The Story of Hiil Ltd.
Hiil Ltd., founded in 2023, is a relatively new company, but it has a rich history of over 10 years in wood shaping, modification, and furnishing.
First, there was a wood artist
Entrepreneur brothers Miikka and Joona Kotilainen, who own Hiil, also founded the creative carpentry workshop Woodartist Ltd. in 2014.
Woodartist specializes in crafting extremely unique custom wood furniture and interiors for both private and public spaces. Notable works include saunas made from the roots of storm-felled spruces for gaming company Supercell’s offices and the roundabout art installation “Versot” (designed by Sakari Hartikainen) near the University of Eastern Finland in Joensuu’s center.
Woodartist was awarded the ELY Centre’s environmental prize in 2022, and its entrepreneurs, Miikka and Joona Kotilainen, were named Entrepreneurs of the Year in the North Karelia region in 2020.
We’ve always utilized waste wood
Puuartisti has utilized waste wood in many of its projects, such as raising logs submerged in lakes, using millennia-old trees from bogs, or using trunks from urban park trees. This reputation led a circular economy expert from Spolia Design to approach Miikka with an idea: could he think of a way to utilize waste wood from the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency’s bridge construction sites?
The waste wood from bridge sites, often covered in sand and concrete and containing metal pieces, is challenging to utilize. Metal can be easily removed, but wood covered in sand and concrete cannot be conventionally processed.
It all started with wood charring
Charring the wood’s surface had been a familiar technique in many of Puuartisti’s projects. This was the first method Miikka tried with the bridge site wood. The idea was that by burning the wood’s surface, they could remove a few millimeters of wood matter to which the concrete had adhered. Burning and then washing it with a pressure washer would remove both the char and concrete, leaving a clean, dark brown wood pattern. And it worked. Initial tests showed that concrete could be removed from the wood’s surface by burning and washing, making the timber reusable in construction.
This insight led to the founding of Hiil Ltd. Business concept development and planning began in the spring of 2022, with a principle decision to establish the company and design its own charring line made in the summer of the same year. The company was registered in the commercial register in January 2023 and launched simultaneously as Miikka Kotilainen received the North Karelia region developer award.
The First Year
A year is a short time for a company’s development, but we have accomplished much since then.
We launched the Hiil brand and registered the Kiertopuu®️ trademark. We built a charring line based on our invention and tested it for thousands of hours to find suitable recipes for charring different types of wood. We managed to produce the exterior cladding for the Marttakahvio Café in Joensuu’s market square and all the external wood parts of the Salla National Park wilderness hut using the Kiertopuu®️ concept. We presented our idea at several business idea competitions, receiving some honorable mentions and awards. Our projects have been featured on Yle and MTV television and in numerous articles about the resurgence of charred wood.
Yet, we are just at the very beginning of our journey. Only now are we able to produce larger quantities of charred wood and begin selling and marketing it. It’s great to have you with us on this journey!