The Rovaniemi Entrepreneurs’ Association (Rovaniemen Yrittäjät) on November 1 awarded five businesspersons as Entrepreneurs of the Year.
The awardees are Jouko Rajanen of Choco Deli, Kari Rautionaho of Suomen Akut Oy, Valentijn Beets and Veronika Butinova of Kontiovaaran Husky (Bearhill Husky), Petri Teppo of Studio Artica, and Mikko Riskilä of Lohiapaja Oy.
In his reaction to becoming one of the awardees, Valentijn, the owner of Bearhill Husky, said both he and his wife were very surprised at receiving such recognition and distinction. “We did not realise we were even considered. I must admit that I was even a bit emotional about it. We have put so much of our efforts, hopes and dreams into this kennel that it was very nice that people have noticed it,” he told.
He said they have always intended for the company to have a positive impact and this was the recognition that it did.
“Another thing is that it is already hard enough running a sledge-dog business in Lapland, and even harder as a foreigner. So to be noticed was a moment that we are quite proud of,” he said.
Valentijn said Bearhill Husky provides lifetime husky memories to the guests, while respecting and honouring the amazing abilities of their huskies.
“Currently we have about 100 Alaskan huskies, of all ages. We house them in a modern dog-friendly kennel, and make sure that they have round-the-year activities and care, said Valentijn, adding, “the focus is on breeding and raising well mannered, well trained working sledge-dogs.”
Kontiovaaran Husky, he said, operates on a no-kill basis (i.e., old, sick or unproductive dogs are not euthanised), they have robust population-control measures in place (spaying and neutering), they do not use chains to house the dogs, they have focus on FIT’s (fully independent travellers) and not so much on traditional group tourism.
Describing the business background he said they initially started their business in Rovaniemi as a subcontractor for a bigger kennel. “This was already way back in 2007. This kennel provided us with a place to stay and clients. In 2010 we moved completely from Lieksa to Rovaniemi to focus on our work as a subcontractor. However we didn’t really like this work. In 2013, our contract ended and we decided to become independent operators again, like we had been before in Lieksa. Initially it was quite hard, but pretty soon business picked up and in 2016 we changed from a personal company into a limited company, purchased the plot our kennel is now built on and fully established our business in Rovaniemi.”
“The decision to move to Rovaniemi permanently was both financial and practical,” said the husky owner. When just he and his wife started the business they were living in a remote farm in the north Karelian wilderness. The nearest shop was 40km away while the nearest neighbour was 5km off.
“Living in the remote area became difficult after our children were born and started to live near the town for better services.” They found more tourists and naturally Rovaniemi was chosen.
“As entrepreneurs, we have been successful, because we are serious about our guests’ experience and respect the money they pay us. Also we have tried to be innovative in our business approach, kennel set-up, marketing and sales,” said Valentijn.
He also named good dog-care and their focus on the experience and satisfaction of the customers as two more reasons behind the success.
Esko Määttä, the chairman of Rovaniemi Association of Entrepreneurs (Rovaniemen Yrittäjät ry) said, “It is not always easy to come to a foreign country and start a business, especially in Finland, where the language can be quite difficult.
“Despite all this, Bearhill Husky’s Valentijn Beets and Veronica Butinova have persistently strived to realise their own desire and dream, also making fearless and steady investments to develop and grow in their own field of business. And the best part is that they have succeeded in this,” Määttä told.
He said they are a vital part of the Rovaniemi area’s pure Lappish husky experience-providers and have a wide network.
“They have grown tremendously during the past couple of years. They are also considering all environmental and ethical aspects through all their actions while working with animals in the tourism industry,” Määttä added.
From here you can find all the articles about the awarded entrepreneurs.
City of Rovaniemi - Daily Finland Report