From a moving company to a move and logistics service company
Niemi® memories – Kalevi, Ilpo, Juha, Kai and Esa Niemi
Box rental service in a garage
Our operations began in 1981 when our father Kalevi Niemi bought a van and began doing small-scale moves on evenings and weekends. Soon he bought a hundred moving boxes that he then rented to customers from his 10 m2 garage in Eastern Hakkila, Vantaa. Our operations gained momentum when we, the four sons of the family, helped our father as much as we could.
In 1984 we bought a moving company with two vehicles and some of the brothers left their other jobs. In addition to moves, we transported Fazer’s freshly baked bread to stores, delivered packages and provided courier services. Later that year we moved to a new house in Hiekkaharju, Vantaa. It had a large purpose-built 40 m2 garage and storage facilities for our relocation business. At that point we decided to specialize in moves.
Orders in a blue notebook
Soon our sister Heidi also left her job and began working as our moving company’s first clerk. Our mother Aune received orders at home and wrote them down in a blue notebook. Usually we had two moves a day, but on busy days we sometimes had three gigs. We bought more boxes, increasing the quantity to 2,000.
In the beginning it was not our aim to grow our business into a massive company, we just wanted to have enough work for us and the opportunity to run our business relatively freely. Our growth happened almost by stealth and there were more and more customers. Suddenly we noticed that for the first time we needed other employees to help with the moves. Our work days and weeks kept becoming longer. For several years we worked without summer or winter holidays, usually six or seven days a week.
On our way to the first loading dock
In 1987 we moved to our first proper commercial facility in Maarinkunnas, Vantaa. However, we still had no loading docks and our vans were not equipped with liftgates. We loaded and unloaded boxes manually, irrespective of whether it was a hot summer day or freezing winter weather. Sometimes we manually loaded and unloaded over a thousand boxes in stacks of 15 during one day. The storage facilities, however, were great with approximately 300 square metres of floor space. The number of employees had also increased to 15.
In 1994 we moved to Karvaamokuja in Pitäjänmäki, Helsinki. We had some 25 permanent employees at that point. For the first time our company became a Helsinki-based moving company because until then we were based in Vantaa. Our facilities on Karvaamokuja included a loading dock as well as plenty of storage and office space, over 500 square metres in total, to cover our needs at the time. Our growth was further increased through the projects carried out as part of Finland’s EU Presidency in 1999.
Niemi® Moving It All!
In 2001 we updated our corporate image. We changed everything: the company’s logos, symbols and colours, forms, appearance of vehicles and uniforms – absolutely everything. We also launched our Finnish slogan which today is known by almost everyone: Niemi® muuttaa kaiken (“Niemi® Moving It All”).
The number of moving vans kept increasing every year. Our other operations were also growing at the same time and the facilities on Karvaamokuja began to feel too small. In 2002 we were finally able to move to our new facilities on Hankasuontie, with a lot more space than before. When we moved to Konala, we had on average 120 employees. Soon we were again running out of storage space, in particular, and we had to find additional facilities in the nearby areas. Once on Hankasuontie, we were finally able to acquire a proper washing system for moving boxes. It was the company’s biggest investment in equipment at the time. The equipment was ordered from the Netherlands and tailored to our needs.
We reached a significant milestone in 2003 when we opened our regional office in Tampere, the first one outside of the capital region. The Tampere region is the second largest market in Finland after the capital region. The establishment of the Tampere office was a step towards strengthening our position outside of the Helsinki region.
Extensive world championship collaboration
Niemi was an official partner of the 2003 Ice Hockey World Championship. We were responsible for building the press centres, assembling furniture and installing televisions and computers in the three host cities of Helsinki, Turku and Tampere. In addition, we were in charge of storing all machines, furniture and the organization’s equipment temporarily, setting up the merchandise stores and transporting the teams’ gear between Helsinki, Turku and Tampere. In Helsinki we also took care of the transportation and installation of furniture, refrigeration equipment and sinks in the food serving facilities. During the tournament, a total of 25,000 food and drink portions and their serving dishes were transported in our vehicles.
Niemi had 50-60 movers setting up and taking down the equipment. A core team of some twenty people as well as individuals on duty in each city worked throughout the tournament. We moved and installed some 400 televisions and 300 computers and assembled 3,500 chairs, 1,000 tables and 400 cabinets during the tournament. After the tournament we only had two days to remove all the equipment.
We were also an official partner of the 2005 World Championships in Athletics, held in Helsinki, and took care of the event logistics. We were responsible for various transportation, installation and storage duties, including the building of press centres, furniture assemblies, TV and computer installations, temporary storage of equipment and furniture as well as transportation of the teams’ gear.
We started working on the stadium and the athletes’ village around midsummer. We emptied 1,200 apartments in Otaniemi and furnished them for the athletes. We even ended up setting a new Finnish moving record: 600 apartments emptied in 18 hours! During the busiest days, 300 Niemi movers and 50 moving vans took part in building the games. Our crew worked incredibly hard. Many of them hardly got any sleep, especially during the night before the opening. During the games we were always ready to take on the tasks given, no matter how bizarre. We arranged cooling buckets for the athletes and picnic chairs for the officials, defied heights at the top of a crane attaching flags to the athletes’ village flagpoles, set up the fences along the walk and marathon routes etc.
Going global in a festive atmosphere
In 2005 we acquired Kuljetusliike V. Stenvall Oy, a company that had been doing international moves since 1938, and thus expanded our selection of services to cover international moves. In 2006 we were particularly busy with meeting arrangements related to Finland’s second EU Presidency. We were responsible for the logistics of some 120 meetings held in 20 different locations in Finland.
We celebrated our 25th anniversary in May 2006 by going on a “Box Trip” to the beautiful Island of "Gran Klippan". After the 25th anniversary celebrations we expanded into Turku where our local office opened its doors in July 2006.
Expanding even further
We kicked off our “northern conquest” in 2007 when we established our fourth location in Oulu. Our local office is centrally situated on Sisustajantori in the same building as the Isku furniture store.
During the same year we got involved in the European music scene as we took part in building the Eurovision Song Contest held in Helsinki in May 2007. We were responsible for building and furnishing the 500-seat press centre, dressing rooms and lounges, assisting duties related to the building of Hartwall Arena’s light, sound and video technology and stage as well as the acquisition of a temporary storage facility and storage-related tasks. It took two weeks to build everything at Hartwall Arena, while the event structures and equipment were taken down in a record time of 22 hours. At times over 100 Niemi employees were working the same shift.
The event was an overall success and we received praise from various parties. Talouselämä magazine’s article with an impressive headline “Muuttopalvelu Niemi wins the Eurovision” was quite accurate, too.
The next year, in 2008, we expanded into the Jyväskylä region, making our versatile relocation and logistics services available to companies and consumers in Central Finland.
In 2009 we became a member of the Federation of European Movers Associations (FEDEMAC). By joining the federation we were able to expand our partner network in continental Europe considerably. FEDEMAC represents approx. 4,000 moving companies in 25 European countries. Niemi is the first and only Finnish member of FEDEMAC.
In the same year, Niemi was also accepted as a member of the International Association of Movers (IAM). IAM represents more than 2,000 moving and forwarding companies in 165 countries.
In 2010 we expanded into Lahti. During the same year Niemi became an official logistics partner of the Finnish Fair Corporation in Helsinki and we also opened our own location in connection with the Expo & Convention Centre. There we offer exhibitors a wide range of expo logistics services from the reception of small-scale shipments to lifting of heavy equipment and hauling to a stand.
In 2010 we decided to do our share in protecting the Baltic Sea and made a commitment to the Baltic Sea Action Group (BSAG). BSAG is a foundation that gathers commitments from all kinds of organizations to help the Baltic Sea. As part of our BSAG commitment, we provided WWF and the rescue department with one container per year between 2010 and 2012. In practice the containers were used for storing oil combat equipment intended for the WWF volunteers. Our commitment also included transporting the containers to an accident/training site as well as setting up and taking down a rescue camp. The commitment was a huge leap forward in terms of Finland’s oil spill response system and it was welcomed with excitement by both WWF and the rescue department. The containers are still being used by BSAG.
Moving Service Niemi becomes Niemi Services
We started our 30th anniversary year in a cultural atmosphere. We took part in Turku’s European Capital of Culture 2011 project which consisted of 200-250 different cultural events, ranging from the massive opening ceremony and concerts to smaller productions. We were responsible for the logistics planning, scheduling, tendering of purchases as well as coordination together with the personnel of the Turku 2011 Foundation.
We celebrated our 30th anniversary on two nights, the 3rd and 4th of February, at Cable Factory in Helsinki. On both nights we had about 400 guests who had an opportunity to enjoy some really rare treats: exceptional special guests, interesting speeches, gourmet food and fantastic music.
Our guests of honour on the first night were former President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari and Mrs. Eeva Ahtisaari. The other guests were our long-term customers and friends as well as Niemi employees. Both nights culminated in Riku Niemi Orchestra’s musical spectacle with excellent vocalists Maria Ylipää, Sakari Kuosmanen and Jorma Kääriäinen – and the staff night surprise artist was Pauli “Pate” Mustajärvi.
The anniversary event also offered the perfect opportunity to announce our new name, Niemi Palvelut Oy, in front of a prestigious audience. The reason for the name change was to match it with the contents of our operations as they had expanded over the decades. We had, after all, grown from a small company established in 1981 into Finland’s largest moving service company and expanded our services to cover not only residential, corporate and international moves but also events, logistics and expo services.
Visibility in various forums
In 2012 we gained a great deal of media exposure. Our “own” TV show Muuttajat (“Movers”) started on Jim and Niemi employees as well as singer and actor Sakari Kuosmanen, one of the “Niemi ambassadors”, visited MTV3’s Itämeri (“Baltic Sea”) show to tell about Niemi’s responsibility and BSAG commitment.
During the same year we concluded a long-term collaboration deal based on which the restaurant and press centre next to Hartwall Arena was named the Niemi Center and we also established the Niemi Heavy business area to serve heavy lifting, transfer and transportation projects.
In 2012 and 2013 we were also involved in Finland’s biggest sports events – the Ice Hockey World Championships (2012 & 2013) and European Athletics Championships (2012). In recent years we have often taken part in demanding event service projects as well as major public and professional event arrangements where we have taken care of various transportation, installation and building duties, including the building of press centres and VIP facilities, furniture assemblies, TV and computer installations as well as transportation of team gear – and these are among the duties we also carried out for the 2012 and 2013 games.
Niemi recycling system – no landfill waste!
The Waste Act imposes an obligation to comply with the order of priority, according to which first priority shall be given to reducing the quantity and harmfulness of waste generated. If, however, waste is generated, the waste holder shall first and foremost prepare the waste for reuse or secondarily recycle it. If recycling is not possible, the waste holder shall recover the waste in other ways, including recovery as energy. If recovery is not possible, disposal of the waste shall be carried out.
We care about our environment and in 2013 we proudly introduced our own recycling system and equipment. Our recycling system allows us to sort and recycle all items responsibly and appropriately, in accordance with the waste management regulations. Our customers’ unwanted household appliances, furniture, electronics and other items are handled with respect for the environment and they will either be reused or recovered as energy or recycled material through sorting and recycling, thus minimizing the amount of landfill waste.
Collaboration with Helsinki Metropolitan Area Reuse Centre and New Children’s Hospital
We value our customers, personnel and the surrounding world. At the beginning of 2014 we concluded a collaboration agreement with the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Reuse Centre. The Reuse Centre uses the proceeds from the items donated by our customers to maintain its operations and to provide environmental consultation and training in the capital region. This allows us to do our share in helping unemployed individuals find employment opportunities while reducing the burden on the environment.
Becoming an honorary donor for the New Children’s Hospital 2017 project was one of our highlights in 2014. As an honorary donor we agree to donate 100,000 euros to the project by 2017.
Niemi’s first ever share issue
In 2014 we launched the first share issue in the history of the company. Through the share issue, 40 percent of the company’s shares were sold to employees and the remaining 60 percent was divided equally between the old owners, the three Niemi brothers. The aim of the rare family company share issue was to secure our Finnish ownership and to increase further our personnel’s strong commitment.
Partner of the Stadium Foundation
We have always been enthusiastic about building the history of Finnish sports and culture. We turned over a new leaf in 2014 when we concluded a 4-year collaboration agreement with the Stadium Foundation regarding the renovation of the Helsinki Olympic Stadium. The Olympic Stadium will be fully refurbished between 2016 and 2018. Through this collaboration we will serve as one of the partners in the renovation project, providing logistical services to the Stadium Foundation’s other partners.
In July 2015, the international gymnastics event Gymnaestrada brought 21,000 participants from over 50 countries to Helsinki. We took part in building the largest event ever to be held in Finland in terms of the number of international participants. In addition to various transportation and hauling tasks, we also built, for example, the Gymnaestrada stands at the Expo & Convention Centre.
Finnish work – Key Flag Symbol
The Association for Finnish Work accepted Niemi Palvelut Oy as a member in 2015. At the same time we were granted the right to use the Key Flag Symbol. The symbol indicates that the product or service has been produced in Finland and provides employment in Finland.
There are now over 1,000 Niemi employees and over 100,000 moving boxes!
In the late summer of 2015 there were over a thousand Niemi employees, including all full-time and part-time employees as well as those summoned to work whenever necessary. A small Vantaa-based company has grown into a major business and remarkable employer in recession-stricken Finland.