A POWERHOUSE OF A WOMAN
Published: 4/3, 2020
The future belongs to women. That much is obvious. Already today there is not a single profession in which women haven’t successfully equaled or surpassed men. Even traditionally male-oriented industries such as concrete sawing and demolition cannot buck the trend, with women in these businesses now equally good at steering both excavators and companies. Brigitte Peterson, the President of GSS International is a living example of it. Andrei Bushmarin reports.
Located in Citrus Heights, Calif., GSS International is a sales and service outfit that represents Baier Tools - a worldwide recognized manufacturer of concrete cutting and drilling systems based out of Stuttgart. Baier is currently represented in some 60 countries all over the globe, with North America being one of its most profitable overseas markets. This is a direct result of the tireless efforts Brigitte Peterson and her team have been putting into promoting the German company on the American continent.
Winning German Bodybuilding Championship
Born in 1960 in Ludwigshafen, an industrial city in Germany, Peterson has had sporting blood running through her veins since day one. In her twenties, she won the German bodybuilding championship and finished third in Europe-wide competition. It was also thanks to the sport of squash that she met her future collaborator Thomas Schwab, the general manager of Baier Tools.
When her sporting career started to wind down, Peterson moved into business, taking up various managerial positions, mostly associated with sales. With her winning personality, she never had any problem connecting with people, which is a key quality in a salesperson.
‘Going out West’
In1990, Peterson married an American and moved with him in the U.S. She had a string of various jobs there, but a wholly new chapter in her career began in 2015 when GSS International was established as a Baier Tools sales channel. It was her first encounter with concrete sawing and drilling but, as anybody from the industry will tell you, people come into this business from all walks of life.
Peterson’s extensive sales experience came very handy in her new role as CEO and sales manager for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Her first-hand knowledge of both the German and American mindset was another factor in the rapid growth of the fledgling company, with GSS standing for “German Solutions for Success.”
Asked if she ever felt any negativity from her male peers, Peterson says that it was exactly the opposite – all the people she has met so far in the industry have been very encouraging and supportive. She believes that no woman should be afraid of choosing a career in construction as most are born communicators, with the industry being all about communication and interpersonal skills.
Four Strong Sales Forces in the U.S.
Although the offering of a high-quality reliable product is a prerequisite for any successful supplier of construction machinery, it is the after sales service and support that makes all the difference. According to Peterson, this is particularly evident in the U.S. where people are used to top-notch service.
At the moment the Baier brand is better recognized on the West Coast, which is probably related to the fact that GSS is based in California. The most sought after Baier machines include the 11-blade channel cutter, dry coring system and a range of mixers. To spread awareness about Baier solutions, the GSS team (which consists of four sales people besides Peterson) exhibits at every World of Concrete trade show and regularly arranges and attends open-house events across the continent.