Nadabe ‘Peter’ Petersen
Nadabe ‘Peter’ Petersen

The man who loves engines

As a child, Nadabe ‘Peter’ Petersen was “mesmerised” by the Caterpillar equipment he saw on construction sites. By the time he was ready for college he knew that mechanical engineering, and engines in particular, would be his life’s work.

As he says, “Engines were, are, and I believe always will be my passion.”

Today he satisfies that passion as a service manager for Perkins distributor Secodi in Spain. Nadabe leads a ten-person team of Madrid-based technicians that serves Perkins customers throughout Spain.

“The thing I look forward to every day is being productive and solving problems,” he says. “In the office that means brainstorming solutions and sharing knowledge. In the field it means interacting with a customer who has a problem and solving it as quickly as possible.

“Either way the more uncomfortable the challenge the greater the satisfaction in overcoming it. That’s how you grow as a professional.”

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Problem solving

In pre-Covid times Nadabe’s day typically began in the Madrid office where he coordinated Perkins training for team members, shared insights and experiences gained in the field and addressed any customer issues that needed to be managed that day. Now, many of those functions are handled virtually from his home in southern Portugal, but that does not mean his passion for engines has been side-lined. There is still hands-on work to be done.

A recent example concerned a customer using Perkins® 2806 engines to power multiple generator sets in a co-generation facility. Nadabe was called in to determine why two of them had failed at roughly the same time after 2,800 hours of service.

Nadabe’s team performed an exhaustive study of the entire installation which included both primary and secondary heat exchangers, some of which supplied hot water to the facility, a chiller and a complex control system. As part of the study the inlet and outlet temperature of the engine coolant was recorded.

“The difference was almost 50° C,” Nadabe said, “and it should be no more than 10° to 15° under normal circumstances and certainly never higher than 20°. The issue was thermal fatigue because the incoming coolant was so cold.

“It was not an engine problem at all.”

Resolving the issue required changes to both the cooling system hardware and the control settings that regulated temperatures throughout the system.

“It took a lot of hard work to identify the real problem and then fix it,” Nadabe said, "but when we were done, we had established an enduring trust-based relationship with the customer. From that day forward their hard and fast rule is that nobody touches that system but us.”

Technical and relationships training

Nadabe observes that such trust-based relationships are particularly important in the Spanish market and a Secodi technician is the first point of contact for a Perkins customer whose engine requires service. He places a lot of emphasis on technician training, not only in technical subjects but also in the “softer” aspects of relationship building.

“My rule of thumb is that a happy customer will tell four people about the experience, but an unhappy one will tell the story to 11,” Nadabe observes. “We’re working hard to regain the momentum we lost last year to the Covid shutdowns and building trust-based relationships is a big part of our effort.”

Nadabe’s college Master’s thesis was about emissions impact on human health and the environmental impact of burning fossil fuels. That makes him keenly aware of both the evolving regulatory situation and the impact of more sophisticated emission controls on the customers he serves.

“Most of the emission-related issues we see are caused by users who don’t understand the requirements of the new technology and, frankly, have not read the manual. Realistically, every new technology creates a lack of expertise among both users and the service organisations that support them, it’s inevitable.

Nadabe ‘Peter’ Petersen

“But, the client does not care about that, they simply expect us to solve the problem and get them back to work. That’s where the kind of training Perkins provides makes a big difference. Once again, it’s the foundation for enduring trust-based relationships that drive part and service sales over the long term.”

Nadabe doesn’t leave his passion for engines at the office. He spends much of his spare time “wrenching” on cars and motorcycles which he also raced for a number of years. And while his days competing in triathlon are past, he still runs, swims, exercises and cycles regularly.

But perhaps the most unusual outlet for his passion for engines and his competitive spirit was participating in ATV rock climbing in southern Portugal. “I’ve left a live axle behind on occasion,” he says, “but that’s part of the game.”

Whether it’s diagnosing diesel generator sets or reattaching ATV axles, it’s all in a day’s work for Nadabe Petersen for whom “Engines were, are, and I believe always will be my passion.”



“The more uncomfortable the challenge the greater satisfication in overcoming it. That's how you grow as a professional.”

- Nadabe Petersen


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