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According to Heikki Pehkonen, CEO of the Pyhäjoen Leipä, their ovens are heated up five days a week. Photos by Toni Pallari

Baker’s craft is alive and well in Pyhäjoki

Four generations of Pehkonens have been transporting freight in their family business. The entrepreneurs never plan to use robots in their bakery; their products will be handmade also in the future.

Pyhäjoen Leipä ja Kuljetus Pehkonen & Kumpp. was established in the early 1980s when Raili Pehkonen, the mother of Heikki and Mikko Pehkonen, decided to start a bakery in addition to a transport company managed by her husband Pentti Pehkonen.

Nowadays, they transport freight all the way to mainland Europe with nearly a hundred years of experience. The bakery’s products are sold closer to home and made at the Pehkonen farmstead on Pistoolitie in Pyhäjoki.

“At the earliest, I go to the bakery at five in the morning, but it does not take many minutes after waking up before I start working,” Heikki Pehkonen says while having coffee in the red building.

Personal service

The bakery business was transferred to the hands of the Pehkonen brothers ten years ago. Their mother is still a familiar sight in the bakery, however. Once the business starting picking up speed, the kitchen of their childhood home became too small. The separate bakery building was completed in 1988. The business still resembles a home bakery, though.

“We have never planned building a larger bakery in an industrial area to have robots and other automation to do the work for us. We make the products by hand: two of our buns never look exactly the same,” Heikki Pehkonen says.

“We make the products by hand: two of our buns never look exactly the same.”

Handmade products and the company being local are also important values for the bakery’s customers. For the business, this means a limited product portfolio – meanwhile, it also means flexibility, which the customers value. You don’t have to order several pallets of pastries from the Pehkonen family.

“You need a small bakery when you want something special done. The share of gluten-free products has clearly increased, for example.”

Secret of good Christmas star pastries

The bakery’s Christmas star pastries have been popular from the very start. The bakery makes its puff pastry from scratch.

“Butter is the secret of a good Christmas star pastry,” Pehkonen reveals.

Heikki (in the left) and Mikko Pehkonen has had a bakery in Pyhäjoki already for ten years. The most important values of the company are to produce local and handmade products.

Store bakeries have decreased the demand for bread made in local bakeries. Nevertheless, rye bread and pan bread made in Pyhäjoki will be available in Raahe, Kalajoki, and Oulainen also in the future. Other popular products include Swiss rolls, buns, and cakes.

“Our catering service is a good substitute for the decreased demand for bread. The growth started around five years ago, and the demand has remained at a good level for a few years now. We make traditional soups and casserole dishes in addition to pastries.”

Salmon soup for construction site workers

The ovens are heated up five days a week. The everyday life of the bakery is also scheduled based on a variety of events. It tends to be quieter at the beginning of the week, but the pace picks up the closer to the weekend you get, because both parties and funerals are usually arranged on the weekend.

Pyhäjoen Leipä has offered salmon soup at the Hanhikivi peninsula since 2008. The company also used to handle catering for the Hanhikivi 1 open house events until the number of visitors to the annual event increased to several thousand people.  Nowadays, Pyhäjoen Leipä provides catering for Fennovoima on a weekly basis for meetings, etc.

“The Hanhikivi 1 project has already brought several large construction industry companies to the area, and they provide us regular employment with their events.”