*CORALVILLE -- It's a few minutes past 6:30 a.m. Thursday and Andrius Pelegrimas is the first to arrive at Hy-Vee. The 21-year-old Lithuanian orders his pancake breakfast and waits.
Within 15 minutes, Jaak Tamre, 20, of Estonia, arrives and shortly after, Veiko Tell, 24, another Estonian, arrives. Just like every Monday through Saturday morning, this is how the three men start their day.
"It's not very far from our headquarters," Tamre said. The three live at a host house in Coralville.
For the past three months, the three men have met at the Coralville Hy-Vee for breakfast before pounding the pavement to sell educational books for Southwestern Co. The Nashville, Tenn.,-based company markets family-oriented educational reference products through a sales force of more than 3,000 students each summer.
The three cover neighborhoods in the Iowa City-Coralville area as well as Linn, Washington, Iowa and Cedar counties. Pelegrimas and Tell drive cars while Tamre rides a bicycle on his route.
'They're very friendly in Iowa," Pelegrimas said. "People wave to each other. It's kind of cool."
In less than two weeks, the three will leave Coralville and head back to school.
Other early-bird Hy-Vee regulars have .............
............. grown fond of the three men -- especially the very vocal and exuberant dance they do every morning in the parking lot to fire them up for the day.
"They really go at it. They don't mess around," said Iowa City resident Bill Forst, who eats breakfast at the Coralville Hy-Vee every morning. "It's really impressive when they do that every single morning without fail."
All three men are students at colleges in their home countries. For Pelegrimas and Tamre, they said this is their first summer selling books and their first time in the United States. On the other hand, Tell said this is his third year with Southwestern.
Called "our leader" by the others, Tell arrived last. He sat down, dumped four packets of sugar in his coffee and started listening to what he said was a Southwestern conference call on the other end of his earpiece. Every five minutes, his wristwatch beeped, "to keep me awake," he said.
"I'm either on the phone, sleeping or working," Tell said adding that he likes his job because it is able to help boost his communication and management skills. "I've talked to 10,000 people in the three summers."
Forst said he hopes to learn the dance the three men do to carry on the tradition.
"I will miss having them around," Forst said. "They've been a real pleasure to have around."