Wahlstén - a hundred-year-old success story
Since 1918, Veljekset Wahlstén has been the biggest producer and importer of trotting and riding equipment in the Nordic countries. The century-old success story is founded on professional skills and a large range of top-quality horse equipment. The know-how that has developed during the long history has also been recognised around the world, and today Wahlstén’s horse equipment is sold and appreciated all over Europe. Our export account is now about 40% of our net sales. Our goal is to make durable and practical equipment for all those interested in equestrian sports, for both enthusiasts and professionals.
As the level of equestrian sports continues to rise, we have focused primarily on product development and quality. It is important for us that our products represent Finnish crafts and the best quality in the world. Hand-made quality equipment, for both trotting and riding horses, has been sent from Lahti, Finland, all over the world for decades.
The products we represent
Wahlstén - premium leather products
Our production produces handmade Wahlstén premium leather products. The Wahlstén product line also includes other horse equipments, like rugs, equipments for trotting and riding sports, and various nutritional feeding supplements. Products designed in Finland have received the Design From Finland label.
Several quality brands
We have a several products from brands: Sprenger, Acavallo, Lami-Cell, Equestro, TRM, Back On Track, Dr Repel, Farnam, Wahl, Lister, Sir Lancelot, Kerckhaert, Rapide, Deltacast, Mustad, Thors Trading AB and VPlast.
The story of Velj. Wahlstén begins in 1918, when Aino Maria and Hugo Teodor Wahlstén started manufacturing harnesses. In 1931 Aino and Hugo Teodor Wahlstén set up the company “Lahden Valjas” (Harnesses of Lahti), in Aleksanterinkatu street in Lahti. The harnesses were made in Laune, but the store was located in Aleksanterinkatu. At the same time, Aino Maria’s second son, Hugo Axel Rikhard, married Margareta Walsten from Oitti. The couple had four children, Ensio, Paavo, Reijo and Eino. In 1936 Aino and Hugo Teodor divorced, and one year later their company Lahden Valjas was sold to Ilmari Hakala. Aino’s son Hugo Axel Rikhard started working at the company, now owned by Hakala.
In the early 1950’s Hugo Axel Rikhard founded Wahlstén’s harness shop. He manufactured the harnesses himself. At the same time, however, Hugo’s and Margareta’s marriage failed, and they divorced. Margareta moved to Kausala with his new husband Pentti. Hugo Axel Rikhard found a new spouse, Hertta Sandelin, and the newly-wed couple moved to Kukkila in Hollola, near Lahti. In Kukkila, Hugo continued to manufacture harnesses. At the end of the 1950’s the oldest of Hugo Axel Rikhards’s sons, Eino, founded a company called Tmi Eino Wahlstén. Ensio, Reijo and Paavo went to work for their big brother at the turn of the 1950’s and 1960’s. An accountant for the company was also found in the family: Hugo’s sister Impi Wahlstén.
In 1969 Ensio Wahlstén founded the company T:mi Ensio Wahlstén. Shortly thereafter Reijo and Paavo also planned to start their own companies, but instead in 1972 the three brothers together founded the company Velj. Wahlsten Oy, meaning the Wahlstén brothers. Eino was also invited to join, but he did not want to participate in the new company. Velj. Wahlstén started in Lahti, in Karjalankatu street. At this time wheel covers became mandatory in sulkies, which boosted the brothers’ business. The trio had three buses where trotting equipment was sold, and they toured the trotting races of Southern and Central Finland. At the end of the 1970’s, Reijo sold his share of the company to his brothers Ensio and Paavo Wahlsten.
At the beginning of the 1980’s the racecourse in Lahti was moved to Jokimaa, and Velj. Wahlstén also moved there a few years later. At around the same time Paavo and Seija Wahlstén divorced, and Paavo died in an accident in 1989. The heirs of Paavo Wahlstén – Kirsi and Timo Wahlstén – sold their share of the company after the death of Paavo. Of the original three brothers in the company now only the second oldest brother, Ensio Wahlstén, was involved in the business. His daughter, Anne Wahlstén-Santonen, graduated from business school in 1986, and started working in the family company. Her husband Jukka Santonen joined the company in 1989 and Ensio’s son Markku Wahlstén joined in 1990. In 1988 Velj. Wahlsten was elected the company of the year in Lahti. Ensio moved to Helsinki to run a store at the racecourse in Vermo in 1994. Initially, the shop was made from an old mobile shop, but later a permanent store was built.
The beginning of the 21st century was a period of strong growth, and Wahlstén was particularly involved in exports, wholesale and product development. A special milestone was when the daughter of the veterinarian Antero Tupamäki, Riikka Lehtonen, contacted the company and inquired about hand-made riding equipment. Wahlstén was known for its hand-made trotting equipment, and Lehtonen hoped for the same quality in riding equipment. This was the beginning of the W-Profile product line. The first W-Profile products were developed together with Lehtonen. The series has grown and diversified year after year, and the product family has evolved according to the customers’ wishes. Today, the series is known as Wahlstén Premium. As Wahlstén’s people found other high-quality products, items such as supplementary nutrition, blankets and other equine supplies were added to the product range. In 2012, Velj. Wahlsten was elected the regional enterprise of the year.
When it became clear in the autumn of 2016 that the children of Anne and Jukka Santonen were not interested in continuing the company, it was time to think about the future of the company. In 2017, the Wahlstén family sold the company to the local multi-sector group Weststar Oy. Old values remained, new owners arrived.
Nowadays Wahlstén still has office premises, a warehouse, production and a factory store in Jokimaa Lahti. In production, Wahlstén's professional tailors make high-quality Wahlstén Premium products, and horse accessories are sent from the warehouse all over the world. Wahlstén has received a key flag as proof of Finnish work and quality.