The story of Kone


This Finnish giant is one company you have undoubtedly used several times a day.

Kone is one business that is very little-known outside of those with an interest in how we can transport huge numbers of people around transport stations, buildings and other infrastructure projects.

The engineering powerhouse is over one hundred years old an employs a staggering 43,000 persons. It is run by Antti Herlin, the 483rd richest man in the world and the wealthiest man in Finland.

He is the great-grandson of Harald Herlin, who acquired the company in 1924 and who helped ensure that the group would say in Herlin hands, with four generations of the family now running the business, an impressive feat in an age when the ability to pass on a business to the next generation is considered a significant achievement.

The group has helped to maintain its dominant position in the lift and escalator market by buying up a number of potential competitors over the years, from the 1980s onwards purchasing a succession of American and international manufacturers that would help it consolidate its relative dominance.

Last year the group purchased Marryat & Scott, its East African distributors, while 2013 saw it take control of its Isaeli distributor Isralift, allowing it to control everything from the manufacture to the sale and installation of its equipment.

The group is headquartered in the town of Espoo – also home to Finnish game developer Rovio – with US headquarters in Illinois. It turned over €7.3 billion in 2014, with its enormous range of customers including the likes of Transport for London,  and almost every major hotel chain worldwide.

Regarding its future it is investing in what it sees as the key opportunity which will be developing lifts for use in the super-high skyscrapers of the future. It recently developed what it called the ‘Ultrarope’ which enables elavators to travel up to a mile.

Meanwhile the group also developed the InnoTrack – a horizontal escalator that enables high-volume areas to see a substantial reduction in travel times by getting travellers to enter onto a motorised walkway.

The technology is used daily by most of the major transport hubs of the world however as it is not seen as a particularly glamorous area to be involved in the company is not the household name it possibly should be.

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