In the early 2000s, Minna Åman-Toivio was living in the United Arab Emirates with her family. Backed by a group of Indian and Arab investors, she was there to create a Swiss-based international school concept covering primary, secondary and upper secondary school education. Her husband Tuukka Toivio was working as a doctor whose job was to use a small plane to transport patients experiencing medical emergencies around the world. The couple was surprised to see how many suppliers were involved in the distribution of medical products. There was no one-stop shop online where you could get all the products you needed. Instead, you had to order them from various suppliers from around the world.
Once Minna Åman-Toivio and her family moved back to Finland in 2008, she came up with a business idea as a response to the problems she had identified with the availability and distribution of emergency medical supplies. In the same year, the world was hit by a financial crisis and many entrepreneurs found themselves struggling. Minna Åman-Toivio thought this was the right time to start MedKit Finland Oy, an online store specialised in medical supplies.
“We started from scratch. We had no logo, no name and no cash flow. In our first year, the world was in a deep recession, which was a difficult starting point for a business. But that’s what our operating environment has been like – it’s never been smooth sailing. From the beginning, our aim was to go international. We started building growth through investing in the company ourselves and with the help of Nordea,” Minna Åman-Toivio says.
that’s what our operating environment has been like – it’s never been smooth sailing.
Covid-19 spurred the company to robust growth
Minna Åman-Toivio’s company has helped secure the provision of various medical supplies and services in a number of crisis situations. Most recently, there was a critical shortage of face masks and medical gloves, among other supplies, at the start of the world-wide Covid-19 pandemic.
“I was working around the clock at the peak of the pandemic. Fortunately, my circumstances allowed me to focus fully on work. We had the important task of delivering the masks and gloves needed to curb the spreading of the virus to countries all over the world, including Finland. We were trying to keep up with the virus and provide our customers with the supplies they needed depending on the disease situation,” Minna Åman-Toivio says.
MedKit’s annual turnover exceeded one million euros in 2012. In 2018, it was already 3.4 million and in 2020 over 6 million. In the 9 months that followed, the company reached a whole new level with its turnover multiplying to a whopping 32 million as a result of the pandemic.
“Many businesses suffered from the pandemic, and this was also a hot topic in the media. We took control of the situation and decided to take a risk and see where it would lead us. Our success came down to quick decisions and a good understanding of our operating environment. We had to be prepared to take urgent action,” Minna Åman-Toivio says, looking back on that year.
People and partners as powerful growth enablers
There have been many twists and turns along the company’s growth journey. In March 2021, MedKit Finland Oy merged with Pamark Oy. Today, the company’s product offering comprises some 16,000 products covering all stages of a patient’s lifecycle from birth to death. In addition to medical supplies, the company also sells restaurant, hotel and catering supplies, cleaning supplies as well as office supplies.
“For me, the most important part of my job is the people and the partners we work with. When you start from zero and aim for high growth, you will need help from all kinds of people with different backgrounds along the way. To succeed in business development, it’s essential that you find the right people for the right roles. Nordea has been our partner from the very beginning. And without a good partner, it wouldn’t have been possible for us to grow the way we did during the pandemic. We won many tenders, which enabled us to become a global supplier. We needed solutions fast to help us procure these products,” Minna Åman-Toivio says and continues:
“We have built our close collaboration on trust as well as good and quick communication. Nordea has always been in the loop and known what’s coming, and it has therefore been able to react very quickly. Nordea has helped us create our growth plan and challenged us when needed.”
When you start from zero and aim for high growth, you will need help from all kinds of people with different backgrounds along the way. To succeed in business development, it’s essential that you find the right people for the right roles.
Keys to growth: careful preparation and business acquisitions
The company, now known as Pamark Oy and led by Minna Åman-Toivio as the CEO, has grown stronger through business acquisitions. The acquisitions and careful preparation have been key factors in enabling growth.
“Nothing has happened by accident. All of our success is the result of us planning our next growth stage and goals. For several years before the pandemic, I had anticipated the business taking off. And when Covid-19 hit, I immediately knew it was the opportunity we had been waiting for. In that moment, we took a risk and went all in,” Minna Åman-Toivio says and continues:
“We have been able to drive growth through business acquisitions. In the past two years, our company has been sold twice and we also bought another company (Systeema Oy) to accelerate growth. The purpose of integrating all these businesses has been to achieve higher growth and better services. Our number of employees has increased significantly, and we now have offices in Oulu, Vantaa, Joensuu and Kuopio. My goal as an entrepreneur has always been to grow our business from zero to a hundred million euros. Our turnover is currently at about 70 million euros. My strength as the CEO is that I myself have started from scratch, being self-taught. I understand and know the business inside and out, which helps me greatly in leading the company. I have already been through an eventful growth journey and come along way as a growth entrepreneur. With Pamark, we can take the next step. I like to continuously challenge myself and never take the easy route. My personal goal is to one day feel like I’m enough”.
Pamark supports the fight against climate change
Pamark Oy’s Greenline project offers tools to track carbon footprints and lead the green transition. It’s designed to shed light on the challenges related to the environmental impact of logistics and procurement.
The Greenline project provides solutions to companies wanting to manage their CO2 emissions and supply chains. Pamark also uses this tool to calculate the carbon footprint of its products, allowing customers to choose how they would like to compensate for the carbon footprint of the supplies they order.
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