A passionate attitude to work brought AHA Logistics the title of Long-standing Achiever
“I can hardly believe how well everything has gone. Every time we have completed our financial statements we’ve discovered that, wow – we’ve done really well again,” founders of AHA Logistics, Tiina Haapala and Jonna Ahkila-Niemi explain, laughing.
They have plenty of reason to be happy because, in addition to AHA Logistics’ tenth anniversary in November, the company has been awarded Kauppalehti’s Long-standing Achiever certificate. The certificate is awarded to companies that have financially outperformed their peers five years running. Long-running success is not measured by financial indicators alone. The award also takes into account the skills of the company’s management, employee commitment, the efficiency of its processes and customer insight.
In ten years, AHA Logistics has grown into a company with 12 staff members and three offices, in Vaasa, Vantaa and Turku. The company has focused on steady growth without biting off too big a piece. Its reputation for excellent service has also spread through word of mouth.
“We have been careful to make sure that we retain the same great quality of service even while growing. The most important factor throughout the growth is to keep the number of employees and customers balanced. When canvassing for customers, we always think about what kinds of customers will bring out the best in us,” Ahkila-Niemi says.
Motivation through responsibility and freedom
AHA Logistics’ employees are very happy with their workplace. Staff turnover is almost non-existent.
In this sector, it is rare that logistics experts have mastered the special characteristics of several different modes of transport. But that’s how AHA Logistics stands out from other companies in the field. A diverse knowledge of the sector makes the job interesting and rewarding – in addition to making each employee a top-grade expert in the field. The staff are given plenty of freedom and responsibility, and AHA Logistics has accumulated a magnificent team of professionals who enjoy a challenge and value their professional development.
“At AHA Logistics, it’s not just one person that has special know-how; instead, every member of our customer service staff is an expert with diverse knowledge. We share our know-how openly and actively and no one is left to handle things alone. We seize even the most challenging of situations and solve them, whether it takes an hour or a whole day. As a result we have highly satisfied customers and new tools under our belt for the next challenge,” Haapala says.
The hierarchy at AHA Logistics is extremely flat. The managers lead by example and consequently earn the employees’ trust and respect. No one is above someone else. Cooperation is evident in everything in the office.
“We love to discuss things and solve quandaries together. Last time we hung a picture on the wall the whole office got involved,” Ahkila-Niemi laughs.
Customer service straight from the heart
The AHA Logistics entrepreneurs believe that teamwork, giving people responsibility and focusing fully on customer service has a direct effect on the company’s success.
“When the staff are motivated, they work hard and put their heart and soul into it. This is reflected in the quality and efficiency of our services. Everyone is responsible for their own customer accounts, which makes them want to do everything excellently. Every one of our employees wants us to succeed,” Haapala says.
Haapala also has a good rule of thumb for excellent customer service:
“If we have to tell a customer that there’s a problem, we will figure out a solution to present to them at the same time. It’s our job to solve challenges, and that’s what our customers pay us for.”
No need to own every part of the service chain
A good business idea requires factors that clearly make you stand out and give you an edge. One such factor for AHA Logistics is its large network of subcontractors, which is the cornerstone of the company’s business operations. Partnership with these contractors is based on fair play throughout the cooperation process, as well as open dialogue that works both ways.
“We choose our partners very carefully and continuously monitor the quality of the service. We demand a great deal from our subcontractors: If the service doesn’t meet our requirements, we find a better partner. This is one of our competitive advantages. We are not tied to certain operators but instead can choose the best partners to work with. We also always act in a fair way ourselves and handle payment transactions on time, which makes us a partner people want to work with,” the entrepreneurs say.
“We still have fun in the office”
Behind almost every successful business lies the business owners’ passion for their field. There’s no question this is the case with AHA Logistics. The people there enjoy working with a great group of colleagues, brilliant customers and, above all, are still happy to come to work every day.
“The past ten years have expanded our professional lives and brought us new friends and interests. Entrepreneurship makes it possible to implement even your wildest ideas. Our workplace is like a family where everyone has their own special role. We still have so much fun at work that I’m not sure I’ll want to retire when I reach that age,” Haapala says.