The Slovenia Times

Elan: From competitive sport sponsor to family and friend oriented sporting and leisure activities



What would you highlight about the corporate governance system that directs the company?

First, we made changes to the board structure of the company, which was two-tiered when I arrived in late December 2015. With significant restructuring activity to undertake, I felt that a two-tier structure would unnecessarily slow down the decision-making process -- there is a reason why there is one steering wheel in a car. Hence, with shareholder support, we collapsed the board into a normal, three person board of directors which is accountable to the shareholders and made the management (myself and the management team) directly accountable to the board. The Board sets the strategy and the management team executes it. The management team can now, very quickly, assess issues and opportunities, and quickly make the necessary adjustments without a lengthy approval process. This is imperative in today's instantaneous world.

The other major impact comes from simple management practices centered on responsibility, accountability, honesty and transparency. Often, workers are held accountable for results without being properly empowered to make meaningful changes or to take the necessary actions required in order to bring about better results. Hence, I pushed the decision-making process down to the line managers, empowered them to make the necessary decisions that they see fit, within certain guidelines of course, and informed them that they would be held accountable for their results, including financial compensation in the form of bonuses. Hence, they have been encouraged to take measured risk and more importantly, that it is okay to fail or to make a mistake. I believe that this is the only way for an organisation to progress. I insist on honesty and integrity in all business dealings, both internal and external. No one at Elan gets terminated for making a mistake. However, the same cannot be said for dishonesty.

How is the growth distributed among the divisions and how will 2017 end for Elan?

All divisions are growing this year on a top-line basis. The pace is being led by the Marine Division at 23%, followed by the Wind Power Division at 13% and then the Winter Division at 12%. All very solid numbers which we are pleased with, but we know that much more works lies ahead.

Investment in R&D has led to a growth in sales of the skis, the US and the Chinese markets in particular are growing. What is Elan's strategy in these markets and is there any market segmentation?

We have a very strong ski line-up that has been very well received, not just in the US and China but in all markets. It is true that Elan is growing very nicely in the US, the most important ski market in the world, which is being led by a more focused marketing effort and frankly, superior products. For China, we have a great partner who is wholly dedicated to Elan and who has positioned Elan very well in this fast-growing market. We believe that Elan is the ski of choice in China and we plan to keep it that way.

What is Elan's presence in the competitive sport disciplines and can you share some recent or future major projects?

In general, Elan is moving away from sponsoring competitive sports, which we see is more about "me" and "I", and we are instead focusing on more family and friend oriented sporting and leisure activities, which is more inclusive, focused on "we" and "us". That being said, Elan is active in sponsoring Ski-Cross, where we have a number of top-ranked athletes skiing on Elan and winning events. We also continue to support local Slovenian skiing at the junior level and younger through a variety of programs aimed at helping to develop local talent.


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