Superbrand? Nice, but I’m interested in development

Smart City personality. Visionary of the year. Global Exporter of the Year. Finalist of the Entrepreneur of the Year competition. These are just some of the awards that have gone to Jiří Konečný in the past the founder and owner of ELKO EP, a leading European manufacturer of electronic devices and intelligent electro installations. This year, ELKO EP again defended its position among the prestigious Superbrands, brands with an excellent reputation.

“I’m glad it’s a nice award, I’ll be happy for a while, what a journey we’ve taken in less than thirty years. But then I read an e-mail or someone calls me and I’m back on my feet. Because those who hesitate in this field even for a while, quickly lose their position, “says the man who started in a garage in 1993 and built a company with 13 foreign branches and more than 250 employees, and  exports solutions to more than 70 countries around the world. It also introduces new patents and exports with its products year after year. At the same time, he himself has remained a technological “toy” player, who likes to participate in the development of new products and tests new products at home.

After all, your successful business career began when you replaced a mechanical contactor with a relay for boilers.

Yes, during the day I worked as an employee in an electrical installation company in Kroměříž. In my free time I made relay boards. I soldered, my parents soldered, the whole street soldered with a bit of an exaggeration, and then the jobs couldn’t be combined. That’s why I started my own company.

And the relay actually feeds you to this day?

Yes, of more than two-thirds for sure. We make time relays and, as an OEM manufacturer, are represented in eight of the world’s ten largest producers of modular devices for electrical switchboards. Add to that the fact that we produce something under our own brand, we are the European number two. This gives us a relatively good basis so that we can constantly innovate and produce. Improve the relay itself, but at the same time embark on projects such as intelligent wiring or the Internet of Things. Development is rooted deep in the DNA of our society. And as long as I stand at her head, I’ll still be interested.

Is there a topic that interests you more than another?

I deal a lot with the Internet of Things. That’s why we founded a new company, iNELS Air, in January, which deals exclusively with solutions for IoT. In addition, we see a lot of interest in the area, which many companies do not focus on today. Everyone today hears a smart TV, a smart refrigerator, a self-driving car. But for me, for example, the field of agriculture is extremely attractive, for which the world of sensors and data networks is perfect. With smart technologies, we can eliminate crop losses, increase yields, control suitable storage conditions, and automate animal production. This is a unique opportunity – to connect a completely traditional world with something completely revolutionary. There is, and now I will take an agrarian comparison, a field not yet ploughed.

Which is also a bit reminiscent of the path of intelligent electro installations iNELS.

Yes, you need to look for business “blue oceans” and be good at them. We also started with iNELS in households, but over time we have found that it is extremely difficult to convince customers, and the profit from one implementation is not so dizzying. In addition, we have been constantly arguing with big players who supply other technologies to households – televisions, refrigerators and classic terminals. That’s why we started to focus on hotels, offices, but also museums or industrial complexes. Here we can suddenly sell our main competitive advantage – and that is the breadth and variability of the product portfolio. We can do everything in bulk. Equip many rooms at the same time and deliver a wide range of solutions. Of course, it is also more economically attractive for us.