Johanna Hankala masters reagents
DHR Finland Innotrac Diagnostics Oy’s quick tests are selling well around the world. Johanna Hankala has been developing their production and the company’s operations from a small start-up into an industrial plant with more than one hundred employees.
Biochemist Johanna Hankala still has the passion, although she has been working in the company that started as Innotrac Oy since its early days. She joined the small company that had started in the basement of BioCity and interrupted her postgraduate studies at the Department of Biotechnology in the University of Turku. Set up around the idea of professors Timo Lövgren and Kim Pettersson, the company began to develop diagnostics for identifying myocardial infarction.
”We started operations in the basement of BioCity where the first thing to do was to wash the walls and ceiling together with Antti Iitiä who was the CEO at the time. I have always been interested in production, and things moved fast. The decisive step was the selling of the company to Radiometer AS from Denmark, because it enabled the global distribution of our products. It’s unlikely that we could have continued without them. American corporation Danaher that owns Radiometer has also enhanced our development activities”, Johanna Hankala says.
The company moved to Biolinja street in 2006 and has stayed there, because there has always been more space available when the operations have expanded. This spring, Innotrac celebrates its 20th anniversary and now also manufactures many other tests in industrial scale in two shifts. The company has around 130 employees of whom 30 work in product development.
The growth of the company has largely been secured by Radiometer AS which has operated for over 30 years. The personnel numbers around 2,000 and the products are distributed globally. Innotrac is able to focus on its special areas; product development and production. DHR Finland Innotrac Diagnostics Oy is a subsidiary of Radiometer’s parent group Danaher.
”I’m still inspired by my work, as I continuously learn something new; most recently business operations in accordance with Danaher’s lean principles. I’m fascinated by the opportunity to do something new and be able to see the results of my work. No two days are still alike at work after 20 years. I like changes and there have been plenty of them”, Ms Hankala says.
Ms Hankala has played a big role in all stages of the company’s development. She is the Operations Director of the plant, and everything that goes on in the company is in fact her business. She maintains close communication with the Danes and visits there once or twice a month. The Danes monitor the market development and find distribution channels for Innotrac’s products. Many investments in production have been implemented in Turku.
Management of growth
”Managing the growth is a challenge. Information services, for example, require planning as the personnel has increased and works in shifts. Growth also calls for processual changes and investments as well as room for expansion. We have invested in automation, which has enhanced our operations and improved our competitiveness. For example, in December we invested in a new production line, and there are some investments planned for this year, too.”
The investments generate growth, which Ms Hankala expects to be around 20–30 per cent this year. The growth figure for last year was 40 per cent, and the plant manufactured around 81,000 test kits, which equals 13 million tests. Turnover totalled around 30 million euros.
Home and family are important
When the work is hectic and interesting, you don’t always notice the passing of time. Luckily Johanna Hankala has a family with two children that keeps the mom away from work at free time. The way from home to work is not long, as the family lives in Itäharju district. Her husband works as a teacher and is a lot of help in running the everyday life, but at weekends Johanna enjoys cooking and experimenting with new flavours.
“I like to cook stews and for example sushi. I also make fresh pasta myself. It’s great for lasagne, and it’s not difficult to make. The taste is worth the trouble”, Ms Hankala says.
She does not have any special hobbies, but she enjoys just staying at home and working in the garden in the summer. The family has been downhill skiing in Meri-Teijo earlier in the winter. This year they are going for the ski holiday to Åre, Sweden together with friends who have children of the same age. Last winter they went to Sälen, and they have also made trips together to France, Italy, Spain and California.
“I do kayaking with my husband, and we have made two-night trips to the archipelago. The longest trip was from Korpo to Nötö. In winter we have tried tour skating. I didn’t like it too much, but my husband keeps dragging me to Littoistenjärvi lake and Uittamo seashore to practise”, Johanna Hankala says and chuckles.
Text and photos: Anne Kortela
- Born in 1967 in Kokkola, lives in Turku
- Operations Director, DHR Finland Innotrac Diagnostics Oy
Education: Master of Science, Åbo Akademi 1993
- 1994 Wallac Oy, quality chemist
- 1995 University of Turku, postgraduate student
- 1996– Innotrac Oy, currently DHR Finland Innotrac Diagnostics Oy
- Cooking, gardening, downhill skiing, kayaking
- Family: husband and two children (aged 13 and 16 years)