Ensto’s “Two businesses, two focuses” strategy gives Ensto DSO the ability to chase ambitious growth.
A well-known, former Finnish corporate executive is reputed to have remarked that the test of a good strategy is whether it horrifies the listener when presented for the first time. Perhaps apocryphal, the story still runs true to the reaction Mika Haikola, Senior Vice President of Ensto DSO, sometimes receives when he notes his business’ goal is to double turnover and increase profitability by the end of 2025.
“At first, some are incredulous when I say this,” says Haikola. “But these are not my numbers. Our team has put these together, and when explained, they make perfect sense.”
Ensto has always been customer focused. But beginning January 1, 2021, Ensto DSO (Distribution System Operators), will have a structure that allows an even keener focus.
“Ensto DSO wants to be the technical expert for distribution system operators,” says Haikola. “Even though we’re a niche supplier with small components in the network, our components play a critical role.”
First, Ensto DSO will develop its portfolio to enable it to enter more markets. “One example of a growth area is underground cold shrink medium voltage,” says Haikola, “but we’re missing something from the portfolio for certain export markets such as the Middle East, where some of their underground voltage levels are not in our current offerings. We want to offer the full package. In a similar manner we are developing our network automation product offering.”
Second, and in parallel, Ensto DSO will be looking at mergers and acquisitions. Opportunities are markets in Central European German-speaking countries, where Ensto DSO would have ready offerings but does not have a market presence. Another opportunity is acquiring technology that complements existing offerings. “Smart products are a good example of this,” says Haikola, citing products with sensors that enable predictive maintenance, such as those which could take measurements in different locations in a distribution network for future use with machine learning or the IoT for predictive maintenance. “Ensto is very well known in joints and terminations,” he says, “but there are customers expecting new things from us.”
Sometimes the secret to growth is simply about spreading the good message of Ensto DSO. “In Finland and Sweden we’re known for products with amazing reliability and low life cycle costs,” says Haikola, “but we need to expand that to every market we’re in.”
“We are known in Russia, for example,” he says, “but we haven’t been able to carry the message that if you invest a tiny bit more, you get much greater network reliability. In the Nordics we certainly carry that message, but we need to do it elsewhere.”
California, the world’s sixth largest economy, is another market where Ensto DSO has a growing role as a technical expert for its customers. All Ensto full covered conductor solution products have been qualified and approved by the State’s large utilities. “Our efforts in less than two years have begun to generate revenue,” says Haikola. “Our team confidently forecasts increasing turnover in the near term in California. For the medium- and longer term, we see success in the rest of the United States.”
Haikola says Ensto will be the technical expert the customer can actually get on the phone when they want to develop a product or improve their network — or when they just need an answer right now.
“Our customers know a person at Ensto and their phone number. This is totally unlike our biggest competitors, who have a 24-hour 0800 telephone number where the customer has no idea in what country it’s being picked up.”
While not all cultures transfer easily, Ensto’s values and its way of caring for its customers in the Nordics will definitely be welcome in the rest of the world. “Globally we’re small,” says Haikola, “but we can gain the technical expert position.”