Hilti’s Team Members Only Approach

How Hilti Canada maintains its status as one of Canada’s best places to work, with a commitment to investing in and developing its most valuable resource: its workforce

The success of Hilti Canada—much like the rest of the Hilti Group—is built upon the strength of its people. Founded in 1941, the worldwide Hilti Group evolved from a small family company. Today, in addition to manufacturing construction tools and fasteners used by professional contractors, the company brings those solutions to the market with a direct-sales model. And that model puts the vast majority of Hilti Canada’s 465 team members in direct contact with customers daily. In fact, Hilti is the only company in the industry with a global direct-sales force who make more than 200,000 customer connections every day. It’s a business format that makes Hilti’s team members especially important, and the company is therefore continuing its history of investing in talent while making itself one of the nation’s top workplaces.

Homegrown Hilti Canada president and general manager Avi Kahn knows firsthand how a Hilti employee can rise through the ranks. He joined the company in 2004 through a referral and then spent two and a half years working as part of a regional sales team in San Francisco. When leaders pushed Kahn to challenge himself, he took on a leadership role for a region that covered San Diego and Hawaii. From there, he became a division manager and, ultimately, general manager. “I’m an example of Hilti’s commitment to people development,” he says. Kahn’s experience demonstrates a trend at the company: Hilti Canada fills approximately 90 percent of its management positions from within.

HOW WE’RE EVOLVING

“Our commitment to people development allows us to promote team members to management positions from within the company.”

Although modern workers often move from one company to the next, Kahn says Hilti’s culture motivates employees to stay. “Many companies have fancy posters and catchphrases, but when things get tough, they might forget all about who they’re supposed to be,” he says. “I saw early on that people at Hilti act in ways that are consistent with our culture and values.” Those core values—integrity, teamwork, courage, and commitment—drive everything the company does. Since the Hilti Group has more than 22,000 employees around the globe, it relies on regional leaders to impart this culture to their teams. Without that commitment, creating a seamless, standardized organization would be impossible.

FACTS & FIGURES

97%

Employees that indicated they are extremely proud to work for Hilti Canada

90%

Retention rate in 2014

90%

Percentage of Hilti Canada management roles that result from internal promotions

200k

Number of customer connections every day by the global direct-sales force

And while Kahn credits Hilti’s culture with high retention rates, he says the company’s people play another important role. “The company we’ve built here is one that attracts talented and motivated people, and those people want to win in the marketplace,” he says. “We have the kind of team that people want to be a part of.”

Culture and people are the company’s foundation, and Hilti invests time and money into both. Each year, every team member attends at least one mandatory “team camp” meeting, designed to build teamwork and preserve company culture. “We have knowledgeable people who personally visit jobsites, and we don’t rely on resellers,” Kahn says. “Our people are the main way we differentiate.” Hilti must build relationships, and to do that, the company needs team members who stay for a long time. In fact, Hilti needs more than good team members; it needs experts.

Hilti develops those experts through a well-defined onboarding process that starts with multiple panel interviews. New hires complete an intensive three-month orientation that covers company history, culture, best practices, and product training. Hilti has developed its own curriculum and has many in-house trainers who guide employees through the content. Then they start a formal development process under the leadership of a direct supervisor. “Hilti is different because the company provides real opportunities, and it supports its team members every step of the way,” Kahn says. When he joined the company in 2004, Kahn had completed an undergraduate degree in business administration. During his tenure, he’s earned an MBA through Hilti’s educational reimbursement program.

Together, these factors have led to repeated recognition from top industry organizations and publications that rank Canadian workplaces. In 2014, the Hilti Group earned a spot on the Great Place to Work Institute’s list of the Best Multinational Workplaces. Hilti has made the group’s list of Best Workplaces in Canada in each of the last five years. In compiling its annual list, the Great Place to Work Institute evaluates each company based on an employee survey, a trust index assessment, and a culture audit.

Data shows that companies who generate good cultures and develop satisfied employees outperform peers who fail to do so. With the company in a strong position, Kahn and his counterparts are looking to harness the full potential of Hilti’s team members to continue the company’s growth in 2015 and beyond.

A Human Capital Investment

Four key programs that Hilti Canada uses to drive internal development

Hilti Leadership Academy
The company offers a variety of courses for team members, from Foundations of Management to Selecting the Right People

Educational Reimbursement Program
Qualified individuals who wish to complete their formal education in an area related to their job description are eligible for tuition reimbursement

Basic Training Seminar
A two-month seminar and a one-month class give new employees a head start at Hilti

Strategic Manpower Development
Leaders and employees identify and agree on a development process where team members partner with managers to drive performance and growth