“Littelfuse” in Kaunas: We See Growing Interest in the Manufacturing Sector
The division of the US technology company “Littelfuse” in Kaunas has been working for seven years now. During this time, it has not only produced various sensors for the automotive industry but also created and developed completely new, high value-added technology solutions. Among the biggest advantages of the development in Kaunas, representatives of the global company mention not only a highly qualified workforce, a convenient geographical location, but also the ability of people to adapt to cultural differences. Aidas Kučys, Head of the company in Kaunas, claims that the stereotypes about the manufacturing sector are no longer realistic and the interest in a career in this sector is growing.
The history of “Littelfuse” began more than ninety years ago when the US engineer Edward V. Sundt set up a small company in his garage where he created and developed the world’s first small, fast-acting protective fuse for small household appliances.
Since then, the company has grown to more than 40 representative offices and more than twelve thousand employees worldwide, creating innovative solutions for both home appliances, cars, mobile devices, and complex medical equipment, aircraft, or even space exploration equipment. The company’s product portfolio consists of a wide range of fuses, controllers, and sensors.
“The company entered the sensor market at the latest, i.e. in 2012, when the Swedish company “Accel”, which owned a car sensor factory in Kaunas, was bought. Since then, we have expanded more than twice our size, and we stand out from other companies of this profile here in Kaunas because we run not only serial production but also create and develop new technological solutions. And this is a very high value-added activity,” says Aidas Kučys, Head of “Littelfuse LT”.
More than a convenient geographical location
What qualities attract such an international company to Kaunas?
Aidas says: “First of all, the higher education institutions that are preparing well-trained engineers and other highly qualified employees. Secondly, Kaunas is in a geographically convenient place. Many of our company executives live in other cities, and Kaunas is in the center of Lithuania, so it is quite easily reached from both the seaside and the capital. More broadly, Lithuania is attractive to global companies with branches and customers both in the East and in the West. We are practically situated in a halfway of Europe, a lot of people speak at least a few foreign languages, and while being people of a small state, we can easily understand and adapt to cultural differences.”
Photo. Aidas Kučys: Head of “Littelfuse LT”. Photographer: Kristina Sabaliauskaitė.
Attracting and retaining high-skilled talents is a challenge for every company that creates high value-added products. Aidas Kučys admits that the market situation is really interesting at the moment, and the competition is quite strong and motivating to step up, look for different ways to attract and retain potential young and experienced employees.
“Employees make decisions to work in the company by evaluating work content and corporate culture, rather than the company’s name or fame. We are pleased that more and more young people are interested in production and in a way discovers this sector again by successfully pursuing a career in the manufacturing. I think that this change is not a coincidence. It is the result of the hard work when several manufacturing companies have been spreading the information, organizing tours around production premises, familiarizing young people with a wide range of jobs and professions and related professional opportunities,” Aidas shares his insights.
By the way, while no longer being a newbie in the production sector, he emphasizes that some of the production-related myths no longer match the reality: “For example, a lot of people think this is an exclusively male area. But it is quite the opposite: in Kaunas, for example, about 80 percent of employees in our company are women. Another myth, which is probably not specific to our sector, is related to the age of employees. Employers are allegedly looking for young candidates, and they are not interested in older people. But the truth is that a truly stable, long-term successful businesses have a very well-developed culture that does not and cannot be a place for prejudice or double standards”.
Partnership with higher education institutions
“Littelfuse” cooperates with the Kaunas University of Technology: they not only support university events, participate in “Wanted” Career Days, but also invite students to join the “Littelfuse Engineering Academy” which is organized for the third time in a row. After it, the best students receive job offers. Moreover, the company’s employees become mentors for KTU students, give lectures and participate in various projects.
The company also cooperates with Kaunas University of Applied Sciences and Kaunas University of Applied Engineering Sciences whose students are offered high-level internship opportunities: a typical internship at “Littelfuse” lasts for 6 months, it is paid, and after the internship is completed, many students remain to work in the company.
From Mexico to Panevėžys
Employees at “Littelfuse” are attracted by corporate culture, excellent career opportunities and attention to employee education and qualification: whether they would be administrative or manufacturing personnel. Today, 45% of employees in the company have completed Lean training, and this number is expected to increase to 80% in the near future.
Photo: Aida Kundrotaitė, Human Resources Manager at “Littelfuse LT”. Photographer: Kristina Sabaliauskaitė.
When looking for administrative staff, we try to stay flexible: if we find a specialist in another city, we try to make it possible for him/her to work remotely at least some part of the time.
“We are a global company, therefore, many meetings are held remotely. With modern technologies it is easy to form teams whose members can work in one project from Mexico, USA, and Klaipėda or Panevėžys,” says Aida Kundrotaitė, Human Resources Manager at “Littelfuse LT”.
Thus, it is not surprising that the employees come from a wide range of places: a large part of them have been employed after returning from emigration, some of the team members live in Vilnius, Klaipėda, Panevėžys, and other cities of Lithuania. Recently, there were agreements signed to hire colleagues from Italy and other countries.