ALUKÖNIGSTHAL is a multigenerational family business known throughout Europe and is a market leader in the distribution of aluminium, steel and plastic systems in Austria, Central and South-Eastern Europe, including Hungary. Their operations are characterised by innovative product development, sustainability, service orientation and personality. István Ádám, Managing Director of Alukönigstahl Hungary, joined the company in 1994 and has worked for it ever since.
ALUKÖNIGSTAHL was founded more than one and a half centuries ago and has been present in Hungary for three decades. What are the characteristics of the markets in Hungary and the neighbouring countries?
In addition to our headquarters in Austria, we also have trading companies in the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and the Netherlands. In the Central and Eastern European region we have been represented in Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, the countries comprising the former Yugoslavia, Moldova and Albania for three years. By the way, expansion began in the early nineties and, from the outset, the owner of the company sought to establish local management in each country. He considered this important because they are very specific markets; the mentality of each country is different, and the political and economic factors are also different. The owner thought that employees and managers living in the respective country were much better able to respond to these changes and to understand the strategy needed in a given situation better. The regional market is characterised by the need to change very quickly. We do not operate like a large corporation, where the rules are set in stone, even in the long run. We have flagship strategies, but we quickly overwrite them if a market slows down or speeds up. We make our decisions based on local characteristics and processes.
What are the characteristics of the Hungarian door and window market; how do you see the situation in Hungary?
Our domestic market leadership is primarily due to major projects and office building constructions. The experience and expertise of my colleagues, our warehouse base and the logistical background we have play an extremely important role in this. Following the real estate boom of 2006-2008, the market has now been back in an upward spiral over the last two years.
How is your company outstanding?
Our products feature developments and innovations that are largely staffed by engineering teams at SCHÜCO headquarters in Germany. What's more, our great advantage is that, due to our close relationship with designers, if there is a demand for a project, whether from an investor, developer or designer, we can respond quickly with individual solutions. A good example is the Telekom headquarters or the Agóra project, where there are nearly 20 unique profiles. Here, we were able to handle the design and construction needs of our partners in just a few months so that our partners could produce a finished product.
Then you represent the same way of thinking in the larger investment market that KAV is trying to bring to the family home market?
I think this is a perfectly good parallel and suggestion. Individual needs require unique solutions. Through its professional competencies and experience, KAV certainly has been able to achieve market leadership in design and end-user solutions for certain solutions. By the way, if I look to the future, the family home market segment will be a significant factor, not only in Hungary but also, in SCHÜCO's view, in Western Europe and the surrounding countries. That is why SCHÜCO is making a lot of improvements in that segment, which will be applicable to both single-family and residential construction.
How do you see working with KAV?
Our relationship with KAV has also brought to the surface special customer and technical needs that we have never met before. We enjoy this job because we love to create innovation, something new and beautiful. Together with my colleagues, we love professional challenges and try to arrange meetings to discuss the feasibility of the specific technical challenges we have developed with KAV specialists. Our cooperation is very good, and I think it is very important that both sides work transparently. You have to think of it as shared engineering thinking and a creative process as we work together.
Your company is Austrian-based, so I think they are ahead us when it comes to the family home segment...
I find that the needs of the Hungarian and the neighbouring countries have been catching up very quickly with the needs of the Western European or Austrian market. Large glass surfaces, burglary protection, access control systems, functionality and ease of use are already present in Hungarian requirements. The glass surfaces have also become larger and thus have a greater weight. In parallel, demand for as thin profiles as possible also appeared.
You started working for the company in 1994. How has the market changed over the period that passed since?
The very fact that I stayed with the company for 25 years shows that we always get new impulses that are positive and there is a need for continuous improvement. We are able to work with very good designers and manufacturing partners, and Hungarian technical creativity is known and recognised worldwide. This is a constantly evolving market and we try to figure out, rationalise and simplify a lot of things. Perhaps in the last area, there is still room for refinement, to recognise and raise awareness of what is a reasonable simplification and to avoid what is already at the expense of quality.