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Michael Geyssel, CEO of Geyssel Fahrtreppenservice, Works Locally and Thinks Globally

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Michael Geyssel in his office, which reminds him of his company’s philosophy on expanding: “Work local, think global.”

Geyssel discusses his German company’s history and its past and planned expansions

Michael Geyssel likes to remember his first escalator orders. However, the 49-year-old entrepreneur and father of three children has little time to reminisce. This is because his endeavor, started in his basement in 2001, has turned into a prospering medium-sized enterprise with 150 employees and 100 service vans. Now CEO of Geyssel Fahrtreppenservice GmbH (Geyssel Escalator Ltd.) in his hometown of Cologne, Germany, Geyssel leads the manufacturing of his company’s escalators, conveyors and elevators.

Prior to the start of his own company, Geyssel had worked for his father’s business, Geyssel Foerdertechnik GmbH, for 20 years, starting as a service technician. After gaining insight and knowledge of the trade, he felt it was time to start up his own firm. Given the rapid growth of his business, it was only a matter of time before Geyssel Fahrtreppenservice ran out of space. In 2005, it was expanded due to growing demand. This included the shifting of company headquarters from a single building to a complex of structures only a few blocks away. The new facilities allow the firm more room for special orders and to construct up to 35-m-long escalators. “Once, someone wanted a very time-consuming and unusual lacquering in green and white,” Geyssel recalls. “We leave no customer’s preferences unfulfilled and would even gild the escalators, should we receive an order to do so,” he jokes.

Increasing Demand in Europe

In 2008, the space of the company’s factory warehouse and administrative department was, again, too limited. This time, the premises’ area was increased to 22,000 m2, and, to try to keep up with rapidly growing demand, an additional warehouse is planned for next year. Also, new branches are planned for bordering European countries and Asia over the next five years. Geyssel considers this impending expansion the most rewarding part of his work life.

Things Geyssel would like to see in the industry include more mandatory safety regulations in EN 115 and the escalator’s inclusion in the world of virtual demonstrations and construction. His company’s products are all DIN EN 115-1:2008+A1:2010 certified, which helps it maintain TÜV SÜD certification, and its services exceed all regulations of DIN EN 13015.

An Expanding Business

Geyssel maintains his greatest teacher has been “trial and error”: “Losing your own money is the biggest thing that can hurt you, and so you find ways to eliminate mistakes which cost you money.” Things he has learned include the importance of gaining trust in all his employees, sticking to his word, taking blame for his own faults, being loyal to his clients and convincing customers of the flexibility of smaller companies compared to the majors. For those entering the elevator industry, Geyssel advises them to first gain knowledge of the product and sector, and work hard at getting their name out. He recommends using the knowledge of industry veterans for guidance and the strength of the young for work.

A Look to the Future

Geyssel also has no regrets, saying, “I love my job, my employees and my family, so I would have done [things] the same.” He feels he successfully weathered the global recession so far by planning for the future and spending as much time as possible on things that will help his company grow and be successful.

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