The year 2016 is an anniversary for Sito. Four decades is a major milestone to reach. It is cause for celebration and pride in an industry in which consultancy firms are constantly being born, but also disappearing with little fanfare, merging with the competition or moving abroad.
Suomalainen Insinööritoimisto SITO Oy arose from the bankruptcy of the Finnish unit of a largish Swedish consultancy firm in 1976. Eight of the unit’s young engineers had the courage to invest in their own design office, since the order books were full and work had already been begun for the summer. From these modest beginnings, the company experienced fairly rapid growth through significant road projects and acquiring expertise in entirely new fields of design and consultancy.
At present, Sito has 41 partners and a little over 500 employees.
Unchanged at heart
Even though Sito has grown and expanded from its beginnings as a consultancy firm focused on road design, at its core it remains true to the original intent of its founders. One of the cornerstones of the Sito spirit is entrepreneurship that, according to Managing Director Tapio Puurunen and Deputy Managing Director Kimmo Anttalainen, manifests in aspects such as the partnership program.
“Partnership is not just a formal title. Rather, it demonstrates a willingness to commit to the company”, says Tapio Puurunen.
According to Kimmo Anttalainen, Sito is still defined by the light organization and lack of bureaucracy characteristic of small consultancy firms. Everyone is encouraged to take initiative. “Sito employees are in active and constant contact with customers to find out what is really needed in the field.”
Looking forward to a bright future
This type of agility is necessary. The world, infrastructure and construction have changed a great deal over the decades. Of course, road building still means building roads, but the amount of information required to complete a project has grown out of all proportion over the last few decades. Building information modeling, or BIM, has created an entirely new set of tools for the management of infrastructure over its entire life span. At the same time, our client organizations have been slimmed down and the need to purchase various services from outside is constantly growing.
And now Sito also offers services that would have been inconceivable 40 years ago – at least in the current scale.
It is difficult to make Tapio Puurunen and Kimmo Anttalainen focus on the significance of Sito’s anniversary, so excited are they about the future. And indeed, it does look both exciting and promising.
Sito’s operations used to rely on road projects. In the company’s early years, the payroll was earned from a road-building project in Yemen. Today, Kimmo Anttalainen says that the company relies on the variety of regional development projects. Sito is a sought-after partner for such projects since it is able to provide the required expertise for all stages from geographical planning to structural and architectural design and from traffic design to environmental planning.
“It is nice to be wanted,” says Kimmo Anttalainen with an air of satisfaction. Sito is currently involved in major regional development projects such as Tripla, Red, the Tapiola development project and the expansion project of Helsinki Airport.
Services on the rise
Sito has invested heavily in the development of digital services in recent years. For decades, Sito has been known for its design and consultancy work, but Tapio Puurunen says that the share of services, and digital services in particular, will increase significantly in the near future. “Digital services will make operations in the infrastructure and construction industries significantly easier and free up resources for more productive use”, he points out.
At the beginning of the year, Sito updated its management system to better meet customer needs. After all, a good consultant must be able to predict the future needs of customers and develop solutions for them, often before the customer has even realized the problem. This calls for a management system that encourages curiosity, enthusiasm, activity, seeking new paths and staying at the cutting edge of technology. The new system has separated design and consultancy, digital and productized services, and environmental solutions into their own business areas.
Busy year ahead
The current year will be sure to keep every Sito employee busy. Sito has already made provisions for the fact that, in a few years, all design will be based on BIM. A model has been created for the training of staff and used for familiarizing students with the infrastructure applications of building information modeling. Further plans have also been hatched at the company.
MaaS (Mobility as a Service) seems to be taking off, and Sito has high hopes in this field.
“In the next few years, we want to be the MaaS operator of more than one locality in Finland, mostly in sparsely populated areas, and take the service to an international scale as well,” says Tapio Puurunen.
Sito now has a presence in more Finnish cities than ever. With the opening of the new Lahti office
in the beginning of March, the number of Finnish offices will rise to 11. Sito will also expand into Scandinavia with a subsidiary that will be established in the spring. “We aim to be a major player in Scandinavia as soon as next year. This means several dozens of employees working regularly in international duties,” Tapio Puurunen concludes.
Text: Dakota Lavento