and mutual trust are highlighted by both work planners when asked about their employer.

”TT Gaskets is an encouraging and flexible family company that trusts their employees. Turnover tends to be very low, and the business is financially stable. As an employee, I feel that this creates a feeling of safety,” Hanna says.

The employer’s flexibility and willingness to accommodate for personal lives is also illustrated in the planners’ free time activities – both are avid world travelers. Hanna visits national parks and has recently completed her tour of all Unesco’s world heritage sites. Jenny is a keen hiker and has just returned from the Himalaya where she trekked to the Mount Everest base camp.

“Being able to take my summer holidays in the early winter displays great flexibility from my employer. I really appreciate that TT Gaskets helped me make this dream a reality,” Jenny says.