It’s the “family spirit” that recharges the organisation’s bateries
In our fourth #JUSTbeCOS interview, Colin Lovering and Roxana Tanasa managed to corner the steadfast and popular Bogdan Cornea for a great chat about his long, long journey with COS and how the evolution of the company has never slowed down during his 22+ dedicated years in the industry.
- You have experienced many changes and transitions at COS over the years, what stands out as the most significant milestones in the company’s 23 years?
- I have been with COS since its early days – I started on September 1st, 1998 – so I only missed out the first 10 months; before COS, I had used to work with a furniture retailer, selling mostly kitchen and home furniture; then I’ve been lucky enough to learn about this innovative start-up company which was addressing the market of office spaces with the promotion of Steelcase furniture – the world #1 brand, yet barely known in our market at that time – and I took it as an outstanding opportunity for my career to move here.
- I acted as a salesperson for a couple of years, and then I took up a new role, building up and managing a team of skilled computer wizards, aimed to support the efforts of the salespeople, by drafting offers and managing orders for their perusal. This key role made me witness and meanwhile contribute to the buildup of a strong and ever successful company, which grew organically, and expanded constantly, both the scope of business, and the geographical coverage.
- We knew from the beginnings how to anticipate and adapt to the changes in the industry, we learned to quickly adopt the new trends, packing our complex offering with professionalism, and that was the asset which made COS the #1 player in the market a long time ago, and then kept us as the market leader through present days
- Every single day of my 22+ years with COS, I have been animated by a strong feeling that I belong in the right place – because of the family spirit that we developed inside our organization, and because we’re led by a forward thinking leader, who has always set a clear line to our business, a vision of solid and constant growth, through commitment and hard work. It is fair to say that all the achievements of COS throughout its existence so far have been made possible because of the people, and the values that we share.
- This ‘family at work’ has kept united not only by our work together, but also by a long line of events which I remember with so much pleasure – because you see, I attended them all: Team buildings in exotic places – the first was in Egypt, when we visited Cairo and Sharm-el-Sheikh in January 2003, then in Tunisia, on Djerba Island, in January 2005, then in Croatia, at Dubrovnik, in August 2007, then in Dubai, in January 2015, through the very latest in Turkey, at Belek, in September 2019; summer parties, and other sorts of get-togethers (like wine tasting sessions) in nice places, and of course Christmas parties every year. And above all, the COS anniversary events – I remember so well the 10 years event in Ocna Sibiului, in 2008, the 15 years event at Fratelli Club in 2013, as well as the 20 years event at Hard Rock Café, in 2018. And I so look forward to the future ones.
2. You have built a strong team around you in sales support. Tell us a little about the value they bring to COS clients and where do they fit within the whole process?
I explained earlier what this team is basically meant for, let me detail a bit more: we handle a complex set of back office activities, such as quoting, processing orders, scheduling deliveries, organizing the pick-up of products from factories throughout Europe, and taking care of after-sales activities such as responding to claims. The ultimate purpose is to free up the salespeople from back-office tasks as much as possible, so that they can focus their time and energy on servicing their clients, taking good care of their clients’ needs and keeping a close contact with the market in search for new opportunities. When needed – especially in the case of complex projects that require a good coordination of activities around a complex concept – we liaise with other support teams, such as architecture and design, and sometimes we even team up with the salespeople in their encounters with the clients, for a more direct touch.
Our team currently counts 6 – me and 5 girls – who are mastering a very large portfolio of products but keep constantly aiming to improve our knowledge and capabilities, seeding passion and dedication in this work.
Our Core values? Commitment, intelligence, flexibility and great team spirit
If we were to make an analogy between how a company was organized, and a home, we should place the Sales Support at the Kitchen – because that’s where all the tasty meals are cooked; the analogy is true: our team has created COS’ recipes for success on a daily basis, via the offers that we prepare and put at the disposal of the sales team. Hence, we have constantly been a direct contributor to COS’ great success in business, over time.
3. During this current ‘work from home’ period I guess you are getting many requests for people also looking for home office furniture. What’s your advice to them?
This pandemic triggered a change of trend in our industry, raising a big challenge to so many people, who had been previously set in their minds that work can only be associated with the office environment. People have been forced to quickly adapt to a new reality by finding a new balance in the #wfh environment and trying to provide themselves with a new comfort, both physically and psychologically.
We can contribute on the first aspect – the physical one – by supplying suitable solutions, like high performance task chairs or versatile solutions of desking, but the main challenge I think is related to the second aspect – the psychological one. In respect to that one, I can only hope that supplies like ours can contribute to boosting people’s moral.
However, our office has kept being open, and we kept operating as normally as possible, with the implementation of all the safety measures against Covid19, of course.
So, may I suggest our potential or existing customers who are living close to our office: do pass by, pay us a visit, we would share a cup of coffee and you can work from our office for a while.
4. Like most things in life, we are sometimes judged on how we deal with a problem or crisis. Do you have a story or two of when you and the team had to really go that extra mile?
I got to the conclusion that my team has more patience than I have, and this is translated into the perseverance with which they treat their projects. And saying this, I have in mind a project that occurred quite recently, which required us to do 20 successive revisions of the offer, over a period of one month. The architect involved in the project kept changing the product specifications against the initial set up; he made it on and on, so many times, forcing our sales support person in charge to work long hours, in order to respond to each request in a timely manner – a few times she even worked till midnight because at times, a new request for revision came late in the day, while the new revision was required for the next morning. The decisive moment in that project came when the client visited our office and we also had simultaneous visits here by a representative of each of our two major furniture suppliers. The synergy between their presentations, and the offer in its final draft, was so convincing the customer that with COS they get the best value for money, that they made the decision in our favor, there and then, and so we managed to place this nice and complex order.
Another case that is very relevant to how far our capabilities to handle big projects can go is represented by our biggest project so far – which occurred in the first half of 2019: we delivered 3500 workstations to a very important customer, accommodating them in 7 floors of an office building, and observing a precise schedule: we delivered and installed the furniture by floors, one floor every two weeks -and so this project was run over a period of approximately 4 months. It took us a tremendous amount of energy and resources to accomplish it – one sales support person has been dedicated to this project almost completely over that period, and made a fantastic job – but of course, other colleagues in our team also contributed, in line with the team spirit that I was evoking. It all ended up successfully, with a very happy customer and a consolidated image of COS.
5. Your department forms a vital link to sales and clients. What advice would you give to your sales colleagues?
Dare for more, never say no to a new challenge, get your support team involved in your new projects right from the start and feed your endeavors with the confidence that we are always ready to find the right solution for you; be aware that we fully share your willingness to succeed and fully aim to back it off with our own work.