YES, WE CARE!
Why NTS Board members Hermann Koller and Alexander Albler would have failed with their original business idea – and why they should go vacation more often at the same time
We go behind the scenes of NTS with Alexander Albler (Chief Executive Officer) and Hermann Koller (Chief Financial Officer). Enjoy this interview!
You are prompting your customers to “RELAX, WE CARE”. Do they stick to it?
Hermann Koller: I think so – perhaps not from day one, but once they got to know our company and then they realized that they could rely on us…
Alexander Albler: AT least they appear to be relaxed most of the time.
What about yourself? When last did you relax?
AA: Recently I went on vacation to Asia – this was genuine holiday.
HK: Well, the timing for this question is maybe a bit awkward – I just returned from the US, where we will soon open our next regional office. But for me it is enough to switch off for a couple of days. I don’t have to disappear for three weeks.
Who takes over the “CARING” when you are gone?
HK: Our employees. They have everything under control and are able to manage without our input.
AA: And how! Last year we both went on vacation at the same time. Coincidentally this was the week with the most order intake. We should not take ourselves too seriously! Perhaps we both should go more often…
Both of you started the business in 1995 – was this a classic garage start-up?
HK: It was not a garage, but a storage room. We met each other at the Wifi (an education and training facility of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce). There I was a coach for Windows applications…
AA: …and there I was an IT supervisor implementing the internet. It was our plan to open an internet café. But then the official regulations of the Austrian food and beverage authorities were too much and too expensive. That’s why we switched to network technology.
Just yesterday, someone was looking desperately in a facebook group for an internet café in Graz…
AA: I don’t even dare to think where we would be today if we had followed this path.
HK: There is apparently no need for this any more in times of the mobile broadband… But we did not contemplate this. We wanted to start without huge investments. Therefore, we simply sold our know-how as a service provider.
Those who know NTS also know that they can rely on us.
Sounds pretty easy…
AA: Yes, it was somehow like that. Of course, we worked a lot, but today the start-up would not be as simple as it was back then. Today one has to invest a great deal of money to set up such a business. In those days, we didn’t even have a business plan!
HK: And no existential fears, too. They only came in 1998 when we employed the first full-time employee. Then, did I only realize, how much responsibility for this person you were taking on.
And now you are facing this issue 240-fold?
HK: No, it does not surprise you with the second employee. Nowadays it is the biggest challenge to find good employees.
AA: In our line of business, there is a big demand for qualified employees. Experienced people can choose in Austria from around 5 jobs, and globally from most probably 100 jobs for which one that suits them the best.
So how do you recruit?
AA: We have a cooperation with universities and colleges, we offer students internships as well as possibilities to work on their thesis or to carry out projects at our company. We aim to associate people with our company; we want to interest them, attract them to join us – and we want to keep them.
How does this work?
HK: We focus very much on the satisfaction of our employees. Currently 85% state that they are very satisfied. We want to achieve more than 90%.
AA: For this purpose, we are introducing an Employer Excellence Program. A part of the income of the management depends on the satisfaction of the employees. For exceptional performances, we give awards and travel rewards to which families can be brought along. We also offer the opportunity to spend a semester abroad at our new location in California.
Is the very first employee that you took on still in the company?
HK: He was the first full-time employee. I am making this difference as we already had a part-time employee prior to that. And yes, both still work for us.
AA: It is time to celebrate!