A fond farewell to Timo Turunen


Colleagues salute a respected colleague who handles tough problems with a soft touch. 

There is more than a hint of nostalgia in the air as Senior Sales Manager Timo Turunen clears his desk and reminisces over his 32-year career at Finnair Cargo. Retiring “at just the perfect time” on October 31st, the industry veteran looks back on how the cargo industry has changed over the past four decades.

Turunen originally joined Lufthansa in Hamburg as a fresh commercial graduate in 1972. Nine years later he joined Finnair in Frankfurt and quenched his wanderlust during numerous international postings in Germany and Los Angeles.

The industry milestone he names as “most memorable” was the advent of wide-body aircraft in the ‘80s.
“Back in the ‘70s, all cargo was loaded manually on narrow-body passenger aircraft: DC8s, DC9s and Boeing 737s. Now all shipments are loaded on pallets in the warehouse, with minimal risk of damage. The arrival of DC 10s started a huge boom. Air cargo volumes increased massively,” he recalls. 
“And air freight is nowhere near as expensive as it once was. Today we ship spare parts weighing over 10 tonnes, but back in the ‘70s only very special small items were transported by air.”

Mr Congeniality

While air cargo volumes have skyrocketed, the basics of doing business are just as “people-focused” as four decades ago. Nothing is more important in sales than building strong, long-term relationships, affirms Turunen.
“The sales team is the face of Finnair Cargo, so I’m a strong believer in face-to-face contact. When you talk in person, it builds trust and understanding,” he says.
The same warmth and affability that has won him loyalty among customers has also endeared him to his colleagues. 
“Timo is a wonderful person and an extremely hard worker. I really appreciate his experience, professionalism and calm way of solving problems. We will miss him very much and wish him all the very best from our hearts,” says his colleague of ten years, Sales Assistant Jaana Lehtonen.
 “I always try to support everyone and enjoy helping out in the warehouse. I’m not afraid of getting my hands dirty,” adds Turunen.

Leaping leopards

Over the past four decades, Turunen has seen more than his fair share of eccentric shipments, including a caged leopard flown to Los Angeles. A nervous traveller, the irate cat lunged and roared ferociously at anyone who approached its cage, scaring the daylights out of ground crew and baggage handlers. 
He also chuckles mischievously recalling a large abstract painting by Reidar Särestöniemi that once went missing in Frankfurt. Finnair was not the culpable carrier, he hastens to add.
“I couldn’t imagine how such an enormous canvas could be misplaced. We later discovered that the handling company had mistakenly been using it as a pallet. Luckily it was recovered it unscathed.”
Looking remarkably fit and relaxed for someone who works such long hours, the year-round bike commuter grins broadly when asked about his retirement plans.
“My wife and I plan to fly to Spain to escape the cold winter. I’m looking forward to biking without winter tyres and playing more golf. I’m also fixing up an old Porsche 911 that needs rewiring.”
His parting message to his colleagues confirms the sense of humour for which he will be remembered: “Keep the company in good shape so I can retire in comfort!”  
Text by Silja Kudel
Photo by Rami Lappalainen

Published October 9, 2013

Category: Finnair Cargo