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Ups and downs with KONE

The elevator company supplied not only the tallest Czech buildings, but is also working on Jeddah Tower

If you have gone up to the top of any of the skyscrapers in the Czech Republic, odds are you rode in a KONE elevator. The company supplied elevators and escalators for both of country's the tallest buildings: the AZ Tower in Brno and City Tower in Prague's Pankrác district. They also supplied the National Technical Library, which opened in 2009.

“I urge everyone to look around and I'm sure you'll see KONE elevators regularly. But it's not just about the elevators. We sell and escalators, moving walkways, automatic doors, turnstiles and the like,”  said KONE sales representative Martin Slatinka (picture on the left).

Selling elevators is a bit complicated, according to Slatinka. The company has to work with architects, designers and investors on implementing solutions.

KONE is not only active in the Czech Republic.  The company is participating on the construction of the Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia, which will be the biggest building in the world when it is completed.  Construction began in 2013 and should finish in 2020. The building will reach a height of 1008 meters, with the top floor at 630 meters and an observatory at 637 meters.

“We have a lot of pride because the elevators there will reach 600 meters, which is a tremendous height in one shaft. Those who are involved in such major projects then share their experiences with others. Not only how to sell it, but how it is technically implemented,” Slatinka said.

The industry is also changing. As buildings are more concerned with security, it is becoming more common for one contractor to supply turnstiles as well as escalators and elevators and security doors, which can all be operated as one system. Users will have one access card, and problems with the system can often be solved with a smartphone.

On the other hand, the sales representative oversees out the entire order, dealing with architects, construction companies, housing associations and so on. When necessary, there is a

whole support team the representative can call on.

The average day of the salesman at KONE includes meeting with clients to present solutions, but there is also time in the office behind the computer. “Each project is a little different, so you can imagine that the process of offering the solution to the customer can take some time,” Slatinka said.

Sometimes what a client wants is not clear. “When we get a difficult to implement project or proposal inappropriate for a building, we try to find out why the client wants it and what he hopes to achieve. This is essential. We don't talk the client out of the idea, We consider the question until we know what is requited for the project,” Slatinka said.

To be successful in the elevator business, a background in mechanical engineering is needed as a start. KONE encourages its employees to become experts, and the first year includes a lot of training but in the end it is worth it, according to Slatinka. The sales representatives have to take a pro-active approach and have support from their superiors, he added.

Slatinka began working for KONE when he was still in school, starting with a six-month internship. He said the company was really supportive of him finishing his education as well as beginning his career.

He added that KONE is more than a company, it is really a team. New employees get a chance to be part of company that is setting the global pace in its sector, he said.

KONE Company profile on Prague.TV, Living Like a Local / Raymond Johnston - Prague, 09.08.2016 

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