The Pandemic Did Not Destroy, but Rather Opened Up New Opportunities: Engineering Companies in Šiauliai Explore Emerging Markets

15 min read

Despite the global pandemic, a nascent industrial sector, and rapid technological progress, the group of companies from Šiauliai remains undeterred. They are engaged in wastewater treatment solutions and specialized production. On the contrary, this team of experienced engineers envisions opportunities amidst these challenges, with plans for even greater growth on the horizon.

Transforming ideas into reality

Over the course of more than a decade, the Šiauliai-based LZT Group has not only undergone a name change but has also transformed from a solitary entity into a consortium of five thriving companies. At that time, the company, which was still called LZ Technika, started its activity by supplying sewage treatment equipment to private clients. However, as time passed, the scope of their services expanded, encompassing both an enlarged network of partners and an extended range of offerings. Today, engineering professionals enjoy leadership in the fields of wastewater treatment plants, engineering network construction, and specialized contract manufacturing.

The synergy among the constituent companies is facilitated by close collaboration and the exchange of knowledge. Medtopas specializes in engineering network construction services, while Vandenvala, with branches in Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, and Šiauliai, focuses on selling and installing sewage treatment devices in settings such as individual houses and newly constructed blocks where connecting to centralized city networks is unfeasible. Similar functions are performed by the branch in Latvia. Meanwhile, LZT UAB brand Industrial Heroes manufactures custom-made non-standard products from thermoplastics and steel. Simultaneously, professionals from Consulting offer valuable advice and comprehensive solutions to clients.

Mindaugas Milevičius, CEO of one of the group’s companies, LZT UAB, emphasizes that their clientele primarily comprises those possessing the know-how but lacking the means for production. In response, the collaborative design and construction team not only shares expertise but also transforms partners’ concepts into tangible reality.

“Clients often provide us with drawings, sketches, and visualizations, which we fine-tune to strike a harmonious balance between their vision, technological feasibility, and our implementation capabilities. As partners, we frequently take on an advisory role, assisting in the discovery of innovative solutions,” explains the interviewee.

Each project is unique

According to engineering professionals, the group’s award-winning projects stand out for their uniqueness, offering diverse and distinct experiences. For instance, Medtopas has played a pivotal role in installing crucial infrastructure across the country, including expansive shopping centres, gas stations, airports, highways, and biogas power plants. Last year, LZT Group accomplished one of the most monumental undertakings in its operational history. The team not only undertook the design and manufacturing of wastewater treatment equipment but also assumed responsibility for additional construction contracts at the meat product production company, Delikatesas, situated in Joniškis. The total value of this project reached one million euros.

Another captivating challenge involved the erection of a water tower in Žagarė. Professionals say that constructing a tower with a capacity of 100 m3 was a real headache. It swiftly became evident that transporting such a structure would be impossible. Consequently, the requisite tools and equipment were transported to the construction site, where the tower was then assembled. Moreover, owing to the production of non-standard sized thermoplastic containers, LZT UAB also had to reconfigure their production facilities, as the ceilings proved inadequate to accommodate the increasing size of orders.

Milevičius says that the main activities of the group of companies encompass wastewater and air treatment facilities, as well as involvement with biogas and cogeneration power plants. He emphasizes the constant need for the refinement of these technologies to ensure heightened efficiency. Put simply, the objective is to enhance the capacity for cleaning more sewage and air and generating a greater volume of biogas within shorter time frames.

“While the underlying technology of our products may remain consistent, each production endeavour presents distinct challenges. We could probably remember an interesting and memorable fact or incident tied to every project. Each task serves as a stepping stone for our company’s growth and the acquisition of new knowledge,” he explains.

Finding potential amid challenges

When asked what challenges he encounters in his innovative work, the CEO of LZT UAB says that difficulties often have both a dark and a bright side. He notes that within Lithuania, only a handful of companies are engaged in similar pursuits, and in Šiauliai, where the heart of the engineering team operates, such enterprises are entirely absent.

“On the one hand, this situation is problematic as we have no one to consult with when working and looking for solutions. Consequently, we collaborate closely with universities, leveraging their expertise for the intricate calculations demanded by our production processes. However, occasions arise where we confront information gaps, compelling us to engage in introspection and experimentation to uncover solutions. On the other hand, this circumstance enhances our competitive side and allows us to cover a larger share of the market,” the interviewee explains.

These same factors occasionally impede the expansion of the company group’s workforce. Given the rarity of analogous roles in other establishments, diligent employees are recruited from partially similar sectors, such as furniture manufacturing. Later, the necessary knowledge is shared with them. Indeed, the spectrum of specialists at LZT Group is really diverse, encompassing designers, sales and procurement managers, production supervisors and managers, skilled workers, and more, all of whom collectively evolve alongside the companies.

“A good atmosphere inside the companies contributes to our exemplary client interactions. I appreciate the smoothness and productivity of our work, as well as the way our team manages to avoid mistakes. All external rewards come from the dedication and exertion of our workforce. Subsequently, receiving positive feedback from our partners regarding our undertakings and team, coupled with their return for additional orders, is immensely gratifying,” says the Head of the company that develops non-standard products.

Lithuanian experts are recognised internationally

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected both local and global businesses, has not spared engineers and manufacturers from Šiauliai either. In light of this unexpected situation, the companies within the LZT Group had to re-evaluate their business strategies. The economic consequences of the pandemic led to further expansion of both production capacities and exports, particularly toward Western and Northern Europe.

Presently, LZT Group has fostered a dedicated clientele spanning Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Germany, Great Britain, and even the Faroe Islands. M. Milevičius is also happy about the recent successful expansion in France.

The interviewee says that entering new markets demands perseverance and hard work. Lithuanians are viewed abroad as diligent, conscientious, and trustworthy individuals, enhancing the allure of our country’s geographic location to partners in Scandinavia. Of course, a reputation must be based on good accomplishments, ultimately increasing the number of positive reviews.

“We often give our clients even more than what is expected of us. Collaboratively, we navigate emerging challenges, making necessary adjustments to projects. All of this is worth doing because of the growth of our group. The immeasurable worth lies in the trust cultivated and referrals garnered from abroad. Therefore, through constant communication, we remain attuned to our partners’ needs, conserving their time and resources while offering optimal recommendations. Our guiding principle is that challenges need to be solved, not exacerbated,” states the engineering professional.

Sustainability is the only way forward

Looking ahead, the group envisions continued expansion and a sustained presence in foreign markets. Alongside the aforementioned establishment of new production facilities, the steady augmentation of their workforce, and the deepening collaboration with international partners, LZT Group is actively contemplating avenues for even greater operational efficiency and ecological problem-solving through engineering innovations. According to the specialists of the group, there persists a lack of awareness among the general population regarding eco-friendly practices, with cost often outweighing environmental considerations in service selection.

“Pollution problems pertaining to wastewater treatment and biogas production will only increase and become more pressing in the years ahead. As the world’s consciousness grows, society is progressively comprehending the magnitude of environmental change. We will be forced to become greener. Increasing awareness, evolving legislation, and EU initiatives will leave no other options.

By working closely with the creators and proprietors of the technologies we develop, we address pollution issues. As these issues gain prominence, it is likely that in the future we too will be able to reach more clients and alleviate the need to invest substantial effort in conveying the advantages of sustainability, as the industry steadily gains momentum over time,” the interviewee says about the growing concern for the environment.

Equally crucial to LZT Group’s strategic growth plans is their affiliation with the Rocket Cluster, an organization that brings together engineering professionals. For a collective of companies operating across Lithuania and Europe, joining this cluster opens doors to cooperative ventures, the exchange of diverse competencies, and ultimately offering clients the most optimal solutions.

“Engaging with this community offers an enhanced grasp of prevailing market dynamics, shedding light on the experiences and challenges faced by other companies. It also serves as a platform to exchange invaluable contacts and projects. Membership in the cluster provides many invisible benefits and is a constant reminder that we are not operating in isolation, evoking a sense of having an unseen ally,” says M. Milevičius.