Responsibility, thoroughness, work with passion.
Marek Szymański, a chairman of Franke Polska enjoys challenges and building up from the basis. He calls the factories of sinks established by him “his children”. He is a great manager, praised by his employees for his understanding, but he expects high standards as well. Despite numerous successes confirmed with many awards, he remains modest, although a very diligent and ambitious man.
Marek Szymański jokes that he became the CEO of the Polish branch of FRANKE corporation by the appointment of the management board and now he works for the same company under the contract of employment
For 20 years he has been linked to the Swiss brand FRANKE. Since 2006 he has been the chairman of the management board of Franke Poland and a regional director for Eastern Europe. Thanks to his commitment, the company has been restructured, its market share has increased and its commercial value has strengthened. Today FRANKE Poland employs almost 80 people, it has an significant share in the Polish market of kitchen sinks and it consistently develops sales of innovative kitchen equipment.
He was appointed the chairman of the Polish-Swiss Chamber of Commerce in 2014. His tasks include promoting and supporting development of the Polish- Swiss economic relations and the business activity of the associated companies as well as a dynamic development of the chamber based on innovative projects addressed to the associated companies.
Time of acquiring leader competencies
–When I was teenager I did not join any organizations, because I attended school in times of the Polish People’s Republic and all organizations were politically affiliated – admits Marek Szymański. –Perhaps my organizational and leadership interests were manifested when preparing for journeys with friends. Usually it was him who chose places to go, he organized tickets, he was collected money. He was a treasurer since always and everyone trusted him as he was known to be good at managing money both in private life and in business.
He believes that the tools necessary to perform managerial roles were given to him by schools he attended. First he finished the secondary school named after R.Barbosa,one of the top Polish schools,wherestudents developed their competencies of healthy competition in preparations for numerous contests.
Then he studied economy at the Warsaw School of Economics. Later he emigrated and he accomplished his studies in Germany – economic sciences in the field of company management, major in marketing, costs and production as well as power plants management.
He achieved the ability to meet targets and to win by practicing different sports, being – as he jokes – the opposite of Winston Churchill, who being asked how he managed to live a ripe old age in such a good condition, answered promptly: „no sports”. -I played football avidly, it was my great passion in my adolescence. I was quite good at it, unfortunately I had to stop it for health reasons. Probably I spent too much time at the football pitch, because I always had strained muscles – he recalls. He also played often badminton. –This sport has been terrific for me, but I am not sure how long I will continue it, because this sport is too fast, too aggressive and I always play with full commitment.
Obtaining professional skills
–I have never been afraid of any job, as I have always treated it as my duty to support me and my family. After leaving Poland in 1985, when together with my wife we lived in Germany with no money, I cleaned up a stable – recalls Marek Szymański. The first serious professional experience he obtained in a construction sector and in automotive sector too when managing his own enterprise. He established a garage and later a renovation company. He worked also in a big dentistry warehouse, which offered about 60 thousand products- starting from filling ups to dentist’s chairs – he also worked as an export manager –The company sold a wide variety of equipment for dentists and prosthetists. It was a difficult job as it required solid knowledge about all product features– reports Mr Szymański.
The search for the right branch was finished when at the age of 29 Mr Szymański started to work for Franke company, where he worked at various positions. He started to work as the head of controlling for Eastern Europe. -This function sounded proudly, anyway we had only one company at that time, it was exactly Franke Polska, which was established perhaps half a year before I started to work and it employed only 4 people reaching a monthly turnover smaller than my salary in Germany. It was just the very beginning, moving forward with little steps – he laughs. –The beginning was not easy, but we had a perfect Swiss product and a courage to move Eastwards and very quickly we managed to develop our business in Poland. Next, the corporation bought another company in Gdynia, then an enterprise was established in the Czech republic, then in Russia and in Ukraine. These were very stormy, yet interesting stories, which brought him many useful experiences.
The most difficult thing for him personally was handing over of these „grown-up children”, as he calls the enterprises established by him in different countries. –The story repeated in a similar way everywhere, first I had to register a company, then find a location for it, find a manager and personnel. Such starting from the scratch was so challenging! – he summarizes. However, I do not overestimate my input, because I was supported by the corporation ready to invest and to take risk. That is why I admire people who obtained big achievements and they managed to develop business out of their own resources.
However, the creation by the chairman Szymański new Franke organizations in Eastern Europe was a big challenge and it required an incredible involvement. He reminisces a story from Yekaterinburg in Russia where a company was created. He came to the airport completely alone, nobody waited for him, it was a real „end of the world”, the temperature -40 Celsius degree and he travelled by taxi from one plant to another to find a suitable place for sinks production.
But he likes such challenges – already after three months the first production of sinks started there. Later he concentrated on securing the highest quality of products, just like in case of Swiss brands. He was always passionate about achieving the highest standards both in production and in personnel management – paying attention to a friendly atmosphere at work.
–Certainly this moment of handover of a newly created enterprise- „my child”- to someone’s hands, is the most difficult, as this 100% of commitment to that place reaches its end and one has to give it over to somebody else. Thoughts appear whether the successor will manage it equally well or even better than we would do it, but we are not able to because of our resources – he sums up. –Yet we need to accept it as the following project is already ahead, one has to go to a different place and to create a new company. Some of the companies had to be healed by restructuration or by changing the chairmen.
The chairman Szymański does not conceal he is proud of Franke branches he has established as they are today marvelous organizations, they bring profits and they function perfectly. They produce highest quality products and they employ hundreds of people.