2020-12-18

Truly excellent commitment

If you want to shape the future of intralogistics, you need outstanding products, services, and solutions. This requires not only the necessary degree of innovation but also a workforce that is committed to absolutely top performance. The extent to which the corporate value of ‘excellence’ underpins our employees’ work for our customers has become particularly clear in this challenging year. In the run-up to Christmas, we showcase five people who during the spring lockdown redefined what excellence means at KION.

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.

Understanding customers’ needs and shaping the sector through innovation, all while creating customer benefits that are second to none. This is the ambition that the KION Group has enshrined in its corporate identity with the value of ‘excellence’. This year has highlighted what excellence really means and how it depends on each and every one of us. When the lockdown brought the entire world to a virtual standstill in the spring, it was not just our brand companies’ products that kept the most important supply lines open, it was also the many KION employees who went above and beyond in this exceptional situation. We are presenting five of them today:

Intralogistics play a vital role when it comes to maintaining supplies to the general public. And it is not just about the performance of the industrial trucks but also the service that goes with it. That was why Jaime Naish decided at the drop of a hat to spend ten nights in his camper van at a customer site during the spring lockdown in the UK. And with good reason: The customer was a large logistics company that supplies food and beverages to numerous UK retailers. The company continued to operate within the regional restrictions during the pandemic as the population still needed to be supplied with everyday goods. Jamie stayed on site to ensure that the customer’s fleet of industrial trucks remained operational at all times.

He missed his family during this time, of course, but the decision was an obvious one for Jamie: “The company was very grateful, as I am an important part of their operation. Without the trucks being repaired and maintained, the company would not be able to provide the products they deliver.” Describing his understanding of excellence, he says: “I think excellence is defined by going the extra mile by providing services beyond the expected requirements. Staying on it for the customer’s benefit, with no request needed.”

KION Group IT also faced an unprecedented situation in March. There were numerous office-based employees throughout the Group who suddenly had to work from home in line with the recommended safety measures. A huge challenge for the KION Group IT team, as David Zydek explains: “In Germany alone, we had to configure an additional 300 laptops so that employees could work from home.” His team completed this mammoth task in just three days: “We only managed it by immediately assigning all available staff to the task and working with affected employees across the sites.” The task was by no means finished after three hard days of assembly-line configuration, as the handover of the devices to employees and the final personalization had to be coordinated too. At the same time, VPN access for the devices had to be arranged and configured. The brief on-site induction and the handover of the laptops had to be coordinated and carried out under strict coronavirus safety measures. “This was only possible thanks to the commitment and availability of the on-site support teams,” David says.

The sudden switch to working from home also led to additional queries from employees and increased the number of calls to the IT help desk. On a normal day, KION Group IT would deal with around 200 calls to the service desk, but at the start of the lockdown this rose to over 1,200 tickets per day, all waiting for urgent attention. At the same time, the stability of the new collaboration tools had to be ensured and steadily improved. “Our colleagues around the world were facing similar issues. Through close and seamless collaboration with the international on-site support teams, we were able to quickly get users up and running from home,” David adds. The IT team was motivated by the many messages of gratitude and the positive feedback from the entire KION community, which remains well-connected even from home thanks to the excellent work of KION Group IT.

Units that are usually highly dependent on direct customer contact, such as sales, had to adapt to working from home too. “I now often rely on video calls to stay in touch with my customers. I never did that before the lockdown,” says Grzegorz Gnitecki when asked whether customer relationship management can actually work without on-site visits. Now hardly a day goes by without him contacting a customer via video call to get a picture of the requirements, discuss details, or prepare quotes. “It works much better than expected. I advise the customer face-to-face, then take care of the quotation and usually discuss the contract again with my contact via video,” he explains. Companies appreciate that the experts at STILL are still available to them whenever they need them. “This is a difficult situation for our customers too, and it’s important that we get through this pandemic together and in the best possible way. I’ve no doubt that our working relationships will be even stronger for it,” Grzegorz says. His colleague, Robert Zbrzeźniak, agrees: “It might be a challenge, but it’s doable. At the end of the day, it’s all about attitude. We’ve had to accept the situation and think of how we can still be there for our customers.”

Susanne Reduth, who heads up the rental and used truck business at the Dortmund/Krefeld main branch of STILL, and her team had to quickly adapt to the situation during the lockdown while remaining available to all customers. “We knew that the move to working from home had to happen quickly and while day-to-day business was still going on,” Susanne says. “After all, critical industries such as food retailers and logistics are relying on our rental solutions right now and need the additional trucks immediately.”

Her team adapted to the new customer requirements in record time. “We have access to over 33,000 rental trucks across Europe, and focus entirely on the individual needs of our customers. And in some cases, these can be considerable,” Susanne explains. “The highest demand is mainly from logistics companies, beverage suppliers, supermarket chains, and service providers. Our rental trucks are used to cover periods when order volumes are high.” Being available to customers at all times is an absolute priority for the team: “We know how important it is to meet customers’ requirements, especially in the current situation. And we’re happy to do that because we’re always here for our customers.”

People like David Zydek, Susanne Reduth, Jamie Naish, Robert Zbrzeźniak, and Grzegorz Gnitecki deserve recognition for their flexibility, reliability, and outstanding commitment. We are delighted to count them among our worldwide team as role models for the levels of excellence that we strive to achieve at KION at all times and in every way.

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