Genelec Cafeteria Hosts Maire Lappalainen and Niina Mehtonen

Hi, I'm Maire, and I've been working at Genelec since 1997 as a Factory and Head Office Cafeteria Host. Earlier on, I also had a role in production.

My first contact with Genelec was during a visit to my husband’s work. I had a chance meeting there with his then client, Genelec Founder Ilpo Martikainen. I exchanged a few words with Ilpo, and afterwards he asked my husband who I was. My own workplace had recently let me go as part of a mass redundancy, so my husband told Ilpo about the situation and somewhat advertised that I was looking for another job. Through my husband, Ilpo told me I should contact Genelec and ask for work.

Soon afterward, I had a job interview with Väinö Iso-Markku, who was Genelec's Production Manager at the time. At that moment, there were no jobs available, but a few months later, on a fine and memorable Friday, Väinö called me and asked if I could get started the following week. During the same call, he asked if I'd like to join Genelec's summer party, which was happening that very same day! I was happy to go and meet my future colleagues for the first time.

When I started, there were about 35 employees at our Iisalmi Factory. Since then, the number of employees has steadily increased, which is the main reason why I left my part-time production role to focus entirely on the cafeteria. Today, Iisalmi employs around 200 people spread over two shifts.

At the café, I make sure we have plenty of tea and coffee, plus a range of sweet and savoury snacks. I keep food stocked up by visiting the shops and organise catering for groups of visitors. At times, we get a whole busload of guests at the factory, and it's an honour to be able to offer them a memorable tour experience with high-quality music listening and refreshments.

What I enjoy most here is the diversity of the tasks I do and being a part of what everyone achieves together. At Genelec, everyone has freedom in their work, we don't have supervisors stationed behind our backs. Even during difficult times for me personally, I've been able to come to work with utter confidence; colleagues have let me know it's ok to take space and cry here. It feels that we’re all one family, with an equal footing. Aside from our strong working relationships, very many close friendships have developed over the years. We consider that homely spirit and culture to be a part of Ilpo's great legacy.

One of my fondest memories of Ilpo is the time he launched his "Genelec pizza". He created it many years ago to sustain himself when he didn't have time for a proper lunch break. His "pizza" had cheese and black pepper on a traditional Finnish crispbread, something very similar to a cracker. 'Genelec pizza' quickly became a factory favourite, saving many busy days when someone needed an easy lunch.

Maire Lappalainen web

As a working community, we mark important events together at the factory, for example we celebrate each employee's birthday. Since there’s so many of us nowadays, we've started a handy "Birthdays of the Month" system, which allows us to celebrate a whole month of birthdays in one go. New product launches and prestigious awards are also great moments that we enjoy together - cake for everyone!

Our Iisalmi team generally considers the cafeteria to be the heart and nerve centre of the factory. While sipping tea or coffee and putting the world to rights with colleagues, it's nice to gaze out over Porovesi Lake’s seasonal landscape. That’s great medicine for the soul and a boost for our wellbeing during the busiest days.

I have two adult children and four grown-up grandchildren, and family is extremely important to me, so I spend a lot of time with them. I exercise daily, which I feel is essential for maintaining good working health - cycling to work all year round and going aqua jogging in my free time. I often enjoy going to see plays, with summer theatre being my absolute favourite. I try to see all the shows in our local area!

I've just turned 71, and I must say I'm still enjoying my job – it’s been hard to envision retirement. I've often been asked why I've continued so long, and the answer is the great people I work with; all because of Genelec's warm and cosy working community! This company's values are so well aligned with my own, it's been a pleasure to work for such a respectable operation. Proudly, I tell everyone I meet that I work for Genelec! In the past, many people didn't know what we're all about, but these days many do, and they often say they've heard good things, so it feels satisfying to be a part of that.

Now that I'm ready, I’ve finally made the decision to retire, starting from the beginning of next year. I'm already feeling melancholic about it, even though I know I'll come and visit here often. My retirement feels a lot easier to handle knowing that I have a wonderful successor in Niina Mehtonen. Niina's mother Irma was a colleague of mine at Genelec for about 20 years, so I've been familiar with her since she was a little girl. I think it speaks to the strength of our working community that we have many great examples of second-generation employees here!

Maire and Niina web image

Niina Mehtonen

Hello, I'm Niina, and I'm the newest host at Genelec's Iisalmi cafeteria.

I sent an open application to Genelec about three years ago, and at the beginning of 2022 I was contacted and offered a job. I didn't apply to any other places, as I already had a good job, yet I knew that I’d like a move to Genelec if a chance came along. As Maire briefly mentioned, my mother worked here for many years, starting in the 90s, but my sister also joined the company later on, so Genelec has been very familiar to me indeed. I got to know Maire through my mother's work already when I was small, and when I got the offer to continue her work with a view to her reaching retirement, I was delighted to accept the challenge.

The best things about my job are that every day is different, I stay physically active, and I don't work at a single desk. My job is independent yet social, with plenty of people to meet all day, mostly during their breaks. During those brief encounters, we usually like to exchange all our news!

You might say that Genelec has been part of my life since I was a little girl, and you know, I lived Genelec's story through my mother and sister for many years before I arrived. In that sense, it was very easy to come here, as it already felt like home and I knew so many people.

I have two grown-up daughters who're studying and living on their own, and I'm a great animal lover, who's always kept dogs and horses as a part of my life. In my free time, I like to stay fit with plenty of exercise. For a long time, I dreamt of riding a motorbike, and finally, a few years ago, I realised my dream and got my driving licence and motorcycle!

It is a pleasure and a great honour to continue Maire's work. I very much look forward to many great years ahead as part of Genelec's warm and friendly working community.

Niina Mehtonen web image