Project & Construction Site

According to the site engineer Juho Pöyskö from Veljekset Kellola, the long contract periods in the Hanhikivi 1 construction site have enabled the recruitment of new personnel in the company. Photo by Toni Pallari

Hanhikivi 1 project brings more work in the home region

When time working at an ore mine proved short, Veljekset Kellola Oy from Raahe expanded its excavating business to cover the whole of Finland. The Hanhikivi 1 project has provided the family-owned company work in its home region.

The career of Juho Pöyskö from Raahe proceeded extremely fast in 2013. Pöyskö had recently been hired as an excavator operator in the local family business Veljekset Kellola when the Laivakangas ore mine was suddenly forced to start corporate debt restructuring. The future seemed promising, though: after all, the mine had boosted the company’s net sales to one million euros. Pöyskö, who was previously an entrepreneur himself, was trusted with the company’s tender calculations.

“Pretty soon we noticed that the business was working and our offers were getting accepted,” says Pöyskö, who is now a site engineer in the company.

Owners with their hands in the mud

Veljekset Kellola was established in 1998 as a two-man company. It was a partnership of two brothers: Marko Kellola, who did excavating, and Mikko Kellola, who did forest machine contracts. Juha Kellola, the third brother, joined the company in 2011. In addition to managing the growing company, the brothers are still involved in full-time work with machines.

That is exactly why Pöyskö was interviewed for this article: the brothers were too busy at their respective worksites.

“Many of our new employees and customers are surprised when hearing that the owners are still ready and willing to repair machines in the rain and mud, like everybody else. This is also a highly valued trait,” Pöyskö points out.

Due to the down-to-earth organization, employees can genuinely participate in the development of the company. Pöyskö is convinced that this is exactly why the company has prospered.

“Of course we can make much more realistic offers when the figures are not based on spreadsheets but on a grassroot level understanding of what kind of expertise and machines will be required for the contract.”

Construction site offers work all year round

Veljekset Kellola has managed to quintuple its net sales after the fall of the Laivakangas ore mine in Raahe. The current year has been no exception. Pöyskö notes that the growth was not easy to obtain, however.

“The excavating industry is highly competitive. We have around the same hourly rate as a car repair shop, but instead of a garage jack that costs EUR 5,000, we need an excavator that can cost up to EUR 250,000.”

Veljekset Kellola was one of the first companies to start work at the Hanhikivi peninsula. The company’s first contract was building a fence around the construction site area in 2015.

“At the Hanhikivi 1 construction site we have contracts for years to come and work all year round.”

Nowadays, Veljekset Kellola does some of its work based on orders directly from the main contractor Titan-2 and some for Titan-2’s subcontractors. The company employs three excavating teams, and the work focuses on the energy sector. One of the teams is always at the Hanhikivi 1 construction site, while another is building a wind farm in Pyhäjoki and the third is finishing an improvement of Nellimintie road in Ivalo. The company always has ten to fifteen men and the same number of machines working at the Hanhikivi peninsula.

“The excavating industry is clearly a contract-based industry, and most of the work is done in the summertime. However, at the Hanhikivi 1 construction site we have contracts for years to come and work all year round.”

Investments to support contracting in the whole of Finland

The long contract periods in the Hanhikivi 1 construction site have enabled investments in excavators and the recruitment of new personnel. Now, a new measurer, two new foremen, and one new occupational health and safety expert are also working at the construction site. Pöyskö says that the work requires special expertise, and the experience obtained has enabled the company to respond to more demanding invitations to tender.

In addition, the contracts on the Hanhikivi peninsula are commendably flexible.

“We can do more work when we have the capacity and use the employees from the Hanhikivi peninsula at our other worksites, if necessary.”

A career like Pöyskö’s where he has risen from an excavator operator to an excavation site engineer is common in the company – management is hardly ever recruited from outside the company; instead, operators are trained to become foremen.

“Anybody in the company can operate a machine if necessary. Personally, I last operated an excavator a week ago. I like working with a machine, and it also offers a break from the stressing work with all the calculations.”

“At the Hanhikivi 1 construction site we have contracts for years to come and work all year round.”

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