John Baulch visited the company’s Finnish home to find out what makes the company tick and how it’s established itself as a success in games and toys.
Tactic Games is among a handful of successful European toy companies that has resisted the temptation to move its production facilities over to the far East. Based in the small industrial town of Pori in Finland, Tactic’s annual turnover exceeds 50m Euros. The company employs over 200 people during peak season and manufactures five million board games each year.
Tactic has always been a family owned operation: started by the father of current chairman of the board Markku Heljakka. In 1967 the original operation – Nelostuote – started life in a garage, where its first range was manufactured. The company’s inaugural game was Kimble, which bore more than a passing resemblance to the hit game Frustration. An American relative brought the game over to Finland during a visit, and the rest – as they say – is history.
Back in the late sixties, games sales were heavily focused around the festive period. The company soon realised that it would be impossible to survive based on one game which sold at Christmas, so it set about expanding the games range, while also introducing other product ranges which would sell all year round. The company grew to the point where it was able to relocate from the garage into a factory. Subsequently it began to print its own packaging – the company still has connections to the screen-printing business to this day.
From its inception, the company looked to the international market; the original packaging was in dual Finnish and Swedish language, and a major Swedish department store chain was one of its first customers. By the mid-1980s, the company was exporting to other key Nordic territories. The big step change came in 1995, with the creation of the more internationally-friendly brand name Tactic Games. It subsequently began to establish overseas subsidiaries – Sweden was first, followed by Norway. The company now operates subsidiaries in UK, USA, France, Netherlands, Poland and each individual Nordic market, while it also has an established network of distribution partners across the globe. Overall, Tactic now exports to over 70 different countries.
Read the full article in Toy World’s October issue, available to access online here.