Thumping the table
With the help of Rypinski and Jubon, a cell-planning system for the Netherlands was quickly produced. The team traveled to the offices of the Dutch telecommunications agency in The Hague to demonstrate their new-found expertise in cell planning.
The Dutch agreed reluctantly to see Lundqvist and his small delegation. The meeting began awkwardly, recalls Åke Persson, who had overall responsibility for the deal and therefore participated in all the more important meetings with the client, and the atmosphere was tense. “In the end, Åke Lundqvist lost his temper, thumped the table and pointed out that as they had come all the way from Stockholm for this meeting, the least they could expect was a hearing of what L.M. Ericsson had to say,” Persson says.
Lundqvist’s maneuver worked: the Dutch were persuaded that L.M. Ericsson had the cell-planning expertise. It was also essential that Hans Flinck was also present. “He explained that L.M. Ericsson now sold mobile systems. L.M. Ericsson would either supply the entire package with exchanges, base stations, cell planning and so on, or it would deliver nothing at all,” says Ljunggren.
But after some time, Lundqvist called Ljunggren again. “I was in San Francisco with Chandos Rypinski, who was going to help us sell a police radio system to the LA Police. Åke said: ‘Drop whatever you are doing. We have been told we are too expensive compared with Motorola. Ask Chan if he knows how Motorola usually tenders,’” Ljunggren says.
ONE THING CERTAIN
“Chandos, who had competed many times with Motorola and other companies, said that one thing was certain: Motorola’s tender would contain only what had been specified, definitely nothing more. On the other hand we had tendered a complete system, including for instance very advanced aerials for each base station site. They almost certainly accounted for several million crowns. They were not included in the tender specifications but the engineers pointed out that after all nothing would work without aerials.”
Lundqvist now requested another meeting with the Dutch. He explained that he suspected that Motorola’s tender was not comparable with L.M. Ericsson’s, and that SRA had moreover made adjustments to the price of combiners and multi-switches after talks with the Swedish suppliers, Magnetic and Radiosystem.
Mats Ljunggren again: “This meeting was also attended by Olle Ulvenholm, who had then become deputy CEO for SRA, Åke Persson and me. We were given only a few minutes for our presentation but the client had to agree that our tender contained a lot more than they had asked for. After various negotiations we got the order.”
The Dutch specifications required continued product development, which delayed deliveries significantly, but the important thing was that the companies had evolved their business concept: from now on, they were to sell complete mobile telephone systems.
"THIS IS WHERE THE JOURNEY BEGAN"
Ulf J. Johansson, who took over as head of mobile operations at SRA in 1983, says: “Up till then, deals had been based on supplying components. Now we showed them that we could take on overall responsibility. This is where that journey began and it was Åke that lay behind it.”
On the trip back from the Netherlands in a private rented aircraft, together with Lundqvist and Ulvenholm in the late autumn of 1981, Persson was asked if he wanted to move to SRA and take charge of the division for mobile telephony that the two SRA executives intended to set up. Persson said yes and took over his new post in February 1982.
Despite his ten years at L.M. Ericsson before the Dutch project, Persson had never visited SRA in Kista. “The deals we made at SRA could never have been brought off within the context of L.M. Ericsson at Telefonplan,” he says. “At SRA we were a bunch of cowboys who worked day and night and spurred each other on. We had total freedom and for me that was a wonderful experience.”
Author: Svenolof Karlsson & Anders Lugn