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Play and exercise are serious business for Lappset

ARCTIC STORIES Lappset wants people of all ages to jump into everyday adventures, to shape up while having fun. The family-run company is stretching itself to conquer new markets.

Lappset Group Ltd. designs and constructs play and sport equipment. Demand for exercise equipment is growing, but the company mission has remained the same since the very start.

”The company founder Antero Ikäheimo wanted to create attractive and comfortable outdoor environments for families. If you think about the urban infrastructure in the 1970’s, there definitely was room for improvement”, managing director Tero Ylinenpää explains.

Playground equipment was Lappset’s first product group. The colourful playhouses, slides and swings boasted Finnish wood and local craftsmanship.

Since the late 1990’s global megatrends have directed the company to develop outdoor exercise equipment, fitness solutions for adults and the elderly. Wood remains the main raw material. All products have also metal components, and modern composite materials are used.

“It is very simple: people get too little exercise. The changing demographics make healthy lifestyles more and more important. That is our purpose, to create environments that inspire people to exercise so that they will be in better shape in the future”, Tero Ylinenpää acknowledges.

“We design inspiring playfields for teenagers to practice crossfit, parkour or whatever sport is trending. We have also solutions for senior citizens. In our research and development we always cooperate with experts.”

Then there are the theme parks. It all started from cooperation with the gaming giant Rovio. The original idea was to combine traditional playground equipment with the brand imagery, but the concept started to spread and grow into activity parks. New clients came calling. Now theme parks are transforming into family entertainment centres.

“Our concept is based on a business model that we construct in cooperation with our client. We build our parks as turnkey solutions, tailored to the needs of each client”, Tero Ylinenpää explains.

“We are proud to have been able to extend our operations into theme parks, and to gain recognition so that major actors want to cooperate with us.”

The play equipment market is fragmented, and Lappset cannot boast with major market volumes. Yet, they have clients that occupy premium locations across the globe. You can play and exercise on Lappset equipment in China and in Canada, in Spain and in Malaysia.

The market is international, but the company is deeply rooted in Rovaniemi where they have their headquarters and factory.

“We are an Arctic company. We are located at the Arctic Circle, and our raw materials come from the north. The location has never been a problem; on the contrary, it is positively exotic”, Tero Ylinenpää claims.

In sparsely populated Lapland, recruiting staff can be a challenge.

“But once we hire someone, they usually want to stay. That is a great asset to the company – people know their tasks and the company culture. We also have loyal subcontractors we have worked with for decades.”

“We have been pathfinders on many fields; on many occasions the market has not yet been ready for our innovations. We are pioneers also in taking technology outdoors, using it in such a way that it can get people moving”, Tero Ylinenpää says.

At Lappset, the management tries to practice what they preach. When the managing director looks out of his office window, he can see a sports area where the company organises exercise sessions for employees. Tero Ylinenpää is no stranger to the equipment himself, though he refuses to name any favourites.

There are hundreds of products in the Lappset portfolio. The idea behind makes them much more than just colourful frames, stands, rails or boxes.

“I think our greatest achievement is that we are bringing small everyday joys for millions of people exercising and playing with our solutions in more than 60 countries. It gives us the feeling that we are doing something that matters. This is a positive industry. We can provide solutions to the side effects of modern megatrends – we can help people choose a healthier lifestyle”, Tero Ylinenpää asserts.

Photos © Antti Kurola
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Lappset's Tero Ylinenpää wants to inspire people to exercise.

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