At the Top of Her Game: Cora Jokinen Leads Company behind Popular Aussie Locker and Supports Sport She Loves | MillerWelds

At the Top of Her Game: Cora Jokinen Leads Company behind Popular Aussie Locker and Supports Sport She Loves

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Cora Jokinen turned her hobby into a career — going from rock crawling enthusiast to owner and president of a company that makes a popular locking differential for the sport.

Cora Jokinen turned her hobby into a career — going from rock crawling enthusiast to owner and president of a company that makes a popular locking differential for the sport.

Jokinen has been involved with off-road racing for many years and was a sponsored rock crawler for Aussie Locker, made by the company Torq-Masters Industries, Inc. In 2014, Torq-Masters owner and founder Bill Cole chose to retire — for the third time — at age 70. Cole approached Jokinen about buying Torq-Masters, due to Jokinen’s long-standing relationship with her mentor Cole and his company.

Jokinen took over and her new role is a natural fit. With a background in design, a master’s degree in architecture and a lot of CAD experience, Jokinen is helping the company create innovative new products. She has three patents pending, a few trademarks and new locker designs in the works.

“It’s really been a neat transition for me to go into the engineering side and design side,” Jokinen says.

The popular Aussie Locker is a locking differential that replaces the spider gears in an axle. The product is affordable and easy to install — and it’s the only one made in the United States using 9310 hardened alloy steel.

“Our customer is typically building their first or second vehicle, and this is a really easy and approachable locker to install,” Jokinen says. “You can install it in your driveway.”

Despite her transition into business ownership and product design, Jokinen still makes time for the hobby she loves.

Prepping for King of the Hammers

Jokinen met her husband, Erik Jokinen, when she was president of the local 4x4 club. They started rock crawling together, which eventually transitioned to racing. It’s a shared interest that continues to bring the couple together.

They’re currently building a race Jeep for the 2016 Every Man Challenge at the California-based King of the Hammers ultra-race.

“The King of the Hammers is one of the hardest off-road races in the world. It combines fast-speed desert racing with hard-core rock crawling,” Jokinen says. “And we can’t stop. We can’t get out, we can’t winch, we just need to power through everything.”  

That tough challenge requires them to build something reliable to get them from start to finish. Cora and Erik have stripped their Jeep of all its stock components — suspension, axles, steering and cooling systems. They’re upgrading the motor, axles and the full suspension system. They’re also building a custom roll cage that meets Ultra4 racing specifications.

“You can’t buy this off the shelf, so it’s going to take a lot of time and effort for the two of us to bend this up for our maximum safety,” Jokinen says.

To prep for installing the new suspension system, they cut off the existing bracketry using a Spectrum® 375 X-TREME™ plasma cutter from Miller Electric Mfg. Co. To complete the custom fabrication work the project requires, they’re using a Millermatic® 211 MIG welder.

“We’re super excited. We have a ton of work to do,” Jokinen says. “I want to run my new lockers we’re coming out with to prove how hard-core they are in our big 1-ton axles.”

Love of welding

Jokinen discovered her passion for welding — and for Miller equipment — after she took a beginners’ class at Mahany Welding Supply in upstate New York.

“As I got more serious about off-roading, I wanted to be able to design and build my own parts,” Jokinen says. “They had a really exciting course where you can take a weekend MIG class, and it’s designed for the average Joe. They teach you the basics, and then they get a little more advanced. During these classes is where I really found my passion for welding.”

After that first course she went out and bought her first Miller® welder and has since completed several more welding classes at Mahany — and attended some fun offerings there including a glass-making bachelorette party and date-night project builds with her husband. The supply store not only sells welding products and supplies, but also offers numerous classes in MIG, TIG and stick welding, plasma cutting, metal sculpture and other areas.

Mahany uses and sells Miller, and Jokinen felt comfortable with the brand and the quality it offers. In addition to her Spectrum and Millermatic 211, Jokinen uses a Multimatic™ 200 and loves the Miller line of women’s welding protection, which offers her a comfortable fit.

At the top of her game

Hobby and career have merged for Jokinen, as she continues to enjoy off-road racing and leads a company dedicated to the same field. Miller is excited to cheer on Cora and Erik as they continue to navigate the track — and all of life’s courses — in 2016.

“I’ve made this transition into company ownership in the field that I love that used to be my hobby. This doesn’t feel like work anymore,” Jokinen says. “This is my passion. We love what we can do, we love what we can build together.”