”Markusa’s contract” it says on the door to the old barn in red and black. Once cows lived here, but nowadays machines can be seen instead: angular monsters that can cut, mill, and crack tin.
Janke Johansson, or Markus Jan-Erik, which is his Christian name, belongs to a long line of Eriks and Johans that have replaced each other on the ranch throughout centuries. The old manor house where he was brought up stands empty today, Janke lives in the renovated bakehouse with his fiancée. The windows are full of green plants, and once in a while one of their four cats can be seen: Viktor, Kollman, Lilla Grå, and Mårran. But it is in the office of the tin-smith workshop that he receives us, with a sign on the door that says CUSTOM’S
–The animals disappeared with the old ones. I had to find other work when I got older, and that was tin-smithing, he says.
– Luckily I am good at doing a little bit of everything, and I like the job. It’s creative, but also concrete, and of course it’s nice to see people satisfied with the result. We are too few here, we can’t do just one thing per person. We have to do a good job so the customers want to come back. It is especially satisfying to make something for people who are not from here..
– Many Swedes have cottages here. They are used to having three kinds of things in the department stores to choose from. Here they can tell us exactly what they want and watch it being done. That is appreciated. Window-ledges to the cottage or a stovepipe hat Janke or his brother fix in no time. Bigger jobs like roofing or repairing an old stovepipe take, of course, more time.
– Business is going well, and it’s a proper size. If we take on more jobs we need more people, and if we want to expand it must be closer to Mariehamn. But I want to live and work here. I feel good in Eckerö. People here are always doing something and trying on new things, and the ferry makes us more mobile than other municipalities. To work from home has its ups and downs.
– It’s nice to be able to fix on things when you feel like it and be the boss of your own time. But people tend to call whenever and it happens that I end up cracking tin on a Sunday. Not that I suffer from it, otherwise I would probably build something for myself instead. If I need a break I go to my cottage. Not that it’s far away, but I can relax there.