Colleagues for over 40 years

Mitta’s chief laboratory technicians Heikki Isohookana and Pertti Uhlbäck will soon enjoy their well-deserved retirement days.

Pertti Uhlbäck (left) and Heikki Isohookana.

The retirement plans of Heikki Isohookana and Pertti Uhlbäck are ready:

”I’m looking forward to forest work and exercising when I retire. I´m also going to the woods to collect berries and enjoy nature. Overall, there is more time for hobbies,” says Heikki.

”Exercise is my thing too: cycling, the gym and partner dancing,” Pertti says.

The chief laboratory technicians have followed the same paths, from studying to planning for retirement. The two have worked as colleagues since 1980. Both started their working careers in Imatra´s Voima concrete and soil laboratory and moved from there to the Technological Research Center VTT. The path finally brought them to Mitta through the Oulu University of Applied Sciences. Now they have been working for Mitta for the past two years. Both have a respectably long career in the field of testing and research.

”I immediately felt that I found my own field”

”After graduating as a laboratory technician, I joined the army and after that I had to look for a job and there were no jobs available. When I came home from a job seeking trip, I sat down in a rocking chair in despair. My mother said to look at some other jobs. So I started looking through the phone book and noticed the name of IVO’s laboratory. I called there and immediately got a job interview and got a position as a laborant. I immediately felt that I found my own field,” says Heikki.

Pertti’s entry into his own career happened by chance:

”Through a relative, I heard by accident that Imatran Voima Oy might have a place. I thought I could do it for a while, but I stayed in the industry for my entire career.  So obviously I’ve been doing this for some time”.

What has changed in the field of concrete in forty years – and how will the sector develop in the future?

Heikki’s and Pertti’s customers are concrete suppliers who produce fresh concrete elements. In addition, construction companies and builders of infrastructure and wind power parks are today a significant customer base.

At the beginning of his career, Heikki says that the concrete pressing equipment was manually operated.

”Today, all testing machines are computer-controlled. Print transfers work electronically, while previously information was sent by letter or fax”.

”Today, the first customers are in the pilot phase of switching to MittaWorld, where they can watch anything, anytime. This is a significant difference. Accreditation of testing has also become important these days and the guidelines have become more detailed,” says Pertti.

Change is also expected in the future:

”Testing will continue in this way, and it must be done. There will be more renewable materials and recycled materials, as well as testing and preliminary testing”.

The photo was taken in 1967 from the concrete and soil laboratory of Imatran Voima Oy (IVO for short), at Ahjotie 4 in Oulu. The working careers of the duo began in the building in -79 and -80. The building has now been demolished and a road is going over it. The picture is of the storage room, where the customer’s test specimens were stored until testing, at approximately 100% humidity and a temperature of approximately 20 °C.

A picture of the testing room where the concrete presses and the general substance testing device were located. In the picture (sitting man), Erkki Kotasaari was also at work when Heikki and Pertti started their careers in the laboratory.

Student collaboration with future engineers and builders

During their careers, Heikki and Pertti have been able to work at a university of applied sciences, guiding future workers.

”In practice, we prepared concrete from a recipe prepared by the students, from which we prepared test pieces for various tests. The teacher or lecturer gave the theory part first. The lab exercises were part of the course and we were responsible for running the labs (concrete castings, etc.). In this way, the students were able to familiarize themselves with the concrete industry and then knew how to apply what they learned on real construction sites,” says Pertti.

It’s especially fun to bump into old students at work sites:

”When you go to work, for example, to drill samples, you sometimes run into old students – you don’t always remember them, but they remember us and greet happily,” says Pertti.

”It’s really nice, it’s often happened like this, and long-term cooperation has been done with some of them,” Heikki recalls.

Professionals receive praise from customers

Over the years, customers have given praise especially for professionalism, flexibility and delivering results.

”At Mitta, we are immediately ready to address the customer’s needs and possible problems, and to solve assignments reliably and quickly,” says Heikki.

”Experience has been gained from all kinds of damage and measurement work. I have also been involved in microbial projects. We also have a broad understanding of the construction industry,” Pertti continues.

Experience transfers to Mitta’s new generation

Now Heikki and Pertti are experts in the concrete industry themselves and are passing on their lessons to a new generation of Mitta employees.

Riikka Paananen has worked as a laboratory analyst at Mitta for two and a half years. She considers it very important for development at work to share gained knowledge.

”Smart decisions have been made at Mitta in terms of getting the younger generation to draw knowledge from the older generation well in advance. I have learned a lot myself, for example, with regard to accredited methods and I have been writing down some so called ”silent information” in the form of new method instructions.”

Riikka feels that the cooperation between the younger and older generations is fruitful for the entire working community:

”Younger people bring a new perspective and development ideas to the work community, and the more experienced employees give the support and strong know-how to draw from. For example, during the spring, Heikki has familiarized us with many ”old” methods that have not been actively performed for years, but possibly in the future they would be part of the analyzes performed at Mitta. ”

Riikka has found the collaboration interesting and educational:

”Professionals with more than 40 years of experience in the field have a lot to tell. There is enough talk about both work and funny incidents along the way. It has been enlightening to hear how the work was once done and how everything has developed over the years towards the present day.”

”Young people learn things surprisingly quickly and all the use of computer equipment has been adopted in a completely different way – language skills and digital skills are the thing of the new generation”, praises Pertti.

”This new generation is faster to learn, and sharper,” Heikki continues.

Future retirees are leaving Mitta with good memories

Soon it is time to clean the desks and say goodbye to coworkers. Heikki will retire in August 2023, Pertti in October 2023. Over the years, versatile jobs, student cooperation and colleagues have brought richness and joy in to their work.

”On the other hand, it feels wistful, but also relieving,” says Heikki.

”I’m looking forward to my retirement days, and later we’ll see if the feeling is more of relief or longing, but I’ve heard from the pensioners in Oulu that the real rush and hurry starts once you get retired”, reflects Pertti.

Pertti and Heikki will definitely keep in touch with old colleagues:

”I’m sure I’ll miss my colleagues when I’m retired. Fortunately, I can easily go by bike to visit them for a coffee,” Pertti plans.

”I’ll probably visit and call. And everyone can always call me if they have any questions”, says Heikki.


Services and contact information in the future:

Service Manager Janne Lepistö

tel: +358 50 477 8864

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