How do you become a big shot in Germany’s real estate and construction industry?
Embracing risk and having good contacts, is Kurt Zech’s answer.
Mr. Zech, chief executive of a billion-dollar construction emporium, is easygoing. Compared with his peers, he’s also pretty modest; his yacht is relatively small – 15 meters – and he owns a nifty BMW Isetta, a 1950s old timer.
A fan of cars, Mr. Zech told an anecdote about seeing a Maserati when he was out on a trip with three of his real estate managers. They were heading back after a meeting about a property where they had failed to agree on a price.
As they waited for the light to change, a Maserati Quattroporte pulled up. His colleagues’ eyes lit up; one said he dreamed of owning the car.
Mr. Zech duly noted this, made the deal and bought each of the three managers a Maserati. “You can achieve more with social incentives than through raising people’s salaries,” he said.
This and other insights have helped Mr. Zech, a 58-year old businessman from a northern German city, succeed in business. He made Zech Group a fast-growing newcomer that generated €1.4 billion in revenues last year, twice as high as five years ago. In the same period, German firm Bilfinger was scaling back its real estate and construction business in Europe.