Erno Väyrynen is a stoic man of few words, but these words carry more weight than you can measure. Finnish people in general are humble and reserved. Words aren’t wasted by most in Finland. Conversations are calculated with reason and purpose. If a Finn is speaking to you, you better listen up.
For nearly five years, Erno split his time between living in Finland and in southern California where he was the lead architect in what has become Discmania USA. Living in a world very different than home, Erno put every ounce of himself into Discmania’s US based operations and turned it into the success that it is today. He did this without wanting the credit, the spotlight, or recognition. He was not only a leader. He went beyond the level of friend and became family with anyone he came in touch with.
It is said that you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone. While we at Discmania have always appreciated all the efforts Erno has put into the company, we really felt things this past winter. As we moved our US operations to Colorado, Erno made the decision to move full-time back to his home country. This was a move that we supported 100% and we were happy to have him spend more time with loved ones. As our transition to Colorado began, we quickly realized that Erno’s impact on this company was greater than we ever realized.
Quite simply, Erno Väyrynen is the heart and soul of Discmania.
This might seem that Erno left the company, but that is the furthest thing from the truth. As he transitioned into his new role based in Finland, we realized we just miss the guy back in the US. From those who worked with him at the warehouse to those who work remotely around the country, we all had to adjust to not seeing one of our family members on a regular basis. Skype calls and text messages only go so far.
Today is one of those days that we do get to spend time with Erno and while he avoided the spotlight for a while, the time was right to finally let others around the disc golf community know just how much we love this guy.
Uncle Erno. Uncle Ernie. Uncle E.
That’s what we called him half the time, anyway. He made sure that everyone strived to create a healthy balance between the workplace and making time for a social life and relaxation. For a growing company getting its feet off the ground, that can be rather difficult, but one can hope. Erno carried about his day standing at his desk quietly, yet typing furiously with small horses for fingers, as one of our employees, Kevin, puts it. He’d make time for some quick exercise periodically throughout the day, made sure his blood was replenished to at least 70% coffee, and get back to it. We’d all leave for the day and he would stay, working late into the night.
We asked a few staff members of Discmania to give their thoughts to Erno and how he has impacted them.
Chris Brubeck, Online Sales Manager: “Erno poured himself into this US office. Everything, he gave everything he had. Erno taught us so many valuable lessons in life and I know every person that has had the pleasure of spending time with E is so much better for it. I know I am. He cares deeply about his friends and coworkers, he listens, he learns, he loves our American slang words such as ‘bro’ or ‘sick,’ he will do anything for you without ever asking for something in return. He’s family.”
Austin Montgomery, Director of Operations: “Erno is one of the most caring individuals I have ever met. He is a great leader and really knows how to motivate employees. I have never met a harder worker, as he sacrificed most of his personal life to make Discmania the best it could be. We would definitely not be where we are without him. I learned a lot from him.”
Jussi Meresmaa, CEO: “Working with Erno has taught me to value a trust even more. Erno is a friend that I would trust him on my life. There are no big or small task that Erno would manage or handle. Always.”
Dana Vicich: “Erno Väyrynen. Also known to respond to Ernie, Easy E, Uncle E, Ernesto…Whatever name he’s going by, Erno is one of my favorite people. Ernie has all the great qualities you want out of a fellow coworker. He’s unbelievably hard working, dedicated, smart and funny. A true ‘lead by example’ kind of guy. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for ol’ Easy E."
Avery Jenkins, Team Manager: “I personally have learned a lot from Erno about friendship, business and life as he strongly implements punctuality, persistence and passion into everything that he does!”
Hopefully you get a chance to work along side Erno one day soon. If you’re not able to make a round of disc golf, grab him a cup of coffee, or an ice cream bar, and he’ll be there.
Erno, on behalf of all of Discmania USA, thank you for being you.