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6 min

Small things can make a big difference

“Doing the right thing. Even when no one is watching.” This is how Irish writer Clive Staples Lewis once summed up what integrity meant to him. It is precisely this aspiration that the KION Group sees as being at the forefront of its corporate values. The employees of the global intralogistics group each have their own ways of putting this into practice, both at work and through remarkable deeds in their private lives. In the third week of Advent, we are shining a light on what might otherwise go unseen and presenting some of the committed people who are out there, wholeheartedly and enthusiastically doing the right thing.


Our shared KION Group values

Integrity, collaboration, courage, 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.

Doing the right thing. Talking openly and honestly with each other. Taking responsibility for our fellow human beings and the environment. Standing by our agreements and practicing what we preach. These are the principles underpinning the KION Group’s commitment to integrity, a corporate value that is embraced and put into practice by our employees each and every day, both at work and in their private lives, where many colleagues play their own individual part in making the world a better place. We have found many examples throughout the KION community of employees using their free time and labor for the benefit of their fellow human beings or the environment. We are unable to describe all of them but would like to present six representative stories that have particularly inspired us:

In spring, when the pandemic suddenly began posing major challenges to people in the USA as well, Alyssa Keeney from Nixa, Missouri, was quick to step up and find her own ways of making a practical contribution to improving the challenging situation. To do this, she first took a look around her immediate surroundings, called all her elderly neighbors (who were particularly at risk from the virus) and offered to do some shopping for them. Many were hesitant to accept the offer, but were delighted to have the opportunity to talk to someone. “This sudden isolation was very difficult for many elderly people. I think a sense of community is important to get through these tough times.”

But Alyssa also wanted to do something for the local economy – or more precisely for the small businesses that were now experiencing a sharp drop in sales. First, she and her husband ordered 200 home-made cookies from a local café and took them to the nearest hospital as a gift for the doctors and nurses – a win-win situation for the café and hospital, which she then built on by collecting donations and delivering 1,800 donuts to hospitals. Alyssa also made contact with a local women’s shelter. Although she’s “not good at sewing’” she also made and donated a lot of hand-made face masks.

And for the Christmas season, Alyssa has already stocked up on materials to produce dog toys for an animal rescue organization. The pandemic played an important part in sparking her involvement: “Coronavirus took me out of my comfort zone. Normally, I’d feel a bit awkward calling neighbors that I hardly know. Many people are feeling anxious and restless because the world is so broken right now. I believe that integrity means using this restlessness as a fuel to drive us to improve a small part of the world.”

Integrity not only provides a basis for dealing with other people, but also encompasses our relationship with the environment and sustainability. This key issue has been given a permanent presence in the form of the ‘environmental cottage’ in front of the canteen of Linde (China) headquarters in Xiamen. The idea for this unusual project was conceived in 2017. “We wanted to create a place where people could experience environmental protection for themselves,” explained Fu Xiaorong, Production Manufacturing Manager at Linde China and one of the brains behind the environmental cottage. Everything, from the design and painting of the container to the concept for the exhibition, was done by volunteers from the workforce. “Ultimately, environmental protection concerns all of us,” said Lin Yixin, HSE and Sustainability Manager at Linde China and a fellow collaborator on the project. Together with other volunteers, Fu and Lin are responsible for maintaining and running the cottage to this day. This includes holding monthly meetings of volunteer group leaders and the volunteer organization and running regular flea markets, which are always well attended. The varied training courses on subjects like the avoidance of waste, green travel, and a vegetarian diet are also popular with visitors. A large number of activities are also aimed at the children of Linde employees to raise awareness of environmental protection and conservation of resources from an early age. The volunteers’ commitment remains high, as Fu Xiaorong explains: “I think every volunteer sees this environmental work as a contribution to society and to Mother Nature, and it is a worthwhile, sensible thing to do.”

With their regular blood and plasma donations, Miroslav Gondek and František Bařina are both separately putting their hearts into helping out others – literally. Since 1996 Miroslav Gondek has donated a total of 108 times, which is more than four times a year. His blood group 0 makes him one of the most sought-after donors, as this rare blood group only occurs in about 6 percent of the world’s population. At the same time, blood from these donors can be used for virtually all patients, meaning that it plays a special role in emergency medicine and in hospital provisioning. He now sees regular donations – for which, incidentally, he receives no financial consideration – as a sacred duty: “I always help out when someone needs me, and I will always help out. No matter what the problem is,” he said.

However, the record holder for blood donations within Linde Material Handling’s Czech service organization is František Bařina. Since 1990, František has made an impressive 120 donations, as he has been donating blood every three months for thirty years. Although he has a rather common blood group compared to Miroslav, František feels that it is important for him to make a contribution by donating blood – something that may well save someone’s life. “Blood is the most valuable fluid there is, and nothing can replace it,” he explained. “And it is the civic duty of any person able to do so to help others.”

What’s the best way to spend your leisure time? While others like watching TV, shopping, or doing sports, Wang Heng has been showcasing a meaningful alternative since 2017 with his Love Volunteer program. There are now more than 40 volunteers working with him to provide help in their local area by spending time with elderly, often lonely people in the neighborhood, supporting them in care homes, cleaning up parks, and helping spruce up neglected streets. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the ‘love volunteers’ took retirement home residents to the nearby park for some time in the sun, conversation, singing, and simple pleasure in each other’s company. But in recent months, the volunteers have also found ways to get involved, for example as mobile task forces helping to take the temperature of passers-by in public spaces.

More than 800 hours of charitable work have now been contributed as part of the project. Wang regularly encourages his work colleagues to participate: “The more colleagues take part, the more people in need we can help,” he asserted. For him, integrity is closely tied to his culture: “It is a traditional value of the Chinese people and a fundamental guiding principle in my life. It points the way for me in society and in my interactions with other people, enabling me to repeatedly experience small moments of success that make me recognize my personal value.”

It is people like Alyssa Keeney, Miroslav Gondek, František Bařina, Wang Heng, Fu Xiaorong and Lin Yixin who deserve our recognition for their energy, willingness to help, and dedication. We are proud to count them among our worldwide team as inspiring ambassadors of integrity – who do the right thing. Even when no one is watching.