KONE is a global leader in innovation across the elevator and escalator industry, and believes in connecting itself to progressive communities. That is one reason the global manufacturer has a significant presence via its Americas-based service operations in Moline, Ill.
Moline is a community in the Quad Cities, a growing bi-state region that includes Clinton, Muscatine and Scott Counties in Ia.; and Henry, Mercer and Rock Island Counties in Ill.
A Company and Community History in Innovation
The Finnish-based company was founded in 1910 and now provides services to more than 1.1 million pieces of equipment worldwide. In 2015, Forbes ranked KONE as the 48###sup
Adam Judd, director of sourcing for KONE Americas and site director of Moline-based KONE Centre, said Quad City leaders and organizations have worked hard to foster an environment of innovation and technological advancement, which helps KONE and other businesses be successful.
“KONE wants to be in a community that is progressive. The Quad Cities is doing innovative things for the environment, both in education and in promoting businesses through the Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub. Those are advanced and innovative initiatives we see from the Quad Cities, and it ties directly into KONE’s innovative culture,” he said.
KONE Americas service operations supports 65 branch and sales offices in the U.S. and Canada. The 300 employees who work at KONE Centre focus on billing, engineering support, legal and risk management, technological advancement and operate a customer care center, which answers calls and dispatches service to clients across the U.S. and Canada.
“We are supporting all of our sales and operations employees in the U.S and Canada, which allows them to serve our customers,” Judd said.
KONE also operates its spare parts organization and technical training center in Moline. Nearby, the company manufactures mass transit escalators found in such institutions as the Washington, D.C. Metro, from a local factory in Coal Valley. In all, there are over 400 KONE employees in the Quad Cities area who serve customers across North America.
KONE has a long history and presence in Moline, and in 2007 the company announced its long-term commitment to stay. In 2012, KONE Americas moved its service operations into a newly-constructed, state-of-the-art riverfront building that was awarded Illinois’ first platinum-level LEED status.
Judd said KONE made the investment in the Quad Cities primarily because of the strong work ethic and dedication of employees in the region. KONE has many long-tenured employees in the Quad Cities, some working for the company for three plus decades.
“When you couple the strong KONE brand with the work ethic and loyalty shown by workers here, you get top-quality employees,” Judd said.
Investing in Quad Cities
A pool of more than 40 colleges and universities within a 90-mile radius ensures area companies have an educated and skilled workforce. Amy Goldsberry, sourcing asset coordinator at KONE Centre, said area colleges and universities have designed new degree programs to meet the needs for unique talent.
For example, in 2011 the Western Illinois University Quad City Riverfront Campus in Moline began offering a major in supply chain management. Goldsberry said that is one program from which KONE has drawn interns.
In the past several years, KONE Americas’ service operations center has added dozens of new professional positions. Recently, the company completed an extensive build-out of the existing facility’s fourth floor. “It was a significant investment, done to help accommodate our growth and increase our training capacity,” Judd said.
New, state-of-the-art training facilities will be filled up to 40 weeks a year with KONE employees from the U.S. and Canada. Judd said the training efforts will have a positive impact on the local economy, as the trainees will use the Quad City International Airport, stay in local hotels, eat in area restaurants and attend community activities.
Goldsberry said several of KONE’s national clients visit the service operations center here each year. That allows the center to showcase the services it provides, the employees providing the service and the award-winning, LEED-certified building. “It also shows customers to experience the Quad Cities and all of what our community offers,” she said.
Each summer, nearly 100 of KONE Americas’ top leaders visit Moline for a week. Judd said the company executives offer some amazing feedback. They are impressed by the summer concerts that draw hundreds of people to the plaza just outside KONE Centre; happy they can walk to nearby restaurants, stay in nice hotels, take a run along the river or sit quietly outside. “Those are traits of the Quad Cities that people find are really amazing,” he said.
Judd grew up in Moline. He started working for KONE after graduating from college and moved six times in 12 years, mainly living on the East Coast and in Europe. When he and his family were presented with an opportunity to return to the Quad Cities, they did. Judd said he was amazed at the growth and progress of the region in his absence.
“Just look at the downtown Davenport redevelopment area and the number of new loft apartments, bars and restaurants; look at what Moline has done to recreate its city center; look at the plans Bettendorf has to create an amazing town square concept once the I-74 bridge work is complete,” he said. “We have great growth here and something everyone should be proud of.”
Cities, counties and economic development organizations within the region have put a lot of thought into reviving the downtowns and the development of growing corridors, striving to make sure development and redevelopment support the success of residents, businesses, organizations and visitors.
Judd has participated in such community planning as a member of the Renew Moline Board of Directors, while serving on various Quad Cities Chamber committees and as a Bettendorf resident.
“I think all of the work we are doing will cause people to stop and say, ‘Maybe I don’t need to get out of here to have a cool, creative, prosperous environment. I can experience that here in the Quad Cities,” Judd said.
Judd said the opening of the Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub last year has added to the region’s progressive business climate. “This is a good example of the Chamber lending its power, strength and connections to large companies and suppliers throughout the region. These metal shops and machining centers are small businesses looking for large customers like KONE and John Deere, and the Hub connects them to those companies,” he said.
The Innovation Hub also offers training in new, advanced manufacturing techniques, which helps the small suppliers remain competitive.
Goldsberry said the Quad Cities Chamber works to foster a successful business environment and community, which is why she became involved in Young Professionals (YPP) of the Quad Cities. She and other members are working with the chamber to attract and retain workers under the age of 40.
Goldsberry said the Quad Cities is responsive to the needs of millennials, and is doing what it can to support the arts, offer live music and events, and provide other quality of life elements desired by new graduates and professionals under 40.
In turn, the YPPs are engaged and focusing on the future. “The Quad Cities is on the cusp of something great,” Goldsberry said. “I’m glad to be part of the community and look forward to its growth for years to come.”
She moved to the Quad-Cities in 2006 from Ft. Worth, Texas, and has become a cheerleader for the area and her employer. She loves both. “KONE is very family- and employee-focused,” she said. “My family has a lot of opportunities here, whether it is fun things to do or attending one of the many good school districts. All of it made me want to stay,” she said.
Judd said it is important for a company to operate in an area where the quality of life is so strong that executives who are transferred there will want to stay. “However, it is not just about company leaders and executives, but all of the people you have working for you. Amy is a critical member of our team and it is great to see how much she loves the area, how much her family loves it, and all it has to offer,” he said.
“It is important, because you want your whole team happy at work and happy outside of work,” Judd added.
For more information about locating your business in the Quad Cities region, visit QuadCitiesFirst.com.