Johan Henrik, alias Janne Marttiini was born on 2.5.1893 in Sodankylä, the Kierinki village. His upbringing in a religious family provided a firm foundation for his whole life. Janne Marttiini was lively child. As a youngster he was highly ambitious and hardworking. Even though he missed the elementary school, which at the time was not unusual due to the long journeys involved, he learned the alphabet and the Bible. "Truth, honour and humility" were the three important words to guide him through his life.
Janne had his first job at the age of 16 as an apprentice of a blacksmith in the Kierinki village. After the apprenticeship years he founded his own modest smithy in Rovaniemi in 1923. The smithy made sickles, scythes, various iron parts for log sledges and other utility articles and tools of that era. Janne Marttiini's reputation reached to Swedish and Norwegian Lapland. He developed his own knife model, the Lynx knife, which he sold on his sales and preaching trips.
In 1928 Janne Marttiini founded the J. Marttiini Knife Factory in Vartiokatu Street in Rovaniemi. Besides other products, the factory started to produce knives. Janne Marttiini himself sold his knives in the area around Rovaniemi, thereby providing the living for his large family. At the agricultural exhibition of Vyborg in 1932 Janne demonstrated the sharpness of his Lynx knife by shaving people’s neck hair! In addition to the 1st prize, he received a notable order from the Vyborg Cooperative Store. The demand for the knife increased together with the number of employees. In 1940 a new factory building was completed in the market town of Rovaniemi, but was partially destroyed in the war in 1944. The building was nevertheless repaired immediately after the war and the manufacturing continued even more efficiently.
Janne Marttiini was the trailblazer of his own time: the export trade was highly unusual for the period, but Janne was an unprejudiced tradesman and product developer. The competitive high-quality knives were in demand and in 1952 Janne went on his first trip to the United States. Janne Marttiini was also recognized around the world as a preacher. He published the books Gems from the Holy Book, Mercy and Truth, The Road to Happiness, Wake-up Call and the Lesson in Salvation. The Road to Happiness has also been translated into English.
Janne Marttiini died at the age of 77 in 1970. He concluded his final knife deal only two weeks before his death.
After Janne retired in 1952, his son Toivo Marttiini took over the management of the company. Toivo Marttiini's emphasis was on personal client relationships in export marketing. With individual products designed for specific customers, Marttiini were once again ahead of their time. Enquiries from the United States about the production of filleting knives led to an extensive export trade in the 1960s. The J. Marttiini Knife Factory received the highly esteemed Exports Award from the President of the Republic in acknowledgment of "exceptionally outstanding achievements in export" in 1967. The resourcefulness of Marttiini continues to be based on powerful product development and customer-oriented marketing.
In 1969 a new factory building was completed in the industrial area of Rovaniemi, and the company is still operating there now. The factory building was expanded a few years later. In 1970 the millionth filleting knife was produced, by 2009 more than 40 million of the knives had been produced.
The younger brother of Toivo, Lauri Marttiini, took over the management of the company in 1975. He was the leading figure of the business for three decades. Currently, the Managing Director of Marttiini is Päivi Ohvo, who was elected to this position in 2001.
In 2005 the Marttiini family sold the whole share capital of Marttiini Oy to the Rapala VMC Group. Rapala had been the major cooperative partner of Marttiini for many years, and after the deal Marttiini naturally continued with the production of knives in Rovaniemi as before. While the large fishing tackle group provided Marttiini with a stronger global distribution network, the Rapala Group obtained a new Finnish quality brand to add to its already large brand portfolio.
The circle became complete in the jubilee year for Marttiini in 1998, when the Old Factory on Vartiokatu Street was renovated and opened to the public at the Rovaniemi Housing Fair. The renovation ensured that the original style and the facade of the building were maintained. The Lapland County Museum has classified it as an A+ category building due its historical, architectural history and artistic significance. During the spring this valuable functionalist-style factory building was completed with office rooms, residential premises and a Marttiini factory outlet, which is still operating in the building.
Marttiini has always celebrated special occasions by making a knife. Finnish Marttiini knives have traditionally been given to Olympic Game athletes for outstanding performances, as so-called “stamina knives”.
The Finland Knife designed for the celebration of 80 years of the Finnish independence was the most popular knife model in 1997. All the 6,500 Finland Knives were numbered. This practical knife with the curly birch handle decorated with bronze ferrules is Finnish applied art at its best. In the blue enamel of the bronze top ferrule shimmers the Finnish heraldic lion, and the same theme is repeated on the sheath. The President Martti Ahtisaari was presented with knife number 0001/97, which had exceptional silver ferrules. The Latvian President Ulmanis also wears on his belt a silver Finland Knife, which was presented to him while the Presidents Ahtisaari and Ulmanis visited the Marttiini Factory in November 1997.
For its own jubilee year in 1998 Marttiini naturally celebrated by making a knife. The Jubilee Year Marttiini Knife was a numbered Jubilee Lynx: a special knife immortalized with bronze ferrules and a sheath decorated with the jubilee year insignia.
In 2008 when Marttiini celebrated 80 years of its existence, it was the turn of the President Tarja Halonen to receive the jubilee year knife number one.