Resilience rewarded in volatile markets

Finnish CS Control Software expects strong growth in Egypt and Thailand, although political turmoil has slowed down projects in both countries.

CS Control Software Oy delivers automation solutions for industry and public infrastructure requirements all over the world. The Espoo-based business has specialised particularly in energy saving applications. CS Control Software’s Managing Director and founder, Jarkko Laaksonen, says that Egypt and Thailand have taken a prominent role in the company’s global growth strategy. However, both countries have in recent years proved to be challenging operating environments due to political unrest.

Public sector projects in cold storage

The 2011 uprising in Egypt forced the former political leaders to step down, and two years later, the army seized power. Furthermore, in Thailand, the deep-rooted political crisis and demonstrations led to a military coup in spring 2014. “In both countries, we have chosen to initially offer energy saving solutions for street lighting to public administrations. The constant change of civil servants has slowed down the finalisation of deals,” Laaksonen says.

However, CS Control Software does not intend to give up, because there is plenty of potential in both Egypt and Thailand. “Among other things, our solutions help cut the energy costs of street lighting by 35 to 45 per cent. There is a demand for that in countries suffering from energy shortages.”

Team Finland opens doors

CS Control Software started looking into the option of establishing operations in Egypt at the end of 2011. Finnpartnership provided business partnership support for partner identification and more recently for training local staff. CS Control Software received business partnership support from Finnpartnership for finding partners and surveying the market in Thailand too. “Finnpartnership’s support has undoubtedly been useful. The support covered a small part of the costs of establishing our company in the new market. Furthermore, filling Finnpartnership’s questionnaires and forms made us look at various issues from different angles and focus our work on the right things.”

Finnpartnership is part of the Team Finland network, which helps Finnish companies go global and can be of significant assistance to companies such as CS Control Software, according to Laaksonen. He has participated in official business delegations, which open doors and create new contacts, particularly with public sector representatives. “This is of huge help in countries such as Egypt.”

Local knowledge as a base

In both Egypt and Thailand, CS Control Software’s idea was to utilise local knowledge and combine it with Finnish skills and competence. In Egypt, CS Control Software’s partner is a local automation business with which they have now set up a joint company. In Thailand, CS Control Software currently operates through local cooperation partners.

Laaksonen believes that Egypt is a perfect cross point for offering their skills to other countries in the Middle-East and North Africa. In addition to the public sector, other potential customers include oil and gas industry operators. “We believe that combining Finnish and Egyptian expertise will be our asset in the local market.”

At a state of readiness for growth

In both Egypt and Thailand, CS Control Software is currently operating with the heat turned down. However, according to Laaksonen, the operations can be quickly expanded when the market becomes more receptive. “We have managed to establish a good reputation and trusting partnerships with local cooperation partners and authorities. They can see that we will not be heading out the door in the face of first obstacles.”

In Thailand, the company has offered its services alone and with local partners to a number of projects but, due to political turmoil and changes of power, public projects progress slowly. Nevertheless, Laaksonen expects the situation to change at some point. “We have a good tender base in Thailand, and have budgeted to receive revenue there this year.”

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