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On Granlund’s 60th anniversary, the company keeps growing like an eager adolescent

Granlund has long been aware that the year 2020 was going to be special. The 60-year-old Granlund is still growing.

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Granlund celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. The Olof Granlund Engineer’s Office was founded in Helsinki in 1960. In 2020, the group employed over 1,000 people, and under their ownership the company places great value on everyone who has been part of the company’s longevity, including both its own people and customers and partners.

Customers are the cornerstone for business

Granlund holds a very special place in the heart of CEO Pekka Metsi. After graduating with a Master of Science in Engineering in 1988, Metsi has worked at Granlund on two occasions, totalling almost 20 years. Still, he falls behind many of Granlund’s long-term customers. “We have retained some of our customer relationships for almost 40 years, including ABB, Wärtsilä and several hospitals,” Metsi says. “Many decades and generations have come and gone in that time.”

Long-term customers have always been the cornerstone of Granlund’s operations. “From the very beginning, we at Granlund have understood that we shouldn't chase projects but customer relationships.”

According to Metsi, customer relationships are based on professional competence and mutual recognition on a personal level. With time, the partnerships have developed into wider cooperation. “It is the customers and partners that keep us refreshed even in our 60s!”

Investing in innovation from the beginning

Many positive things from history are still visible today. The will to improve is an essential part of the ideology. “We always plan a bit further when it comes to our customer and project work. We observe how the world changes and we think about ways we can adapt to the change,” Metsi explains.

Granlund’s operation started with design of technical building services, which is still one of the company’s cornerstones. The first leap in development happened in the middle of the recession in the 1990s. “When everyone else was quitting, we started development work with the help of external funding,” Metsi explains. “You could say that it was the first real wave of digitalisation, and it still is our spiritual cornerstone that we want to preserve.”

In the 1990s, it became clearer to Granlund that the designing stage was a very short-lived period in the lifecycle of a building. “We realised that we can help the property owner in the property maintenance as well,” says Metsi. 

We can help the property owner in the property maintenance as well.

Now we offer a broad spectrum of consulting services and software tools, such as Granlund Manager, alongside the design expertise in technical building services and renovation. “Now our expertise can be seen both in construction projects and existing properties.” 

Data improves user orientation

Listening to and understanding our customers is at the core of Granlund’s operations. “Many of the sectors where we do well are completely customer oriented,” Metsi emphasises. He presents hospitals as a good example. “All the needs in hospitals depend on how the care providers want to serve their patients.”

User orientation is also visible in other types of construction project, such as shopping centres and business parks. “We only know about a half of the users in the design and construction stage, when customer orientation is sufficiently generic and flexible.”

In the best-case scenario, all design is based on the needs of the users. According to Metsi, there is always room for improvement and new opportunities. “For example, digitalisation helps us process data more conveniently, which allows us to get more feedback from our customers and be able to manage the customer needs.” 

For example, digitalisation helps us process data more conveniently, which allows us to get more feedback from our customers and be able to manage the customer needs.

“Granlund employees are very efficient”

To this day, most of Granlund’s employees are engineers who are known for their technical rather than social skills. “We get down to business and make things happen. It is the actions that count,” Metsi points out. He sees Granlund as an automotive company where everyone takes responsibility on one's own initiative. “There is no need for strict and controlling supervision here.”

We have a broad spectrum of different personalities, because we genuinely have room for them. Not everybody is extroverted, but Metsi has noted that everyone is worth listening to. “There are true diamonds, even among the quietest types!”

Experience is valued and shared

Common connectors among the Granlund employees are the appreciation of experience and desire to share expertise. “We have been in this for quite some time, so our team has accumulated technical understanding from different decades and experience in even the trickiest situations,” says Metsi.

He believes that a degree in engineering, for example, provides a certain skillset, such as logical thinking, but most is learned through work. “In every project, the older generation passes some type of know-how down to the younger generation. In addition, we have a separate mentoring programme.”

Now that Metsi has spent 10 years at the forefront of the company, he plans to carry on the same way as the CEO. “I am only the third CEO in the company. I am not going to stay in this position forever. Within the next few years, Granlund will have new set of young leaders.”

Next year we will celebrate the 61-year-old Granlund

Due to the coronavirus, the best parts of the 60th anniversary celebrations will be saved for 2021. “This year we will only have a local, small-scale birthday celebration. We reminisce about the past and show appreciation to those who have made our journey possible.”

Granlund looks forward to the future with a curious mind. “We have grown into a company that consists of over 1,000 experts, and we plan to keep on growing,” says Metsi with a smirk. 

Comments from the old-timers 

The old-timers reminisce about their years at Granlund with joy. What first come to mind are the colleagues and interesting sites, as well as the company’s positive attitude towards development. 

When I look back, I remember the great community spirit and interesting sites. Back in the day, I started as an HVAC Designer and ended up in project development management. We worked in good spirit, had long coffee breaks, and it was nice to be a supervisor to my team.

Mika Reinikainen, over 30 years of experience at Granlund.

My career at Granlund developed from a project manager all the way to Deputy CEO. I made many fond memories during that time. I remember the company being very eager for development. There has always been a desire to drive forward both the company and the entire industry. 

Kari Kaleva, over 30 years of experience at Granlund.

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