ETS NORD – a story of sustainable future
“It’s about making peoples’ lives better, as tedious as that may sound,” says Urmas Hiie, founder and co-owner of ETS NORD, one of the leading manufacturer and designer of ventilation systems in Scandinavia.
“We spend 90% of our time in closed environments, be it kitchens or conference rooms, and peoples’ lives depend on air quality. This is what ETS NORD does – our aim is to make sure each and every single one of us can live a long and healthy life.”
Ambitious? You bet. At ETS NORD, ambition is enthusiasm with a purpose.
Moving the air together
ETS NORD’s history is layered with stories of aspiration and success, trial and error, and lots of love for what the company represents today. It all began when Urmas – together with his business partner Küllike Lilienberg – founded the vacuum cleaners engineering company Hiie & Co, back in 1994. From the original business idea, the company grew to be one of the biggest ventilation installers in Estonia.
“These were the crazy 1990s,” Urmas remembers. “Free market was a new thing in Estonia, as we had just recently regained our independence from the Soviet Union. Doing business back then was baptism by fire, quite literally.”
As a logical successor to installation, a production department was created. In 1998 Urmas and Küllike started a separate business unit for production. ETS NORD was born to produce the best ventilation systems in human history and provide them to the world.
In 2011, Markku Mattila and Jari Lehtonen – good friends and longtime competitors of Urmas – joined the company, making ETS NORD a half Estonian, half Finnish enterprise.
“We already saw huge potential in ETS NORD in 2004,” Markku and Jari explain. “There were a lot of possibilities for ventilation systems in the Finnish market, and we had tons of experience and a vast network.”
Combining forces with Urmas made a lot of sense, so they left their positions at a corporation and became partners at ETS NORD.
“We don’t regret a thing,” Markku and Jari say. “Even though there were times – especially during the early days – when we would ask ourselves: was it really worth it? It was. And it still is, to the fullest extent.”
Designing and manufacturing value-adding ventilation products
ETS NORD has come a long way and continues to grow. When the company was remodeled in 2011, the firm entered an entirely different league, largely thanks to their production of innovative ventilation solutions, but also thanks to unique market opportunities and the unparalleled dedication of the team.
At ETS NORD, innovation is not a buzzword. It’s in the DNA of the company.
“We have a deep-rooted background in technology,” Urmas explains what keeps ETS NORD ahead of the curve. “We embrace challenging, complicated production methods that enable us to design and manufacture things that, 10 years ago, appeared too futuristic.
No vision is of much use without dedicated people behind it.
“The team we assembled is just phenomenal,” Markku enthuses. “The designers, developers, engineers – everybody brings their unique perspective to the company, making us a trustworthy partner for our clients.”
Trust is an essential ETS NORD value.
“Serving customers with a myriad of needs, we need to make sure everybody can trust us,” Markku says. “Reliability is key in our business. If we promise something, it will happen.”
Another essential ETS NORD value is flexibility.
“We aim to do complicated things in the simplest way possible,” explains Jari. “That’s why flexibility is so important. We don’t have to go through a lengthy corporate chain of command to reach a decision. ETS NORD is a hands-on company where owners are a part of the firm’s everyday operations.”
Focusing on a sustainable future
There is a great saying: If you plan for the next year, plant a seed; if you plan for the next ten years, plant trees; if you plan for the next 100 years, teach the people.
ETS NORD knows the value of planning for the present while keeping an eye on the future.
By designing and installing state-of-the-art ventilation systems, ETS NORD plants a seed; by investing vigorously in contemporary technologies, it plants trees; by spreading its values and raising awareness, ETS NORD teaches the people.
“The future rewards those who keep moving forward. So we do, step by step,” Urmas says.
“We have grown significantly during the last few years but in a way we are still a ventilation startup. ETS NORD is a significant player in the Northern Europe region. Add new integrations and production methods, and I think we can reach far beyond our home market.”
“We will be global in the future,” Markku agrees. “By adjusting products to different cultures, ETS NORD will make progress in other markets.”
Yes, it may sound ambitious. But as Jari believes, by making the right decisions, good things will happen. “On one hand, mistakes are unavoidable,” he says. “On the other hand, learning from mistakes pushes the company forward. The only real mistake is doing nothing.”
And let’s not forget ambition is enthusiasm with a purpose. ETS NORD is known for both. And love. For the planet and everyone inhabiting it.
As Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart once put it: Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go into the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.