Business
Kaunas IN
2021 05 31
Kauno tiltai: we don’t only work in Kaunas, and we build more than bridges

The construction of the new bridge over the Neris near Kleboniškis, the reconstruction of the Kaunas Castle roundabout or the repair works on P. Vileišis Bridge are a few of the currently well-known infrastructure improvement projects of the city carried out by a well-known contractor Kauno tiltai. The company’s name is not a reflection of its geography and type of work. The enterprise, which has been operating for seven decades, does not only work in Kaunas and builds more than bridges. Get acquainted with one of the larger employers in Kaunas, and one of the Lithuanian construction companies paying the highest taxes.

AB Kauno tiltai has been implementing transport infrastructure construction projects for more than 70 years. During all that time it has built more than a 100 bridges and viaducts, built and reconstructed many roads throughout Lithuania, and has helped Kaunas to get rid of the “pothole city” label since a while back.

Currently, Kauno tiltai belongs to Polish investors. Its shareholder is Trakcja, the biggest Polish transport infrastructure construction company, and the shares are listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. The company has more than 800 employees and about 200 of them are highly qualified engineers. During the season (March – December) the number of employees increases to 900 (almost up to a 1,000, depending on the number of ongoing projects and their scope).

“Our work portfolio includes most technically complex engineering structures. For example, Vilnius western bypass, Via Baltica, Jakai roundabout overpass near Klaipėda, Panemunė Bridge in Kaunas, overpass in Rusnė or Kaunas FEZ viaduct. We consider all objects to be significant and do not classify them as important or less important. In addition, you will find our objects in Latvia, and we are currently focusing on expanding in Sweden, where we have been operating since 2015. We have established ourselves in this Scandinavian country as builders of viaducts and also had a railway project and in the fall of this year, we will start building our new unique structure – the longest wooden bridge in Sweeden,” head of AB Kauno tiltai Aldas Rusevičius says.

Last year, the company’s revenue amounted to 131.7 million euros, with a net profit of 1.6 million. According to the State Tax Inspectorate data, Kauno tiltai has already paid around 2 million euros in taxes in the first quarter of 2021, which makes Kauno tiltai one of the construction companies in Lithuania paying the most taxes.

The teams are not made up exclusively of Kaunas residents

Since the company implements its projects throughout Lithuania, depending on the location, it also seeks workers from the surrounding areas or employs them on a business trip basis. Teams of specialists for work on foreign projects are also formed. The more of those projects and the larger the objects, the bigger the team. So, it is not surprising that every year, around March, when the work starts, the company faces the same problem – the lack of workers, machine operators (graders, rollers, cutters, laying machines, etc.).

On the one hand, candidates are deterred by the seasonality of work and the specifics of physical work. On the other hand, in order to ensure the quality work processes, the company requires experience from its employed specialists.

“We are not short-sighted, we see that when there is a critical shortage of specialists, we have to change the situation ourselves. Therefore, every year we implement internal professional development programs, offering existing colleagues or external candidates to participate in machine-operator training, acquire a specialty, and at the same time expand internal career opportunities. When trying to prepare specialists, we pay attention to a certain form of apprenticeship when we invite an inexperienced person to learn certain specific skills. Quite quickly, a motivated and receptive student can find themselves among the highly skilled colleagues with a corresponding salary,” Jūratė Mališkienė, Personnel Manager of AB Kauno tiltai, says. She emphasizes that that every new employee can be taught the most important work principles if only they want to improve and grow.

It also emphasizes the importance of internships: for students, this can be a springboard to a successful career, as it is during internships that a person’s personal and professional qualities are revealed. By observing, getting involved and asking, the trainee is noticed, receives good recommendations and, if not immediately, then in the future – a call that offers a job position.

Challenges for the road construction industry

A common challenge that the entire road construction industry faces is the apparent shortage of road engineering professionals. There are worries about the future specialists. It is noticed that this specialty is becoming undervalued, unpopular. The number of young people choosing it is decreasing, as evidenced by the statistics of higher education institutions that provide this type of education. There is also a lack of designers and qualified supervisors in this field. According to the representatives of Kauno tiltai, professionals and supervisors taking care of the engineering part of road construction must not only be able to organize construction processes, have management skills, but also speak foreign languages (especially if a project is developed in foreign markets). And the most important thing is lifelong learning to keep up with innovation and acquire the necessary competencies.

“We believe that the profession of road engineer needs to get more and constant publicity, with a special focus on the target group, which is yet to choose its future studies. That is why we are developing the activities of the Akademija@Kaunotiltai platform. They include tours of the objects the company is implementing and its laboratory for schoolchildren or university students as well as remote lessons on the topics of road engineering,” A. Rusevičius says.

To this end, Kauno tiltai also builds close social partnerships with the country’s higher education institutions that prepare road, railway, and civil engineering specialists. The company actively participates in career day events, discussions and final thesis evaluations of KTU, Vilnius Tech and Kaunas Technical College students. In addition, it advises on the improvement of study programs. Because the company’s operating guidelines are drawn with a great understanding that the mutual involvement of business and science in the long run makes it easier to find new forms of cooperation and attract students – the future and vital employees of this business.

Source: Kauno tiltai.