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Soaring Under the Radar: Karin Godenhielm

As it celebrates its 50th anniversary, Dinolift’s signature product, the DINO, continues to go about its business with minimal fanfare but maximum success, explains Managing Director Karin Godenhielm.

While a small, exclusive club of smartly designed products have captured the public’s imagination during the last half-century – think the Apple iPhone or Nike Air Jordan sneakers – other less headline-grabbing but equally as emblematic products have flown under the pop-culture radar.

Enter the DINO mobile elevating work platform, or MEWP for short, which for 50 years has remained the undisputed and unassuming granddad of its genre, ensuring safety and efficiency for generations of people who do their best work off the ground.

And just as successive Apple and Nike releases have blazed stylistic and technological trails, constantly refreshing and refining models, so the DINO has evolved in its own distinct manner under the umbrella of Finnish company, Dinolift.

"The first ones were push-around lifts that only took you a few meters up," says Dinolift’s Managing Director and Finnish Co-Owner, Karin Godenhielm (the range now covers up to 28 meters). "And they were developed, like many machines were in the ’70s, because somebody had a need to work at height and then made a machine themselves."

In Dinolift’s case, that somebody was innovator and then-company Owner, Mauno Kurppa, who after successfully hawking the original DINO locally from 1974, expanded further into the Nordic region – laying the groundwork for the brand’s modern-day ascendency.

A Family Identity

Today, Dinolift supplies MEWPs to more than 40 countries, with the model range covering everything from trailer-mounted telescopic lifts, to vehicle-mounted and sustainable lightweight battery-operated lifts.

"Dinolift has always been a big family and family-owned," Godenhielm says proudly. "We are a very tight-knit organization where people are well taken care of. When you do something, you do it with a strong sense of responsibility and you trust people around you. You are open with communication."

"All such values that are very strong today have always been there and have been in the foundations of the company."

"We were able to establish that there is value in working our way."

Perhaps it’s the relatively small size of the business (around 200 employees at its base in Loimaa, southwestern Finland), or perhaps it’s the fact that the company has only ever been in the hands of two families; either way, Dinolift’s core identity refuses to be swayed by the vagaries of time, a stance underscored during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

"We were able to establish that there is value in working our way," Godenhielm says. "Over the years, very often we have had to defend our strategy of having a lot of in-house production. But we saw that there is a value in managing the whole chain of production yourself.

"Of course, we need to improve efficiency all the time, and we are investing in that, but we know that we are on the right path and we will continue to strengthen that."

A Diverse Mix

Talking to Godenhielm, it’s clear that Dinolift’s ambitious but humble modus operandi is mirrored in her own leadership style.

"One of the most important things is being authentic; being yourself, knowing yourself, knowing your strengths but also knowing your weaknesses," she admits. "Because being a leader, it’s just being yourself in all situations, being honest when you know something but also being honest when you don’t know something."


When she’s not driving sustainability and environmental goals, or shoring up relationships with partners and suppliers (notables include operating data platform, Trackunit, and distributors, Rotator), Godenhielm has been reveling in her role as the first female President of the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF), a non-profit organization promoting safety and efficiency across the industry, with a view to implementing safety standards, influencing legislation and, not least, upping inclusion levels.

"We need to reach outside our industry to get people with new types of skills and get a diversity of people into our business," Godenhielm says, referencing IPAF’s recent Women in Powered Access Initiative.

"We have so much to learn, and I think it’s going to be from people with different educational and cultural backgrounds and from different generations. They will be adding to the mix and bringing different perspectives."

Future Proof

While tech acolytes camp outside Apple stores for the latest gizmos, and Air Jordan collaborations with Dior fetch up to US$30,000, Dinolift’s latest advancement is making waves away from the mainstream current – except this device isn’t a tangible object as such.

Described by Godenhielm as a significant contributor in the company’s strategy going forward, MyDINO is a telematics service that feeds customers with real-time machine data about upcoming maintenance needs and possible error situations, and insights into their DINO’s efficiency.

"We are not a huge company with huge resources. We have to focus our investments in R&D, and we always make decisions on what to do first and what to do next."

"We are always futureproofing the business and making sure we are relevant for customers, and that we have the products and services that customers and their customers benefit from," Godenhielm says.

"We are not a huge company with huge resources. We have to focus our investments in R&D, and we always make decisions on what to do first and what to do next, listening closely to customers."

As Dinolift looks to empower staff across the entire company (white and blue collar alike) with growth-boosting AI training, they look set for another 50 years of ensuring safety and efficiency.

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