Bold move is rewarding
In 1994, New Yorker Paul Salnikow was a corporate expansion pioneer working for a Saudi-backed investment group opening up new markets.
Realising how difficult it was for companies to quickly and profitably establish themselves in new markets, he saw a niche for the creation of serviced office suites in Hong Kong and set up The Executive Centre to add value to the office element of his client's portfolio.
'In 1994, this product didn't exist in the market: premium serviced offices that allow the corporates of the world to step from their offices to our offices with no drop in quality, appearance, location or value,' says Salnikow, chief executive of The Executive Centre (TEC).
TEC's phenomenal growth has proven its value to clients. In 2000, Salnikow bought out the original owners. Starting with three centres and annual revenue of US$500,000 (HK$3,878,420), in 12 years he developed a chain generating annual revenues of more than US$100 million with 50 centres in 18 cities and 10 countries.
'One doesn't achieve that sort of growth, in just 12 years, without nailing the client experience. Sure, we offer office space, but only as part of an overall client solution that incorporates headcount, issues of time including speed to market, flexibility, continuity, cost and cash flow,' Salnikow says.
The company's biggest challenge is growing the business successfully while maintaining client experience.
'In the next five years, we will continue to focus on the client, continue to focus on improving ourselves, and so continue to grow our network,' he says.
With a team of more than 400 people, Salnikow has given a lot of thought to management practices. He says staff are people managers use but do not see and employees are people who work for a salary but not for a vision. These words are banned in his organisation.
His company mission is to excel in everything they do, although it is not easy to deliver on this promise.
'It requires buying into the goal of excellence, while having the smarts to realise that one never quite achieves it. To be average is simple, but to be the best requires constant focus on improvement, constantly setting the bar higher and higher. There is always room for improvement. So improve,' he says.
And one of the best ways to achieve that may be following the advice he has received from his father: 'Improve yourself in one way, every day.'
Father of four teenagers, Salnikow loves travelling and travels whenever he can.