The RE Group is a Finnish-owned design company. We currently employ 60 experts spanning different sectors, and as a company, we offer our customers expert services backed up by 25 years of experience. The RE Group is involved at every lifecycle stage of the project, from exploring business requirements to handing over the keys.
Our aim is to be a can-do, solutions-oriented partner.
Our values are:
Reliable — Responsible — Capable — Healthy
The RE group’s history
An elite background with Valio
RE-Suunnittelu Oy’s roots can be found in the technical department of Finnish dairy giant Valio, and before that, Valio’s technical guidance unit, which was established in 1922.
Valio’s technical department was incorporated to become Valiotekniikka Oy in 1987, which proved to be the start of development that would go on to pave the way for RE-Suunnittelu Oy to become the multisectoral design agency it is today.
As Valio’s technical department only designed production plants for Valio and its owner cooperatives, immediately after it was established Valiotekniikka Oy began seeking new customers beyond the sphere of Valio’s cooperative dairies. Naturally, the first of these were other dairy companies and operators in the food industry.
In the early 1990s Valiotekniikka had 150 employees.
Its design areas were:
- process design
- piping and layout design
- process automation
- packaging and materials processing
- architectural design
- HVAC design
- electrical design
- refrigeration design.
A major depression hit Finland in the early 1990s, and this was also reflected in Valiotekniikka’s order book.
RE-Suunnittelu Oy’s founders.
In early 1994 Valio decided to close down Valiotekniikka’s operations. After various rounds of negotiations, Valio and three employees from Valiotekniikka Oy’s construction department – Kari Pessa, Osmo Syrjänen and Martti Heikkinen – agreed on a deal, whereby the operations of the construction department would be transferred to a new company founded by Pessa, Syrjänen and Heikkinen, which was established on 1 April 1994. To begin with, the company was known as Suomen Rakennus- ja Energiatekniikka, however this was changed to RE-Suunnittelu Oy in 1997. A total of 18 employees, in addition to the founders, transferred to the new company.
Our offices were located in Pitäjänmäki in Helsinki, at Valimotie 23 until 2010, when we moved to Sentnerikuja in Lassila.
RE-Suunnittelu Oy’s design areas were:
- architectural design
- HVAC design
- electrical design
- refrigeration plant design
- developer services.
Kari Pessa was chosen to chair the company’s board, with Martti Heikkinen as managing director.
As the new company launched its operations, Finland was in the midst of a deep depression and industry investment was sidelined. RE-Suunnittelu’s order book was small, stretching only a few weeks.
In the first full year of operations, 1995, the company’s turnover was a little over a million euros. The company was forced to make staff layoffs, and at its smallest, it employed just 14 people. However, no one wanted to throw in the towel on the company.
The number of staff and turnover remained steady at the same levels until 1997. It wasn’t until 1998 that the company saw its first year of clear growth, with turnover of around two million euros and a staff of 31.
The company then saw moderate growth until 2001. In 2002 the company experienced its next big leap, with a turnover of €2.6 million and a staff of 38.
Growth continued steadily, reaching a little over €5 million and a staff of 55 in 2013.
The first of the founder members, Kari Pessa, relinquished his ownership in 2009, with the company buying back his shares. The shares were annulled and RE-Suunnittelu Oy’s ownership was split evenly between Osmo Syrjänen and Martti Heikkinen.
In 2011, ownership changes were made to the company with Juhani Takkinen, Risto Rajala, Timo Puputti and Ari Mäki-Marttunen becoming shareholders in RE-suunnittelu Oy.
In 2015 the company bought back Osmo Syrjänen’s shares, and at the same time Mikko Liikanen became a shareholder in RE-Suunnittelu.
In the spring of 2014, RE-Suunnittelu Oy took its next big step by purchasing a 75% stake in engineering firm Insinööritoimisto Kimmo Kaitila Oy, whose operations were focused on structural design.
Kimmo Kaitila M.Sc. (Tech.) founded his structural design company in 1959, and for the first ten years he worked there primarily by himself, alongside his main job.
In 1969 Kaitila began working full time on design work in his own office in Helsinki’s Pitäjänmäki district. Initially, he employed three structural designers to assist him, and by the end of the decade, the office’s staff fluctuated between 15 and 20 people.
Kimmo Kaitila retired in October of 1990, with Päiviö Tammiaho selected as the new managing director. After a brief period as part of the Kupari & Uusitalo group, Kimmo Kaitila Oy gained new owners in the form of Lasse Anttila, Jari Salminen, Päiviö Tammiaho and Pentti Väinämö.
RE-Suunnittelu purchased Lasse Anttila’s, Päiviö Tammiaho’s and Pentti Väinämö’s shares, with Jari Salminen left owning the remaining 25% of Insinööritoimisto Kimmo Kaitila Oy’s shares.
In May 2015, RE-Suunnittelu Oy purchased the operations of Rakennepalvelu L. Pihlaja, a firm specialising in structural design, and merged it with Kaitila.
In November RE-Suunnittelu Oy sold 5% of Insinööritoimisto Kimmo Kaitila Oy’s shares to Keijo Järvi, a project manager at Kaitila.
RE-Suunnittelu Jyväskylä Oy
The year 2013 would turn out to be a busy year for the company, and additional resources proved hard to come by. In late 2013, RE-Suunnittelu Oy’s board decided to open an office in Jyväskylä, and to do so founded RE-Suunnittelu Jyväskylä Oy. Petri Moisio was chosen as the new company’s managing director, and operations in Jyväskylä began in early 2014. In addition to the managing director, the company employed an architect, a HVAC designer, an electrical designer, an energy expert, and a property development engineer.
In spring 2014, economic sanctions against Russia were put in place, and in retaliation Russia prohibited the import of foodstuffs from Finland too. As a result of this, RE-Suunnittelu’s order book reduced in volume in late 2014, as our main customers in the food industry postponed their investments as a result of the export ban. The results of this included RE-Suunnittelu Jyväskylä not meeting its targets, leading to operations being wound up by the end of 2017. The company was merged with RE-Suunnittelu Oy in late January 2017.
For almost the entirety of the company’s history, food industry customers had also enquired about production engineering design, i.e. process, plant and piping design. In early 2015, RE-Consulting Oy, fully owned by RE-Suunnittelu Oy, was founded, specialising in production engineering design and consulting services for improving the efficiency of production.
Our process, piping and plant design services have been well-received amongst our customers. There are relatively few food industry process designers in Finland. A large proportion of the design work is carried out by equipment suppliers, however RE-Consulting has brought an independent option to this design sector.
When RE-Suunnittelu Oy commenced operations in 1994, a total of 21 employees transferred to the company from Valiotekniikka. A third of those – i.e. seven employees – still work for the company. Of the rest, ten have retired and only four left to work for another employer. Those who joined the company later have also tended to stay, leading to relatively low staff turnover. Our staff are highly motivated, and we have created a corporate culture whereby experienced employees guide and advise their younger counterparts in the secrets of design and project management.
‘I’ve worked here since autumn 2015. I was delighted to have found a workplace with such a warm, relaxed and pleasant atmosphere, whilst also maintaining full dedication to the job at hand throughout the team. I do my part to make sure that architects and engineers can focus on design. I relax by getting outside and particularly love catching a glimpse of any rare ray of sunshine we get in Finland.’
The RE Group has always been focused on design for challenging hygienic processes and spaces. The majority of our customers operate in the food industry, and our customer base includes the likes of Valio, Arla, Atria, Fazer, Apetit, Vaasan, Nestlé and Kaslink.
Furthermore, we have also designed logistics facilities for Kesko, Finnfrost and Pakastamo Oy. We’ve designed office, laboratory and other such facilities for customers such as the University of Helsinki, HUS Helsinki University Hospitals, and the City of Helsinki. We have also been involved in a number of projects for the Finnish armed forces.
What does the future hold for the RE Group
In autumn 2015, RE-Suunnittelu Oy gained a new managing director in the shape of architect Juhani Takkinen, whilst Martti Heikkinen became fulltime chair of the board.
As mentioned previously, the economic sanctions placed on Russia in 2014 also had an impact on the RE Group’s turnover, which shrank during the period 2015–2017. In 2018 the company once again began experiencing growth, with the 2019 budget approaching €6 million.
The RE Group will continue its journey as a multidisciplinary design firm, with its services aimed at customers who require designers for hygienic processes and production facilities, such as the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. We also design logistics centres, refrigerated and frozen storage spaces, laboratories, hotels, offices and shops.
We aim for moderate, profitable growth alongside our customers’ projects.