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Crew | April 2024

How Aussie builder Dave became a celebrity in Finland

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  • Dave Myers got his trade in Sydney, worked for years in Dublin, and now runs his own construction company in Helsinki
  • Dave is famous in Finland for his role in the country’s top-rating home renovation show, Huvila & Huussi
  • He says Steel Blue boots are comfortable in conditions ranging from plus 27 down to minus 20 degrees

Dave Myers has a beard like Father Christmas, an accent as broad as the Australian sky, and a heart as big as the country of his birth. So, how did this former Sydneysider end up not only running his own building company in Finland but also managing to become a celebrity on the other side of the world?

His story starts like many others—first, going to TAFE to learn his carpentry trade, then a few years spent working for construction companies, building schools then renovating houses.

 

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A heart set on adventure

Then, as it does for so many Aussies, the travel bug got him.

“I met a mad Irishman in Vietnam and he told me that Ireland was booming and I thought to myself, ‘yeah, let’s top the old bank balance up’, and I moved to Dublin,” Dave said. “I went to Dublin and it was pretty much clear that you couldn’t lose a job over there. The only thing they were interested in was whether or not you knew anybody else that wanted a job.”

That was 2004.

“I met a lovely Finnish lady over there and then she gave me two beautiful kids, a boy and a girl, and then she passed away from cancer,” Dave said. “So here I am, a foreign man in a foreign country with a one-and-a-half-year-old girl and a three-and-a-half-year-old boy with no family and I thought to myself, ‘what do you do? Let’s move to Finland’.”

The challenges of building in a Finnish winter

The move came in 2011 and Dave set up his own construction company, Finnralia—an amalgam of Finland and Australia. While Dave said he “knew the terms and conditions” when it came to living and working in Finland, the average day on the job in a country with heavy winter snow is very different to Sydney.

“You wake up in the morning, you open your door with your cup of coffee and you’ve got white stuff everywhere,” he said. “You shovel your way out of the driveway, you drive to work in an absolute blizzard. You have to keep all of your batteries and all of your tools that you’re going to use as warm as possible. Then you get to the job and you shovel your way into the job and then you shovel the job. We’re talking about two hours of shoveling each morning.

“Then you must keep everything clean because if you don’t know where something is or you keep rubbish everywhere, the snow will cover it and it looks beautiful, and you can’t find what you’re looking for unless you know where it is. And then when the spring comes, all that rubbish you left on the deck just reappears. Everything’s exactly where you left it.”

While the days are very short in winter, Dave said the white of the snow creates light. Work continues onsite, even at minus 18 degrees.

“The first thing we do is we set a fire up in the morning,” Dave said. “You work away for about half an hour, 40 minutes, and then you must come down and warm your hands up again.”

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Becoming one of Finland’s most recognisable faces

Finnralia now has a team of a dozen—and they’re pretty well known all over Finland, thanks to their starring role in the country’s top-rating home renovation TV show, Huvila & Huussi.

“What we do there is we go into summer cottages and we renovate them,” Dave said. “A summer cottage is a little cabin where you go and you spend the summer. You have a lake, you have a sauna, you have your grill, and you spend summer with your family.

“It’s the biggest building show in Finland. My business partner, my lovely lady, Vilja, is the building coordinator for the show. She is the face of the show.”

Why Dave wears Steel Blue work boots

Dave’s whole team wears Steel Blue work boots.

“We are very, very impressed with the boots,” he said. “They’re some of the most comfortable boots I’ve ever worn in my life—and I’m working in conditions from plus 27 down to minus 20. I wear them every single day, with Steel Blue’s bamboo socks. And if I go dancing, I go dancing in my Steel Blues.

“Even after wearing them every day for over a year, they do not stink. Which is very impressive.”

Head to your local authorized Steel Blue distributor to discover work boots that are a mark of true skill, or shop online.

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