The Architect needs to think with the door and window specialist
2020 / 04 / 08
Home > News > The Architect needs to think with the door and window specialist

The Architect needs to think with the door and window specialist

Reliability, Precision, Quality and True Value Creation – These are the principles behind the operation of Etna Kft, 30 years old next year. In addition to public institutions, listed building refurbishments and traditional residential buildings, the company now sees a growing opportunity in the premium family home sector. However, in any segment in which they work then, in addition to general construction they also deal with architectural and interior design. Managing director Zisidis Nicos says he always wants to create something that one can stand up to with his back straight.

The company was founded by your father. How do you think a dynastic company in the construction industry can operate sustainably in Hungary today?

My father founded the company in 1991, when we recall that the first limited liability companies in Hungary were established at that time; this would already be a story itself.

There have been many moments in the last nearly 30 years where it would have been easier to start with a clean sheet. We entered traps that meant no pay-outs, or jobs where we did not break even, but lost money.

One of my father’s most important legacies that he left us was not to leave any work unfinished. It must be honestly finished whether well or badly. There was a big tuition fee for this, but I can count on one hand how many jobs we left behind unfinished. My father and I did everything we could to ensure that all work was completed fairly. Even if it didn’t benefit us.

Unfortunately, my father has not been with us for 3 years, but he worked with us almost to the last minute. And all the while, it brought the quality, everything done very nicely and evenly, that made today’s Etna.

By the way, was it automatic to take the company further?

I have two brothers, both of whom are architects. We all grew up under dad’s hands. We started with physical work, such as digging and assisting work, and gradually, as we grew up to it mentally, we started doing professional tasks.

At the age of 10 I started giving out the tools and I worked every summer until I was 26. My brothers were a bit less present in construction; they were more oriented towards design. They are very skilled at drawing freehand and by computer, they are very talented.

Of course, it took time for everyone to accept that the youngest boy would be his dad’s deputy. Today, all three of us work for the company, and we have my cousin, who is in charge of finance, who joined us roughly 10 years ago.

What I find most important about my work is that I can see the workflows well: wherever I am directed, in any profession, I can quickly get an overview of who is doing what and how to make it faster and more efficient.

Even at a young age, workers were not very fond of me because I always filled up the dead times with something. When I saw that there was hanging around, I changed something since we go there to be effective.

It was only after receiving my diploma that I was able to become a partner, in 2006. One of Dad’s best decisions was that even when I delayed a year in college, he only employed me to do physical work. So I finished school out of defiance, vanity, and finally I owe to this 80 percent of my acquaintances and many of my colleagues.

The company had a turnover of 50 million in 2006, and this year we will cut 4 billion.  The real succession took place around 2015, when I had learned everything from Dad and had brought new things to the company, expanded the scope of our services, worked on more and more things, on an increasingly fuller and larger scale. There was no solemn business transfer, but everyone had accepted me by that time, and everyone approached me with their questions.

Quality, uniqueness and value are quite rare buzzwords in the construction industry today. How can this be sustained in today’s market environment?

I think the most important thing is that this is our vocation. For us, this isn’t a source of money, but a vocation, as I used to say in a funny way: a few years ago, we did not make any money from it because its economic side went wrong.

When we started a new job, there were still some fine details to finish in the old one that couldn’t be fudged, because the small details give the specialty of these buildings and such repairs and beautification work had not been calculated before, but we felt honour-bound to do it. We didn’t aim to acquire material assets. 

I always wanted to create something special, and I always wanted something that one could stand beside it and say that I did it, I organised it or I invented it. If a product comes out of your hands, it should be of a quality that you will be proud to stand with, even if you look back years later. Don’t talk about getting away with it; it’s a product that you created to give the world something.

Our other creed is that when you do something, do it at your best, at the highest level. As the Samurai used to do in old times, fanatically, professionally. And if all this is done, then the money will surely come.

If you don’t focus solely on money, you can create a micro environment around you that people would like to work in.  And to do that, I think you need to do what you say and say what you do. For example, I always pay the workers on time and keep what I promise. If you do these two things, it will be extraordinary on the market and if, on top of it, you pay close attention to your work environment, for example, you have rest time, a cabin to warm up in, cool water in the summer, proper work clothes, tools for your colleagues. But I think these are basic things. This is how we can build good houses.

You work on very similar principles as KAV. How did you start working together?

We’ve been around each other with KAV for some time. I’d heard very good things about their unique door and window solutions in the industry. They were mentioned many times at the bidding level, but my first impression was that they were expensive and we were very price-sensitive at that time. However, behind the seemingly high price, there was a wealth of experience-based additional features that shouldn’t be spared in a premium environment.

When we look at the real technical content, KAV has always set the standard, which goes to the level needed here, and they never make decisions to the detriment of quality. The technical solutions they offered would have been the same for the other contractor had we analysed the services in detail.

Then we started working with KAV in a way that they were selected for the project before us.  I don’t know why, but nowadays it’s quite common for customers to want to handle the doors and windows themselves. And I usually say that if it’s already ordered then we won’t have a deal because we’re a general contractor. They say that this is just a window or just an aluminium front door.

But why is it an issue if we already have them?

Door and window solutions are now of the utmost importance in a property, the meeting of facade claddings, the design of planes, vapour barrier insulation, with thermal bridge interruptions, and smart solutions are to be dealt with together.

The architect needs to think with the door and window specialist. This is what puts KAV ahead of other typical door and window specialists who follow the principle of “then it will be drawn by the designer and then I don’t know who suggests it”. People at KAV can think together with the project, suggesting fancy solutions that often go beyond installation instructions. They think about it, add some parts that make a door trendy, no matter how strange it sounds at first. They feel the fine details that need to be put into it. They can think together with their architect colleague.

We received this project after the customer had already agreed with KAV. And they’ve introduced a product to the Hungarian market that currently can only be seen in foreign catalogues and on Pinterest. Frameless, very filigree sliding doors will be installed in this particular luxury building, and they have skilfully covered all the issues that come with it.

I think, and since then I have seen, that they do not give out something that they cannot stand behind with a straight back.

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