THE LONG AND
BUILDING PRODUCTS | SEPTEMBER 8
Significant milestones aren’t just an opportunity to reminisce: they are
a bridge which links past and future, allowing us to evaluate and plan
for the years ahead. Kaz Spiewakowski, GEZE UK’s managing director,
takes stock as the company celebrates 30 years in business.
The road on which we travel has many
milestones and this year is significant
for several reasons: it is the 30th
anniversary of GEZE UK and my fifth as
its CEO. It has been 50 years since Brigitte Vöster-
Alber took charge of her family-run company,
our parent, GEZE, which itself is celebrating
155 years in business. These occasions give us
the opportunity to consider how far we have
come and plan for the future with its constantly
GEZE began as a German craftsman’s business
and was once a leading name in ski equipment as
the creator of a unique boot binding. It was only in
1983 that Mrs Vöster-Alber took the brave decision
to jettison this part of the business to meet the
for automatics in
production with other
door and window
solutions. GEZE not
only picked up the
baton of change but
spread its wings across
the globe and gained
international recognition in the process.
Part of that expansion led to the creation of GEZE
UK at a pivotal time when the boon of technology
was quickly taking hold.
Within a decade, the Disability Discrimination
Act became law. Accessibility became a key
requirement for publicly-
triggering a surge in the
demand for automatics.
This coincided with the
launch of one of GEZE’s
most iconic products,
the Slimdrive range for
sliding doors – so called
because of an unobtrusive 7cm operator height.
Automatic doors had come of age.
Around this time, GEZE UK was setting up a
‘project division’ for the supply and installation of
automatic doors in Tamworth.
And then, in 2005, it moved to a purposebuilt
The business is still a
facility in Lichfield which combined the
distribution, and supply and installation sides of
the business. A service division was launched soon
after in 2008.
GEZE continues to go from strength to strength. In
2017, the company had a turnover of €406 million
worldwide and a £30 million turnover in the UK,
and yet the business is still a family affair, with its
influence shaping its strategic vision and approach.
This has great advantages, that family spirit is far
less rigid and corporate than many organisations
and there is definitely a long-term view.
I have worked in all sorts of companies and
all have their pros and cons. Those owned by
venture capitalists reach a target and then get
out. It’s about increasing
value, reducing costs
and maximising topline
forecasts, come hell or
high water, then selling
the business. In PLCs, if
there is a profit warning,
there are inevitable shortterm
repercussions to the
company’s value, it all leads to a lack of stability.
At GEZE, there are family members engaged
in the business at all levels and they have the
interests of GEZE at the heart of what they do.
There’s a natural assimilation to our parent
company, an overarching strategy and staff
counterparts, but we
are given the autonomy
to manage our own
market. We understand
on this island which
is quite different to
mainland Europe or
This feeds our new product development (NPD).
Although much of GEZE’s NPD is undertaken at
Leonberg, we are given the flexibility to modify
or design products where we identify that it is
needed. Ideas are developed by our technical team
or through the established PDP process which are
filtered through a gateway system.
It’s good for people here to be able to flex their
muscles. It gives them a chance to move away
from the day-to-day running of the business and
focus on their own projects.
Recent examples include the production of a
locking bracket for the drive belt of the Slimdrive
SL NT operators for sliding doors – a solution that
was created out of test parts from a 3D printer,
and a water-resistant underfloor operator that was
devised to meet particular client needs.
Technology has brought about the greatest
changes in the fortunes of GEZE and that has been
particularly significant in the past 10-15 years.
There has been a digital revolution as opposed
to an evolution which has been demonstrated by
products such as the GEZE cockpit and range of
smart ventilation products that marry the natural
environment with digitisation that can orchestrate
the working conditions, safety and security of a
Software is now leading the pace of change
just as hardware did a few short decades ago. In
particular, artificial intelligence (AI) and remote
management. We are embracing this.
We have great expectations of the future – and
we expect a lot of ourselves.
There has been a digital