Pes Architects Luovimo-story


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Scaling up creativity. Finpro Luovimo company internationalization story. More info at

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Pes Architects Luovimo-story

  1. 1. 1 (2) 08 June 2012PES-ARCHITECTS – GROWTH IN QUALITYThe story of PES-Architects demonstrates how hard work with world-class know-how andhigh risk can create extraordinary projects which add high value in company’s corecompetences.Company backgroundPES-Architects Limited – founded in 1968, is one of the leading and most internationalarchitectural design firms in Finland. PES-Architects’ mission is to be an innovative, reliable andco-operative design partner for demanding clients.The planned and built projects include complex public buildings like theatres, airports, andrailway terminals. In addition, PES has also designed and built demanding university buildings,schools and sport facilities, retail developments, office buildings, and housing developments.Besides architectural design PES Architects’ line of activities includes interior design, urbanplanning, structural design and project management. The company operates in Finland, Chinaand Russia.PES-Architects’ internationalization path started in the 1990’s economic downturn when theyhad to start to look for new projects outside Finland. The company was very successful inGermany winning various design competitions and other prizes, Marienkirche Concert Hall inNeubrandenburg being one of their high-quality references.In year 2003 PES-Architects started to enter Chinese architectural competitions and thecompany has worked in more than 60 competitions and design commissions in the cities ofShanghai, Wuxi, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Nanjing, Shenyang,Wuhan, Hefei, Nanning, Kunming, Yunnan, Beihai and Lianyungang. PES-Architects has wonten 1st Prizes and their latest works include Wuxi Grand Theater and Chengdu IconYuanDuanSuper High Rise Tower.Extraordinary projects result in extraordinary competencesPES-Architects joined the Luovimo project at the time when their business in China wasdeveloping rapidly. PES had worked in China with Chinese partners since 2003 but in order todeepen its presence on the market there was a need to study different options. Finpro made ananalysis of different entry modes and their characteristics and supported PES to crystallize thefinal entry mode including company form, location and operations in practice. Later on Finproalso carried out the establishment of the company in Shanghai within a TEKES financedprogram.PES Architects’ success in China has come from a combination of hard work, delivering highestpossible quality and risk-taking attitude.
  2. 2. 2 (2) 08 June 2012In China everything is large and fast. The market has provided PES Architects withextraordinary projects pushing the company to open-minded product development includingnew materials and methods. As an example, the experience in designing the 195 m highChengdu tower or the mighty Wuxi opera house has added high value in company’scompetences which can be utilized in other projects as well. Now the target is to get even moreremarkable projects with better margin but at the same time keeping in mind that the growth andemploying more people require a lot of focus to be put in keeping the design quality.Success comes by taking risk and by navigating with patience in the local businesscultureIn addition to having world-class quality, good personal relationships are vital in China; an activelocal presence is a prerequisite. PES Architects has developed an own business model forChina which comprises the personnel of PES Helsinki, PES Shanghai and a local Chinesepartner.Getting acquainted to the local business practices often happens by trial and error. It takes time– up to 5 years - to figure out how to navigate in the Chinese business culture with its ownspecific communication and decision structures. Chinese hierarchic organizations seem quitechaotic from the Finnish perspective and one cannot take the outspoken decisions of lowerpositioned directors for granted.Different business practices in China also challenge current financial solutions forinternationalization. Chinese want first to build trust by working together before signing thecontract as the Finns are used to requiring the contract to be signed first before starting thework. In China conscious – sometimes even daring - risks need to be taken by doing workwithout a contract (often up to 30 %) in order to get the contracts finally signed. Intensive localpresence is needed to build the trust. At the same time, one should keep in mind that theChinese people like to bargain about everything and also the best Finnish practices and valuesshould be maintained, utilized and strengthened.PES supports the state initiative to gather creative industry companies together in the Luovimoproject. In case more architectural/design companies would have participated the learnings fromother companies could have been of more value. However, a fruitful co-operation with anotherLuovimo company ACE-Production was started in China. Both of the companies target thelargest cities in China and a common offering together with marketing material was created inLuovimo’s co-creation phase.It’s important to combine Finnish forces in China and PES-Architects has also involved otherFinnish companies in their Chinese projects. However, a foreign company can get competitiveadvantage in China only by giving in their first-class team; a second-class team will not have achance. Read the 7 findings in internationalizing creativity from Luovimo companies at