Linas Lelešius, Sales Manager, has worked at Peikko Lithuania for over a decade and he works to provide the very best level of service to his customers. Here, he tells us how Peikko bolted column connections became the industry standard in the Lithuanian market.
At home in Peikko
I’m a structural engineer by education, and at the start of my career I tried a lot of different jobs. Naturally, these included structural design, but I also worked as a contractor and as a project manager in various fields. Eventually I found myself in Peikko and I’ve been here for more than 10 years, already. I started at Peikko as a salesperson and these days I’m a sales manager leading a department, which includes teams of Active sales, Customer service and Marketing.
In my daily work, I support my teams with technical know-how for special cases and guide them towards set targets. Here, we sell the whole package of Peikko products in Lithuania, as well as connections to Peikko Group.
15 years of Peikko in Lithuania
This year we are celebrating 15 years of Peikko in Lithuania and we are really happy with our success over the years. In the beginning, I know it was tough for us to break into the market, although it was before I joined the company. However, with hard work, year after year the market has accepted our solutions more and more, and now we are the market standard. Here in in Lithuania, when people think of bolted column connections they automatically think of the name Peikko – we really are known as the market standard.
New solutions take on old attitudes
Fifteen years ago, the standard solution for erecting columns was to use socket foundations, the same as in the old times. And, of course, the market was very conservative back then. That’s how the construction business is overall – it’s always sceptical of new things and innovations, and it takes a long time to introduce new things.
Back then, one of the key people in the Peikko team was Paulius Bulota, who is now the Managing Director of our Lithuanian Unit. He’s still quite active in sales because he loves to do it. And quite a lot of the success of our company here is due to him. He did the pioneering work, and the hard job of introducing Peikko’s bolted column connections to the market.
He’s told us stories about what it was like to try and sell our solutions in those days. For example, he visited the boss of a precast plant and the guy was just sitting there smoking behind an old, bulky table. So Paulius presents Peikko’s innovative solutions and the man behind the table looks up and asks, “What’s in it for me?” Back then they were always thinking about themselves. Can you imagine what it was like for someone from a company with Nordic-type values and attitudes to turn up and the first thing they hear is “What’s in it for me?” Luckily that attitude is gone now, but in the beginning it must have been pretty tough.
Customers appreciate what Peikko offers
Here in Lithuania, we have three main types of customers: designers, precasters and contractors. The market is not that big, with about 3 million people and 7 big precasting companies in the country, and we put a lot of effort into providing top level services.
For designers, of course, we offer Peikko Designer®, which is an excellent tool and it’s free for them to use. Our team works on building good relations with them, doing all they can to help them get the best results. With Peikko, they know that they can solve their design issues, and they know that our bolted column connections let them design more effective solutions with a better total cost. But more than that, our team really helps them out, assisting them with their designs. If a customer has a query, the Peikko team will check what’s required, do the calculations and offer a solution. We’re involved from early in the design stage to when the key is finally delivered to the owner. Other companies don’t do that. They only have distributors with no after-service.
Precasters also appreciate our service and they find it really useful that we have a local warehouse with local stocks available, plus full technical support. This means that if a precaster is in urgent need of something standard or special, Peikko will do everything to deliver it quickly to the customer, which is really a great help. This is something that none of our competitors in the country can offer.
And then our contractor customers also appreciate the full service Peikko provides. They value our high quality solutions, our flexible, expert support and our ability to solve their issues. And, of course, Peikko solutions are much more advanced than other connection methods and they allow faster, safer installation.
A booming market
At the moment, the construction industry in Lithuania is reaching its peak. Residential buildings are very popular, perhaps due to the pandemic, so we’re selling twice the normal budget, and it’s very busy. Peikko’s customer service team is under big pressure to deliver everything that has been ordered and keep the supply chain working. It looks like the demand will continue for some time, even though the material price for steel is three times what it was last year.
I expect that the market will calm down at some point, maybe in the middle of next year. At some point investments will stop, the market will overheat and it will get too expensive to build. But right now, although they are really challenging times, we are happy!
Peikko leads the market
We really are the market standard here. Whenever a customer thinks of bolted connections, they automatically think of Peikko, and I have a story that illustrates it quite clearly.
In one project there was a situation with some column shoes. A contractor sent us some drawings, said “Guys I need your help, there are some deviations, the tolerances are not okay. This is with your products.” But when we checked, they weren’t actually using Peikko column shoes. The contractor assumed that because they ordered columns shoes that they were going to get Peikko products and Peikko quality. However, the precaster had changed them to a competitor’s product and didn’t tell the contractor. Well, they didn’t have the same tolerances or quality as our products. It’s a really good example that when someone in our market chooses bolted column connections, they expect that of course they will get Peikko. And that’s what they actually want.
We are doing a great job with our brand awareness and maybe it’s what I’m proudest of here. It’s really something to know that when people think of connections they think of Peikko.
Setting the standard for quality
I also have another story that shows how useful Peikko Designer® is and how popular it is in the market. Just some months ago, a designer had used Peikko Designer® to do all the calculations for a project but they were using solutions from a competitor. Well, all the calculations in Peikko designer are based on specifications for Peikko products. This is an important point because all our bolted column connection products are ETA assessed and CE marked for performance – you get a specified and guaranteed level of performance when you choose Peikko products.
Anyway, the customer noticed that the calculations were for products with different specifications. So they had to ask the designer why. The designer had probably wanted to use a competitor’s cheaper products. However, now that the design and calculations had already been done with Peikko specifications, they had to say that of course they intended to use Peikko all along. In this case, our easy-to-use design tools helped the designer with their calculations and they also helped us win the customer and maintain our strong position.
You can do it the old way or the Peikko way
I have another fun thing that I can tell. These days in Peikko we have the saying, “You can do it the old way or the Peikko way”. I’m happy to say that it was invented here in Lithuania. I can’t remember exactly who said it first. We were having a meeting and talking about what was good about our solutions and someone just said it out loud. It was so good that the phrase stuck.
I’m really proud of my team, not only with our external customers, but also with our internal customers. We are solution-based not just problem-based. And I think that what we have achieved with bolted column connections, we can also achieve with other Peikko connections and solutions. I think we can make them the market standards, too. And then, when someone mentions these types of solution, Peikko will be their first thought.
Read the earlier stories:
My Bolted Story: Thorsten Heskamp
My bolted story: Topi Laiho
My bolted story: Petri Suur-Askola
My bolted story: Raimo Lehtinen
My bolted story: Jorma Kinnunen
My bolted story: Adrián Liste
Want to know more about our 30th anniversary of Bolted Column Connections?
Visit our campaign site here.