The company was started in 1970 by Vidgrén’s father, who started out as a farmer that did logging on the weekends. Moving full-time into logging, Vidgrén’s father started to buy old farm equipment to help with the job. Because the equipment consistently broke, Vidgrén’s father decided to build his own machine and in 1969 the first Ponsse machine was built. The company operates in 42 countries, has 1,700 employees and will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.
Vidgrén shared the interesting story of how the company got its name. The first machine took nine months to build. At that time the company did not have the funds to buy paint for their products. When the machine was finally built, one of the villagers remarked that it looked like the local hunting dog, which was named Ponsse. Vidgrén’s father thought if the dog was able to go and retrieve rabbits from the swamp, his machine would be able to go get the trees from the forest, so the name stuck.
Ponsse has been partnered with Finlandia since 2014, with the hopes of raising awareness about forestry work in today’s generation. An internship is offered by the company to a Finlandia student. During their time as an intern, the student visits Ponsse’s North American headquarters in Rhinelander, Wisconsin and then visits Ponsse’s headquarters in Vieremä, Finland. This year’s Ponsse intern is junior accounting major Nick Tobey.
Giving back is a top priority for Ponsse, which is why they helped sponsor the cookbook Tastes of Finnish America. The cookbook can be found at North Wind Books and all proceeds go to the Finnish American Heritage Center. Vidgrén stated that he wanted to help make something for the next generation, and recipes for family meals tend to always be passed down through generations. Happy with the final product, Vidgrén stated his thanks to Jim Kurtti and everyone who helped make the book a possibility.
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