After the pandemic struck, he carried on developing his company. He makes decisions quickly and this is his advantage over others. He is a homebod, but sometimes goes on a journey that lasts many months. He practices sports and composes music. Katarzyna Paskuda spoke to Maciej Panek, founder of the Panek S.A. car rental network.
What do you do differently from others in the industry that makes you so successful?
I have a big advantage, which I notice when I talk to other CEOs. I am a business owner who is also heavily involved in operational matters. I try to take part in most important and strategic meetings of individual departments. I participate in discussions and listen to the opinions of all meeting participants. Every opinion, even if it negates my way of thinking, is important to me. I like to have broad horizons in any topic and then make decisions after I recognise that the chosen direction is the best. This means that decisions are made very quickly and this is what I consider our advantage over the competition. Besides, I am passionate about it and it is mobilising for me, while others work just for money.
How do you react in the face of an unexpected crisis?
I have a strange condition. Mostly I get nervous when it comes to trivial matters, but when it comes to large and emotional matters, I am calm. You could say that only then can I spread my wings and I am myself! When I don’t have big challenges, I look for them myself. This is my indicator of development.
What were the difficult moments in the company’s development and how did you deal with them?
There have been a lot of difficult moments in my business experience and failures. I often say that each failure is like a vaccine for me – it immunises me against the next. However, I must admit that the last year and the outbreak of the pandemic was very difficult for me and for the entire company … In the first phase of the pandemic, we rapidly lost 70% of revenues. Our company could have collapsed. I decided to switch to a military management mode, which I have a bit in common with, having spent several years in military school, which I eventually dropped out of. However, a hard and decisive style is what I learned from this period. Ultimately, I found it was not for me. During the pandemic, I decided to approach the problem decisively and possibly controversially. In addition to mandatory cost cutting, I felt this was the best time for a big expansion. Our service suddenly became available in 150 cities. Thus, out of a dozen or so cities, we found ourselves in the vast majority of large cities with one decision that resulted in several technical actions. This decision saved us. People started to drive between cities and in addition, we introduced not only minute but daily rentals. These decisions resulted in the company being saved once again.
What is your company position today?
When it comes to car sharing, we are a leader in Poland in every respect. We have the largest number of cars, accounting for over half of the entire car sharing market in Poland. In addition, our service is available in the largest number of cities. We have the most customers and the largest fleet of cars in terms of choice. However, in the case of classic car rentals, we are at the forefront of companies. Our next advantage is that you can find us at every airport in Poland.