- Tomasz Lubowiecki – Founder and President of the Management Board of 7R
- Ryszard Gretkowski – Co-founder and Vice President of the Management Board of 7R
- Monika Mazur – Member of the 7R Management Board, Financial Director
- Bartłomiej Krawiecki – Member of the 7R Management Board, Head of Development
- Izabela Gajek – Property Management Director, on the 7R team since 2010
- Waldemar Paszko – Project Management Director, on the 7R team since 2010
- Filip Piekarski – Project Manager, on the 7R team since 2012
- Katarzyna Litwin – Leasing Manager, on the 7R team since 2018
Let’s go back in time. It’s 2008. How was 7R created and what was it like at the beginning?
Tomasz Lubowiecki: The desire to create was the strongest motivation and incentive to start a development business. I don’t necessarily mean building as such, but rather the whole process, starting with the acquisition of a site and coming up with an idea what to build there. What certainly helped was the imagination, passion and commitment of the people we started our journey with. We were not an organization that was founded on the back of in-depth analyses. We started out as a very small business, with Ryszard and Monika, and continued to learn from our mistakes. We operated rather spontaneously, which paid off in the end. Sometimes you just need that pinch of extravaganza. 10 years later, looking at what we managed to accomplish, I recollect our beginnings with a tear in my eye.
At the very start, mutual understanding and allowing others to make their own choices and decisions was essential. This was a process of breaking in, if you like, getting to know and understanding one another’s needs, which was not easy among people who have extremely strong characters.
Izabela Gajek: I started in 2010. We moved from Emaus to Ludwinowska Street. 7R’s entire team occupied one room. Waldek (Paszko – ed.) was in charge of designing and construction, I was responsible for commercialisation, and there were only 2 more people working at the office: one doing facility management and one engineer. We also had an office in Gdansk, where three people worked together with Ryszard Gretkowski, the Vice-President of the Management Board. We started organising ourselves internally. We had to learn how to coordinate our branch offices. There was more and more cooperation and trust. We built our first warehouse, then the second one… Our first contracts brought us great joy and motivation.
Waldemar Paszko: In 2010, when I started working at 7R, I was aware that I was joining a fledgling company in the development sector: inexperienced, with limited staff, and without established procedures, standards, etc. This motivated me greatly, especially the fact that I was able to co-create the company from the very beginning, using my previous experience and knowledge.
Why did you decide to work at 7R?
Izabela Gajek: It was a challenge for me and, in fact, my work had so many different aspects. I was captivated by the openness, energy and passion of our CEOs. I remember that just before I joined 7R, the first warehouse in Gdansk was being handed over, the tenants were moving in, and I was offered a trip there to see how 7R works. I liked the fact that the company was just starting to develop, and the employees had a great opportunity to take initiative. In 2010 I was to be in charge of leasing, but I was asked to do a property manager’s license to take over management of the buildings in the future. The Board trusted me and let me grow.
Bartłomiej Krawiecki: First of all, the people, Tomek’s openness, his approach to business and what he is like as a person. What I find to be the single most important thing at work is being on good terms with other people, as they are what 7R is made of. What I also appreciate about our company is that we’re not turning into a corporation, and our focus isn’t solely on ‘doing business’. Quick decision-making is a huge added value that makes everyday work easier.
Katarzyna Litwin: For me it was the team. I this was the place for me, because I had already known some of the people. I also liked the idea behind the City Flex network and I was very eager to be a part of this project. I remember that during the interview, what caught my attention was the non-standard approach to technical specification, different from most developers, and the emphasis on quality that 7R wants to stand out with.
Do you remember your first day at work?
Katarzyna Litwin: On the first day I travelled with Maciek (Maciej Krawiecki – Leasing Director – ed.) and Gosia (Małgorzata Czepel – Leasing Manager – ed.) to Wroclaw. I was also away on the second day, this time in Szczecin. I spent the first two days in cars and on planes, and only on the third day I got to know the team.
Monika Mazur: I remember that on my first day we had a meeting with a large bank regarding the financing for a facility. I was thrown in at the deep end.
Izabela Gajek: The first day at work is important and always memorable. Of course I remember mine. Our head office was still at Emaus Street. I met with Monika Mazur. We laughed at the fact that I was the second girl at 7R. Things have changed since then and there are many more women at our company.
Ten years later, you can clearly see the results of our growth. Can you sum up all these years?
Tomasz Lubowiecki: I can compare 7R to a plane. We spent the first 6 years on internal education, running through safety checklists and preparing ourselves for the take-off. At the start, we were not experts in this business, and we learned everything by ourselves. Our first sale of a facility gave us great momentum and let us lift off the ground. Now we are soaring above the clouds, and reaching cruising altitude.s
Izabela Gajek: I’ve worked at 7R for 8 years and I’ve seen the company grow. I saw how the market viewed us and how it has changed. It’s something that gives a lot of satisfaction. It’s been a bit like going from Earth to the Moon. From an unknown developer, we have become a recognizable and reputable market player.
Bartłomiej Krawiecki: You can say we’ve travelled light years in just a few years of development. Numbers illustrate best where we are today: in 10 years we constructed 320,000 m² of space, and only this year we have 400,000 m² underway. We have new locations, the City Flex program, an office in Warsaw, an ever-growing team. It’s a completely different company. We are moving forward with our new strategy and the results are already visible also outside our organization. We are now considered one of the three most dynamically developing players on the warehouse market in Poland.
What is currently the biggest challenge and motivation for you?
Tomasz Lubowiecki: Motivation? I simply like this job. I like the pace, the changes, be it in projects we execute or in the organization. I also enjoy the fact that it will never get boring, as each project is different. Now, at the current stage of development, the biggest challenge for me is structuring internal communication, so that we can stay as far away from corporate structure as possible, regardless of our growth. I want 7R to always have a family business character.
Ryszard Gretkowski: It’s the market which currently has enormous potential that motivates me. It’s a challenge to respond to its needs and move forward instead of standing still. This is also a source of motivation. As the market develops, our competition also grows. It is important to stay ahead of them.
Izabela Gajek: The company has grown, we now work in teams, so we are motivated to keep developing in them, cooperate with other units and take advantage of the lessons learned from the operation of the buildings in order to eliminate errors. I can tell you one thing. 7R is made up of people that you can face any challenge with.
Waldemar Paszko: The greatest motivation is the satisfaction from completing our projects. The greater the challenge, the bigger the satisfaction. And there are plenty of challenges, like organisation, investments, people… At the moment, the biggest challenge for me is refining the organisational procedures to be able to complete goals together with my team as efficiently as possible, and to ensure that everyone has the time and willingness to pursue
Bartłomiej Krawiecki: I do not need any additional motivation. I love this job and I wake up every morning saying: “What planet will we conquer today?”.
Keeping pace with this rapid development and delivering top-quality products is the real challenge.
Monika Mazur: I feel responsible for the company. I do not even know how to express my motivation. It’s not just about delivering a new warehouse or accomplishing something. I’ve simply become a part of this company. I treat it as my own child, so I don’t need any additional motivation. Working at 7R is a one big challenge. The appetite for investments is huge, the capabilities are immense, and so is the interest in our company of the investors and contractors. Capital, on the other hand, is limited, yet it is necessary to handle all that. The process itself also presents a challenge, by which I mean the thing we do, that is delivering a ready, fully commercialized, and top-quality product onto the market.
What about work-life balance at 7R?
Tomasz Lubowiecki: We are currently striving to achieve it. This is a very satisfying, motivating, yet at the same time extremely difficult period for us. The way this affects me is I have no time for sport, which has always been one of my priorities.
Monika Mazur: Life’s all about choices. In general, if we are growing extremely fast, we are all in this together. When you say A, you say B and keep on going, enjoying our little successes on the way. The company has made great progress and has done a great job over the years. We owe these accomplishments not only to our Board or the people you see in the media accepting awards, but actually to every single eager beaver at our company. I think that it is getting harder and harder for everyone to find that balance between professional and private life.
What are the greatest advantages of working at 7R?
Ryszard Gretkowski: New challenges that the growing market throws our way, new requests for proposals, not only regarding warehouses but also industrial and pharmaceutical space. We’re still gaining experience. The work is interesting and diverse.
Izabela Gajek: The team. 7R is made up of people who are passionate about what they do. There are also many different challenges and a lot of interesting projects.
Bartłomiej Krawiecki: Autonomy. The ability to make your own decisions and create. To have real and tangible influence on the company’s development.
Filip Piekarski: Development opportunities. Speaking from my own experience, I have grown a lot during my time at 7R.
Monika Mazur: Cooperation with Tomek Lubowiecki. A great open-minded guy, very forgiving and trusting others. Is there anything better than your boss trusting you?
Katarzyna Litwin: It’s the confidence that there’s nothing we can’t do. Nothing is impossible for us. We always try to find the best solutions for our clients. Well, there’s also the great atmosphere!
Tomasz Lubowiecki: Success comes at a price and we’ve come to experience that. Especially in the recent busy period we need to devote a lot of time to work, which leads to even more stress. I strongly believe that we are heading in the right direction and will successfully reduce it. For now, the 7R plane has lifted off the ground: there is a lot of noise and turbulence, but at some point, when it reaches the right cruising altitude, there will be more peace… and stewardesses will start serving drinks on board.
Ryszard Gretkowski: There is no time to reconcile work, passions and family life.
Izabela Gajek: The pace of work. But it seems the whole world is accelerating.
Waldemar Paszko: Time passes too fast and there’s still not enough of it…
Monika Mazur: If you want to look at pros and cons, our company is full of fantastic people who are doing a brilliant job. What bothers us all the time is that we have more ideas and capabilities than capital.
Katarzyna Litwin: Nothing comes to my mind at the moment.
Has 7R had a breakthrough moment?
Tomasz Lubowiecki: The World Youth Day was an exceptional experience for me. Although we did not take part directly, I must say that it was amazing for us. We have participated in an event that logistics companies are rarely involved in, and this will never happen again in similar circumstances. Another important event, which was definitely ground-breaking for me, was the first sale. It marked the end of a certain development process, and kick-started us to go further. It gave us the funds for further investments, and we were able to move up a gear.
Ryszard Gretkowski: The moment when we started executing more than 3 or 4 projects a year, and we have become a nationwide developer. This changes the way you think, how you act and how you manage your business.
Izabela Gajek: It was at the beginning of our journey. I remember the joy when MAN decided to cooperate with us. Later, another important breakthrough was the contract with BBK concerning building 3 in Gdansk. This was the first big BTS project for a well-known customer, who was satisfied. Obviously I remember our first transaction. It was a very important moment for the whole team. This kept us going. Another important event was the opening of the new office in Warsaw. Awards as well. Especially those for the buildings and for property management, awarded by Eurobuild.
Waldemar Paszko: Selection of Kokotów-Brzegi (7R Park Krakow – ed.) for the World Youth Day. I was involved in it very much. I was aware that this decision could open up huge investment opportunities and become a big leap in the development of our company. It turned out I was right.
Filip Piekarski: I think that it was our cooperation with Hillwood, which made us a recognisable developer in Poland. For such a big investment fund, we were given a considerable benefit of the doubt.
What will 7R look like in 10 years, in 2029?
Katarzyna Litwin: I think that we will continue to grow at this pace. In fact, we have already ventured beyond the markets we know so well, like Gdansk or Krakow. We’ve already conquered Szczecin, we’re present in Wroclaw, we’re about to start construction in Poznan and I have the impression that… sky is the limit!
Izabela Gajek: In the next 3 years we will be visible all around Poland. I think that in 10 years we will be entering foreign markets.
Filip Piekarski: Considering how rapidly we are growing, in 10 years 7R can only look better!
Ryszard Gretkowski: We will continue to be a company doing a lot of business all around Poland, and maybe even abroad, but I would like to avoid turning into a corporation. At 7R, we always try to get to know the client’s history and treat them individually, instead of just mechanically executing one project after another. We care about good atmosphere and deriving satisfaction from work. We don’t want to lose this.
Monika Mazur: I know where I would like 7R to be in 2019, but let that be my little secret. I think that if we knew where the company would be in 10 years, it would be easier for us to make certain decisions. However, there are so many variables and different factors to take into account that it’s impossible to predict our future with certainty.
Bartłomiej Krawiecki: I believe that in 10 years the company will be one of the top 3 developers in Poland, and will expand to other markets in Europe.
Tomasz Lubowiecki: In 10 years, we will be a large and stable company. I think that we will be doing business not only in Poland, but also abroad. We will have the experience and capital, which is a natural direction for us.