35 years as a pioneer in the field

Hannu Lankinen, Sustera Group's CFO

Raksystems was founded in 1989 in Otaniemi by Marko Malmivaara and a few other classmates. The entire business idea was based on the observation of a missing service. Houses were being bought and sold daily, but often the sellers, buyers, or real estate agents lacked building technical education or expertise. This led to disputes and unpleasant surprises after transactions.

The company’s business idea was to offer expert assistance in professionally assessing the condition of homes for sale, thus beginning the building inspection business in Finland. There was immediate demand for the service, and the company started expanding to other parts of Finland, creating a nationwide network of experts.

In the following years, the operations expanded to the inspection of larger properties and small-scale project management and planning focused on housing companies. When I started at Raksystems in 2010, approximately 80% of the revenue came from inspection services.

I’ve had the opportunity to work in a fantastic company surrounded by amazing people for over 13 years. The first few years were spent as part of the Anticimex group, with a focus largely on pest control and inspections of single-family homes. The focus was kept narrow, and the service offering wasn’t expanded due to the views of the then-owner.

Raksystems’ new beginning

The actual journey of Raksystems began at the end of 2014 when the management of the Finnish company bought Raksystems for themselves. The opportunity arose when the then-owner, EQT, wanted to focus on pest control and divest from the business of property condition in Finland.

After the MBO, everyone was full of energy, and even though the company had been established in 1989, it felt like we were starting something completely new. Investing in personnel and simultaneously improving basic processes had a tremendous impact, and it began to show in the figures from the first full calendar year as an independent Raksystems.

We first expanded our service offering to project management and planning. The teams of a few experts quickly grew into departments with dozens of experts.

The market situation was favorable, and there was a demand for high-quality expert services. When the staff is enthusiastic and motivated, the sky’s the limit. The pace was fast, and from 2014 to 2018, we mainly grew organically.

We hired about 30 new experts annually. All our activities were summed up in our value of “can-do attitude.” I myself remember conducting nearly 100 job interviews annually from 2015 to 2018, even though I held the position of CFO. In a smaller company, it’s normal and natural for roles to be broad, and daily tasks often focused on everything but what the title suggested.

Time for self-reflection

In retrospect, it can be said that there is always another side to the coin. During the most intense years of growth and development, many things were overlooked. It could even be said that the company’s management should have focused more on core tasks earlier on, such as integrating acquired companies.

Many processes and tasks necessary for the size of the company were neglected, and now, with the company’s revenue close to 100 million euros, we’re doing things that should have been put in order a few years ago. However, it must also be acknowledged that in the big picture, the strategy was right for that situation, and without such a rapid pace, we wouldn’t be the company we are now.

Value-based action

The “can-do attitude,” best service, and well-being of the personnel – these three values guide our actions, reflecting ideals that we strive to live by in our everyday lives. Values ​​cannot be just empty words; they must be concrete, achievable, and endorsed by the personnel. They represent how we operate as a company and as individuals. Without them, everyday life would be difficult, and values ​​cannot be truly realized in everyday life.

Ultimately, our values ​​set us apart from purely transactional business. Their purpose is to reflect our way of operating to us and others. Personally, what matters to me is how things are done in the company rather than what the company does. Values ​​must be such that they fit into personal life as well as working life.

Expanding abroad with MB Funds

When we bought the company from Anticimex in 2014, our turnover was 10 million euros, and we had 106 employees. Over the next four years, we doubled our turnover and staff organically. At that point, we had been itching to expand abroad for some time, and enthused by this idea, we decided to meet with some private equity investors. We wanted a partner who would share the risk and provide financial backing for larger acquisitions.

Out of several options, we clicked with MB Funds, and we shared a common vision of how to achieve it. At the end of 2018, we sold the majority of the company to MB Funds, and we started a new phase in our company’s history.

Together with MB Funds, we completed our first acquisition abroad in 2019, which opened the doors to Sweden. Deals were made steadily both in Finland and in Sweden. The growth rate was fast, both organically and through acquisitions. At this point, acquisitions were made by a small team, and the focus was not on building unified operating models and integrations but on growing the business. Nevertheless, we held onto the values ​​that were important to us as a company. We had many colorful phases together with MB, but the decision to expand into green building services was one of our best.

Years of rapid growth

During 2021, we began discussions with MB Funds about our future goals and realized that it would be logical to continue geographical expansion in the Nordic countries, but also in Europe. Our turnover was approaching 100 million, and we had over five hundred employees. With MB, we completed a total of 13 acquisitions in Sweden and Finland from 2019 to 2022. At this point, however, MB stated that a new owner was needed for the next phase, and we began preparing the sale of the company.

After a long process and dozens of company presentations, Swedish Trill Impact emerged victorious, becoming Raksystems’ new majority owner in September 2022. The management and a large part of the staff decided to continue as owners. Now, 1.5 years later, I am glad that Trill Impact became our new owner. In these difficult times, we have received endless support and assistance from them.

New owner, new CEO, new strategy

The last two years have been extremely challenging. There has been COVID-19, lockdowns, remote work, war in Europe, and an unprecedented rise in interest rates. However, together with the company’s management, the board, and Trill Impact, we have progressed determinedly, week by week and month by month, and planned for the future. It is good to remember that after every storm comes fair weather.

During the autumn of 2023, we hired a new Group CEO, Tuomas Qvick, and under his leadership, we started an ambitious strategy exercise, the launch of which we will witness on April 26, 2024, among the entire group of employees.

From my perspective, a new phase in the company’s history is beginning again, and it is an honor to be involved in building something new. The implementation of the new strategy begins, and it will take us to the next growth path towards new countries and a turnover of 250 million euros.

Best of all, in the future, we will be able to serve even more customers, and we will have hundreds of new colleagues.

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