Once upon a time, great grandfather bought a car…
The initial impetus for the Ventoniemi companies came in the 1920s, when the 22-year-old son of a family of farmers living in Metsäkulma, Mänttälä, noticed that his interest in cars was steering him away from agriculture. It was in 1928 when this young man, called Väinö Ventoniemi, bought his first car and began a career as a taxi driver.
The beginning of the 1930s marked a change in his operations. Väinö Ventoniemi had gained a feel for heavier vehicles while serving in the Finnish Defence Forces, and so he decided to replace his taxi with a truck. Ventoniemi started transporting logs in Mäntsälä and continued these operations in Jokela, which became the new domicile for his business operations.
The 1940s were a turbulent time in Finland. At the order of the Defence Forces, Väinö Ventoniemi and his truck began driving the Arctic Ocean route between Rovaniemi and Liinahamari. This route became Finland’s only wartime lifeline to the outside world. Bus transport was introduced as a new mode of transport in 1945. These operations started with a “bruck” (combined bus and truck) on the Jokela–Hyvinkää–Helsinki route. The vehicle accommodated 10 passengers, in addition to transporting cargo and milk on the cargo bed. The route still operates today – though with modern coaches.
The 1950s was the start of a period of growth in Finland. It was at this time that Väinö Ventoniemi built a commercial premise with garages and maintenance facilities in Jokela. As a foresighted entrepreneur, he also purchased gravel pits. With the growth in gravel and coach transport, Ventoniemi was becoming an important employer in the Uusimaa region.
In the 1960s, Finnish people were struck with a longing to travel. Not surprisingly, Väinö Ventoniemi was involved in the founding of Hyvinkää Travel Agency in 1965. Coach transport operations expanded with several business acquisitions, and new business premises were built in Hyvinkää. The different lines of business were separated into two limited liability companies called Ventoniemi Oy and Ventoniemen Sora Oy. These two companies formed a strong family business.
The 1970s were a period of growth for the Ventoniemi companies. They gained ownership of the transport company Riihimäen Liikenne Oy. Coach transport grew from being the first “milk transport line” into a company of 60 coaches. In the Uusimaa and Häme regions, the scheduled coaches travelled 3.3 million kilometres per year. Charter transport grew significantly. Hyvinkää Travel Agency changed its name to Travel Agency Ventours Oy, which operated in five municipalities: Hyvinkää, Riihimäki, Järvenpää, Mäntsälä and Orimattila. Ventoniemi transported gravel with its own truck and trailer combinations to Hyvinkää and Greater Helsinki from production facilities located in Hyvinkää, Hausjärvi, Loppi and Nurmijärvi.
A family business to the core
In the 1990s, Ventoniemi continued to be a strong family business. The number of professional employees increased to over 150. When Finland joined the European Union in 1995, it brought significant changes to the operating methods of traditional bus and coach transport. The industry became open to new entrepreneurs, traditional scheduled transport became subject to competitive bidding, and bus and coach transport was largely based on a variety of purchase agreements.
The early 1990s also saw a period of depression in Finland. The decade can be described as a true decade of change in the bus and coach industry. However, the company adapted to the new challenges well and celebrated its 70th anniversary in April 1998. The company introduced its first double-decker coach, the Neoplan Skyliner.
At the forefront of development
In the 2000s, the Ventoniemi companies continued their efforts to develop their business. Quality and environmental management systems were built, and the company’s levels of competitiveness were high. Personnel job satisfaction was also measured and found to be good. The company continued to purchase new equipment, and the average age of the coaches was at a prime level in the industry in Finland.
The company was initially a little worried about the adoption of the euro at the beginning of 2002, but the change was implemented without a hitch. Unfortunately, the beginning of the new millennium has been characterised by terrorism, wars and new types of epidemics, which affect tourism and through it the charter operations of our company. We hope that conditions will calm down and that the global economy will soon be back on track for growth.
The repairs and expansion of the Hyvinkää depot were completed at the end of 2002, and the office employees were also able to move into new, well-lit and practical premises at the beginning of 2003. The company’s 75th anniversary was celebrated in April, but only among the staff and while working.
The latter half of the 2000s was actually a rather steady period of operation. Thanks to a succession, the third generation has assumed its place in the company’s management. The equipment continues to be top-class, and the company has recently made new purchases in Europe, from where it has mainly acquired slightly used, low mileage tourist coaches. They are well-suited for the company, as the number of kilometres driven per year is relatively low in charter transport.
Ventoniemi was able to retain its position in scheduled and charter transport, but it was forced to discontinue some of its unprofitable transport operations. The company’s information technology was developed systematically.
Something new and something old at the 80th anniversary celebrations
Ventoniemi Oy celebrated its 80th anniversary in spring 2008 with customers, interest groups, friends and, of course, staff. The occasion was celebrated by ordering a new 15-metre-long, 66-seater Scania OmniExpress from Lahden Autokori. The almost 50-year-old “Siipi-Wiima” was also restored in time for the celebration as a historic coach. An 80th anniversary volume on the past and present of Ventoniemi was published in connection with the celebration.
The journey continues
The new Public Transport Act entered into force on 3 December 2009, and it is set to revolutionise the bus transport management model in Finland after the transition period. The purpose of the transition period, which extends to 2018, is to provide companies with time to adapt to and prepare for a transport management model that is based on tender processes and is regulated by society more than before.
The 2010s have therefore been characterised by preparations for the upcoming changes. Furthermore, the political instability around the world that was mentioned above has for its part impacted on international transport in particular.
Ventoniemi has made good use of the transition period for the Public Transport Act. In the 2010s, Ventoniemi has been actively involved in tender processes conducted by the tourism industry and other authorities in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Through tender processes, Ventoniemi has been assigned the responsibility for providing local transport in the City of Riihimäki, for example. In addition to these tender processes, Ventoniemi has kept a close eye on the trends related to the industry’s procurement models.
Ventoniemi has also considered it important to invest in equipment and thereby secure top quality for customers in the future as well. The total number of coaches in use has been slightly reduced and reviewed to make sure that the equipment range meets the needs of customers in the best possible manner.
In 2018, the new Act on Transport Services will supersede the Public Transport Act, which entered into force in 2008. The transition period agreements will end in different traffic areas in 2018–2019, after which we will enter the service era of new agreements, boosted by digitalisation, once and for all.
Our coach range
Our coaches range from minibuses that are suited for easy travel to 66-seater maxi coaches that are excellent for longer journeys.