The leader in kicksleds celebrates 90 years
TEXT: MALIN NORMAN | PHOTOS © E.S. LAHTINEN OY
A superb way to enjoy the outdoors and get some healthy exercise, kicksledding is also great fun for all ages. With Esla, everyone can find the right kicksled, and even the family’s little ones can join in.
Back in 1928, Esla’s founder Erkki Samuli Lahtinen started out with sales of Indian motorcycles and general machine repair. The company began production of kicksleds in 1933, and this turned out to be the real starting point for the company. In 1980, wheels were placed under the kicksled and development continued in wheel-equipped mobility devices for use in hospitals, industries and other large buildings. These days, Esla still makes their classic kicksleds as well as scooters, kick cycles, rollators and rocking chairs. In addition to all of this, Esla is also a subcontractor of sheet metal and aluminium profile parts for other companies, which accounts for half of the business.
This year, the family business is celebrating its 90th anniversary. Mika Lahtinen, the fourth generation at the helm, elaborates on their long-term success: “During the past 90 years, we have gained a lot of know-how but have also had good timing. The secret behind our sales is also the succession of generations, where grandmothers and grandfathers want to buy the same kind of kicksleds that they had, now for their grandchildren.”
“Our classic kicksled is like the legendary Porche 911,” Lahtinen continues. “You can change the look slightly, for example we have a sporty version, KickSpark, but the traditional kicksled is still the favourite and amounts to around 20 per cent of our turnover.” The Scandinavian customers in particular appreciate the independence and mobility that the kicksleds, kick cycles and scooters provide, but they are also gaining ground elsewhere in Europe.
For the real enthusiasts, kicksledding races are becoming increasingly popular. For instance, the Finnish town of Multia has hosted the Kicksled World Championships an impressive 30 times. Races are also held in other countries, the Downhill Kicksled World Championship in Hurdal, Norway, for example. Last year’s winner was Markku Levänen from Finland – on an Esla kicksled, of course.
In celebration of its anniversary, Esla is launching a special version of the T1 kicksled for children, and a black kicksled in models T6 and T7 will appear with the founder’s signature in gold. The Esla Nordic Collection rocking chair, that can be folded, will be available, ideal for both inside and outside use, as well as for the summer house. The company is also looking into electrical use to further help especially seniors stay mobile and independent. However, as Lahtinen points out with a smile, “we are not Tesla with self-driving vehicles.”