Best-Hall Oy – 43 years covered

There were two quite sad-looking green buildings next to an abandoned field with the text BEST-HALL OY. Random passers-by probably thought that the company was involved in the mail order business. It was the late 1970s. Recession, unemployment and migration from rural areas were all real phenomena back then as well. Thus, the municipal authorities of Kälviä recognised that the SH-Produkt element house construction factory was not sufficient for the needs of an industrialising municipality. The hand of fate may have played a role, as the authorities were soon contacted by three young men who seemed to be trustworthy and were willing to relocate their recently established company to Kälviä, which seemed to provide a better environment for growth. 

Soon, it was apparent that the company was not in the mail order business. A pile of random hardware appeared in the front yard, and freshly painted steel grids were pushed out through the back door. Every week, a Scania lorry, coloured pink like a dish of whipped porridge, would pick up a wobbly stack of steel elements, on top of which lay a huge roll of cover fabric. It all began there, and on an early rainy November morning in 1978, I was among those who got on the Best-Hall “tour bus”, headed towards Siilinjärvi. I was promised work until Christmas. Now, after a little more than twenty years as a building constructor, I always feel a little nervous before each Christmas.

Urho Kekkonen died, the Berlin Wall fell, and the Soviet Union ceased to exist. There was an economic downturn, a worry-free period of consumption, controlled restructuring, economic crises and economic depression. Nevertheless, Best-Hall continued working, as no one knew any better. The number of employees grew steadily, and people strolling along Kälviä main street began to meet “pesthall” employees more frequently. Initially, the only way to distinguish them from everyone else was their dark collars. However, they were later provided with uniforms to help people recognise them.

Of course, sometimes were very tough, and even the Grim Reaper’s effort was required to remind us of the importance of matters. In the end, the sun did always rise, even after the bleakest days, and in retrospect, we survived the depression in the 1990s with mere scratches on our psyche. Those initially spacious buildings soon became crowded. Since then, additional production facilities, expansions to provide a higher quality of life and other annexe buildings have been constructed almost every year, and all the while, the fields have inconspicuously been turned into an industrial zone. Those guys were really crafty.

The history is written by Best-Hall Oy’s former chief union representative Esko Viitasaari, and it was published in December 2001 in the Kälviän Joulu publication.

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