Interview with Martin Horák - Chairman of the Board of Stangl Technik Holding
Martin Horák - Chairman of the Board of Stangl Technik Holding
What is the current situation of the installation industry? Does the economic slowdown have a negative effect on the market?
The results of our company’s work do not show it yet, because at the moment we are implementing some contracts previously signed, but a certain slowdown in the installation industry is already visible. What characterizes this sector is a delay in the current situation, which amounts to at least six months. Today, however, especially on the Polish market, it can be seen that many investments have been suspended, and investors are waiting to see how the situation will develop in the coming months. Thus, tenders are being postponed and no specific implementation decisions are being made.
And how does the company operate on foreign markets?
To answer this question, I would first have to explain what the structure of our holding company is. Stangl Technik is a company which consists of three separate ones - Stangl Technik Polska, Stangl Technik Cesko and ST Security. The first two entities, respectively, in Poland and the Czech Republic, deal with internal installations in buildings, both electrical and mechanical. The former are, for example, installations related to lighting, wiring, distribution and arrangement of electric power, high-current and low-current installations. When it comes to mechanical installations, these are, for example, heating and cooling systems, sanitary systems, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, and fire protection systems.
ST Security, in turn, operates only in the Czech Republic and specializes in anti-burglary security, property protection, monitoring of entries to a given area, etc. It is worth emphasizing here that the company is certified by the Czech National Security Authority to work with classified information, thanks to which it can implement state contracts where the highest level of trust is necessary. It concerns, for example, work performed for the police or the army, e.g. in ammunition warehouses.
Apart from Poland and the Czech Republic, we are also present in Germany and Austria. We focus only on Central Europe - Poland, the Czech Republic and neighboring countries. Currently, we have no plans to expand to the East or to Western Europe.
Which part of your business is the most important at the moment?
We strive to ensure that both pillars of our business, mechanical and electrical, are equally balanced. At the moment, slightly more sales and works are being recorded in contracts related to mechanical installations, roughly speaking; the proportion is 60 to 40 percent. Ultimately, we would like this proportion to even out.
What about the proportion between contracts for the public and private sectors?
The vast majority of sales we are now realizing are for private entities. It is also worth noting that the participation of our company in public tenders is usually indirect, i.e. our company is a contractor of the general contractor participating in the tender, which is also a private company. At this point, we do not know yet to what extend public investment will increase. It is a good practice that in times of crisis, many countries increase spending on public investments, which become a kind of accelerator stimulating the entire economy.
What has been the most important contract performed by Stangl Technik recently?
Completing mechanical installations for Daimler company has been a very large and prestigious contract. As part of the consortium, we have completed entire mechanical installations in one of the halls in the newly established Mercedes Benz engine factory in Jawor. Another achievement has been a very big contract of complete mechanical and electrical installations and a detailed design for Widok Towers in Warsaw, in the very heart of the city, at 44 Aleje Jerozolimskie.
You have a very good overview of both the Polish and Czech markets. Have any significant differences between the two countries become apparent during the pandemic?
Reactions vary and the situation changes dynamically. Big differences can be seen in the approach to business in the hotel industry. In Poland, very advanced tenders for the construction or reconstruction of many hotel facilities, in which our company participated, were suspended overnight. Meanwhile, in the Czech Republic, we have just signed contracts for the implementation of installation works in three such facilities. The Czechs have even sped up renovation work during the pandemic, taking advantage of the fact that mass tourism is largely frozen, so renovation work can be carried out more freely. And when we get back to normal, these hotels will be ready to welcome new guests. It is clear, however, that the situation in both countries is slowly starting to stabilize and we are all learning to function in these difficult conditions. Our customers and suppliers are slowly recovering and returning to the same level of engagement as before the pandemic.
What are other challenges which the industry faces?
It happens that this pandemic situation becomes a pretext for renegotiating contract prices. While of course some people are genuinely concerned about the situation, others are acting more or less as before. What you can see for sure is the tightening of competition. The uncertain situation and unclear future bring about a more aggressive fight for new contracts on the market. For the installation industry, a big threat is also the transition of many companies to the working from home system. If this mode is continued, e.g. for savings reasons, it will directly translate into a decrease in demand for office space, and thus into less investments of this type. However, I hope the demand for office spaces will return as soon as the pandemic threat diminishes. In my opinion, working from home is not very effective in the long run. Parents who have had to work from home while surrounded by their children must have found it especially hard.
And how does Stangl function in connection with the restrictions?
At construction sites, we try to apply maximum safety measures and follow all the recommendations of the Department of Health and Safety. We protect employees by providing them with all the necessary hygiene measures, we use disinfectants, we give access to masks, gloves, etc. We apply similar rules in all of the countries in which we operate. Of course, we care about the well-being of our employees and we want to ensure the safety of each of them. At the same time, all of it is also a key issue for the functioning of our business. We cannot afford to undergo quarantine-caused downtime.
What are the company's plans for development in the short and long term?
When it comes to the shorter perspective, our priority is to implement the plans we have already set for ourselves. As I mentioned, we would like to develop the electrical department even more, both in Poland and in the Czech Republic. We also want to strengthen our service department, which is extremely important to us. We want to provide our clients with services throughout the life cycle of buildings - from design work, through efficient investment implementation, to service, possible reconstruction or disposal, which in turn, if it happens, will enable new design work on the next reconstruction. We aim for our company to be a partner in every stage and part of this cycle.
It is also important for us to maintain the current team of employees to continue to operate at such a high level as so far of quality and timely implementation. It is extremely important because a satisfied customer will come back to us with further contracts. Re-acquiring a client is extremely difficult, in the times of increasing competition, as is gaining a new contractor. That is why we care so much about customer satisfaction with the results of our work, thanks to which we can build a good reputation for our company.
In the long term - we want to be a leading company in the industry on the Polish and Czech markets. At the moment it can be said that in Poland we are in the top five companies, in the Czech Republic even in the top thee. Ultimately, we want to take the highest place on this podium.