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6 min

A tribute to brave heroes

Many companies profess their commitment to the values they have developed, but these only gain true meaning through the people who live by them. Time and again, our employees prove this is the case at the KION Group by achieving amazing things at our sites and in their communities through courage, collaboration, integrity, and excellence. Over the coming weeks and in keeping with the spirit of Christmas, when the focus is on togetherness, we will be featuring people from the global KION community whose stories have impressed us. First off are five employees who have shown great courage this year.


Our shared KION Group values

Courage, collaboration, integrity, and excellence are the four values of the KION Group and its brand companies STILL, Linde Material Handling, Baoli, and Dematic. Over 1,000 employees worldwide were consulted during the development of our shared values. Colleagues at all hierarchical levels and across all business units and regions were involved in the survey. This is how we ensured that the values reflect and represent the entire KION Group. And it is the only way to guarantee that our values are and remain an integral part of our everyday work.

Courage is essential to the KION Group. It helps us to be – and remain – a pioneer in our industry and enables us to drive forward new ideas, shape change, and launch innovations. Courage also helps us all to do our bit in reaching our shared targets. This requires people who excel themselves time and again, whether in their professional or private lives and whether in their everyday activities or when faced with exceptional situations. We are proud that the KION Group brings people together who are courageous and committed with all their heart and soul, even outside of work. Here we present some of our heroes:

On July 5 this year, Yan Yonghong suddenly heard cries for help from the sea during a family trip to the beach. He saw two children and an older woman who were unable to get out of the water on their own. A young girl and the woman were quite far out at sea, and a small boy was standing helpless in the water near the beach. With a huge effort, Yan managed to save the two children first. While helping the woman, he had to battle with the uneven ground and mud underfoot and stumbled several times himself. “The water came up to my chin. I was constantly slipping and it was difficult to move. But I simply couldn’t give up,” says Yan. Back on dry land, Yan politely said goodbye and left without giving his name.

Family members of the rescued people later searched for him via WeChat, a Chinese social media platform. Yan’s heroic deed soon spread virally through WeChat Moments, and the Xiamen Daily newspaper contacted him for an interview. Shortly after, Ching Pong Quek, Chief Asia Pacific & Americas Officer, presented Yan with a certificate on behalf of the KION Group in recognition of his selfless efforts.

On the morning of July 3, a serious accident occurred near Poznań in Poland. Krzysztof Tarczewski was on his way to a call-out when a car suddenly sped across from the opposite lane and came to a halt on its roof right in front of his van. He stopped immediately, helped the injured woman out of the vehicle, took her safely to the side of the road, and called the emergency services. A retired firefighter also stopped at the scene and looked after the woman, so Krzysztof was able to secure the accident site and clear the vehicle parts from the road. He then disabled the ignition and blocked a leak in the petrol line to reduce the risk of fire.

An eyewitness who had seen Krzysztof in his uniform wrote a letter of thanks to the STILL headquarters in Poland. This is how his colleagues found out about the help he provided. For him, it was the natural thing to do, as he himself had been in a similarly perilous situation when he was involved in an accident with a truck on the A2 autobahn near Dortmund. At the time, other road users helped him out of the car wreck and saved his life. “Ever since, I have known how important it is to stop and help, even just a little, as time is of the essence. Courage is an important, conscious attitude toward danger, but it must always be accompanied by common sense. That is the principle I follow.”

When high temperatures and months of extreme drought caused devastating bush fires in Australia earlier this year, the help of volunteers was crucial. One of them was Hayden Hofland, who has been working for the rural fire brigade in his home town of Hazelbrook near Sydney for 17 years. In this difficult time for many Australians, he showed great courage and real commitment. The most important thing about being a volunteer firefighter, he says, is “to know that you’re trying to help people you don’t even know – just to do something good for this world”. He has been in many difficult situations in his career as a firefighter. Nevertheless, this year’s bush fires, which raged for weeks on end, were a particular challenge. Day after day, his team faced the dangers to protect people and their homes. They often found themselves suddenly facing a wall of fire and had to react quickly, as fires in dry areas can change direction in an instant due to the wind.

Hayden plays down his motivation for doing what he does: “The job has to be done, so I’m doing it.” He is following a family tradition, as his father was a firefighter for 48 years, and his nephew has applied to join the fire service in nearby Llandilo. He will be the third generation of the family to choose this path.

Claudio Langianni started volunteering as a child in a local association in the Tuscan town of Prato near Florence. As a young man, he trained as a second level volunteer rescuer and ambulance driver. He then volunteered in disaster response, providing initial help by setting up tents in areas where natural disasters had struck and people needed support, for example during the floods in Versilia (Tuscany) in 1996 and the earthquake in Nocera Umbra (Umbria) in 1997. And that’s not all: In addition to helping out in the Pubblica Assistenza “L’Avvenire” Prato volunteer association, Claudio is also organizing the pandemic teams in clinics and at the COVID-19 drive-in test centers. The situation at the moment is very tense, he says. But he has not lost the desire or the courage to help others, even if he puts himself in danger by doing so.

An event that he often remembers and which made a lasting impression on him happened a few years ago. One week before Christmas, his team helped a man who suffered a heart attack near the main train station in Prato. Every Christmas since, this man brings gifts and sweets to the volunteer association as a sign of his deep respect and gratitude.

Three years ago, Leopoldo Bolognini embarked on a training course that enables him to take part in the relief operations of the Italian disaster response services. His dog, Willy, also received training as a rescue dog. After extensive training with many practical sessions in all weathers, the two passed the difficult final exams with flying colors. While Leopoldo’s team has already taken part in many rescue missions, pit bull Willy is still waiting for his opportunity to save a life. People often get lost in the woods and numerous glacial crevasses in the region’s mountains, and with the risk of hypothermia so high the rescue teams have to respond quickly and efficiently.

Leopoldo prefers to focus on the abilities of his beloved four-legged friend rather than talk about himself: “If I were a missing person, I would be happy to be searched for and found by Willy,” he says, praising the acute senses of his canine companion. “He has successfully rescued buried earthquake victims in various simulated training scenarios.” It can only be a matter of time before Willy is also called up for duty alongside Leopoldo.

People like Yan Yonghong, Krzysztof Tarczewski, Hayden Hofland, Claudio Langianni, and Leopoldo Bolognini deserve our utmost respect. We are proud to count them among our worldwide team: people who never hesitate when it counts, but instead have the courage to proceed.