Kross: riding high with the next generation
Running a large family company is a 24/7/365 challenge where the boundaries between work and home blur, which makes it all the more rewarding. So says Kacper Sosnowski, Member of the Board and son of the founder of Kross, the largest bicycle manufacturer in Poland.
Kross is celebrating its 30th anniversary next year – how was the company founded?
In 1990, my father, Zbigniew sosnowski, had to decide what to do with his life and career. He was a 22-year-old car mechanic and wondered if repairing cars was his dream job. To be honest, it wasn’t. He observed that the Polish economy was changing, and he was eager to start a business. Before deciding how to invest his money, he considered cooperation with three Polish companies: Żywiec – the meat company, not the beer producer – Wedel the sweets producer and bicycle maker Romet. But only Romet answered the phone and agreed to sell my father 30 bicycles. In fact, Romet would later become our biggest competitor. At first, we operated like a bicycle shop and then as a wholesaler. After becoming the biggest bike distributor in Poland, my father decided to start producing them as a subcontractor. In 2004, we developed our own brand – Kross. Thanks to hard work, passion and a bit of luck, Kross is now the biggest bicycle brand in Poland.
What does it mean to be a family company?
Since my father established this company, two generations of our family have worked here. It was always my father’s plan to find a successor and as luck would have it, my brother Maciej and I were always eager to work at his companies. We spent a lot of time here, helping as teenagers during Saturday shifts, working as assistants during our studies and now working in the companies he built. Our company is the biggest employer in the town of Przasnysz (110km north of Warsaw), meaning our employees are also often related to each other. We have mothers, sons, daughters, wives and husbands – and probably the third generation will soon be knocking on our doors. Family is very important for us. However, there is a downside: it means being at work all the time, if not physically, then mentally because you’re thinking about the company all the time. You can’t separate your private life from your professional one.
Who do you think will run the company in the future?
We’re cautious about the process of succession and intergenerational change. The company should be managed by the best-prepared person. From today’s perspective, it may be me or it may be an external manager. We care about the future development of Kross and, as owners, the family should look for a solution that ensures the fastest development.
Are Millennials prepared to lead the next generation of business in Poland?
I am from Generation Y, while my father is a Baby Boomer. I know that we are different because we were born and raised in totally different environments. Millennials are going to rule the world no matter whether we want it or not. This generation is educated and keen on technology. They speak many languages and like to travel and discover the world. Millennials are hardworking and passionate about what they do. I can see it in the company, where we have many avid cyclists and they do what they love. Can you believe they cycle to work 30, 40 or even 100km by bicycle? During the weekend they take part in bicycle competitions and spend their holidays on bikes, too!