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Always start with a plan and surround yourself with the very best people to shape a solution that will work

Customer intimacy is one of our key strengths, putting the customer at the heart of everything we do. But how does this differ throughout the world and what does it mean in practice?  In this Introducing Series interview, Younghan Yoon, Sales Manager of our South Korean office, explains what it means for his customers and how, in the end, he believes that everything comes down to trust.

Mr Yoon, can you tell us about your career journey so far?

I graduated from Yonsei University, Korea in 1975 in Korea with a degree in Civil Engineering. From there I went on to work for Hyundai E&C where I stayed for 13 years. During my time with Hyundai, I was involved with the purchasing and construction of ports, shipyards, steel and nuclear plants. This also gave me a good grounding in working for a global brand, working with partners internationally. My Gantrex journey started in 1986 where I started work with an exclusive agent for Gantrex before formally taking a role with the organization in 1991.

For the last 32 years I have been the main representative for Gantrex in South Korea and am very proud to have played my part in building our brand and its success in this region. Today, I manage the sales of Gantrex solutions for South Korea, Japan, and a few overseas countries where our Korean contractors are involved.

You have clearly built a stable and successful business for Gantrex in Korea. What do you consider to be the secret of your success?

For me, I think it comes down to several things. Firstly, preparation is key. Making sure that we are in the best possible place in terms of customer knowledge and insight forms the basis of future success. Secondly, always have a plan. And with that plan have a minimum of three alternatives that you can call upon depending on the specific needs of the customer. Next, see the project from the client’s perspective. Try to understand what their motivations and priorities will be. That way we are ready for any questions that may arise, and it shows that we have taken the time to get to know their position, their needs, and their specific operational requirements.

Whilst the above might sound obvious, they aren’t. We see time and time again, competitor bids that have been submitted with minimal amounts of technical insight, expertise, or appreciation of some of the major factors that can affect the successful performance of a project. We are fortunate to have a very skilled and extensive technical resource within Gantrex and we know, from our annual customer survey data, that our technical expertise and trusted relationships are two of the main reasons customers choose to work with us.

One final point to make is the importance of a strong and professional network. I am lucky to have built many close connections across South Korea, and these keep me close to the industry, having insights from other engineers, from other sectors and with access to a wealth of diverse expertise and professional development.

Gantrex is a customer-centric brand. What does this mean to you in terms of your day to day activity?

For me it means confidence, promptness, responsibility and protecting the trust that customers hold in our brand. As someone who deals directly with our clients, I play a critical role in maintaining our position as world leader in my region and one of the ways I can do this is by making sure our customers understand and can see the value they get when they select Gantrex as a partner. By providing a local presence, speaking the local language and positioning ourselves to be responsive, expert and always on hand, the day-to-day role that I play must be a reflection of our core values and the service, skill and quality that our brand represents.

And what do you think it means to your customers?

Throughout Asia, a customer centric approach is one that is assessed through reputation and reliability. Being able to deliver our promises, consistently, is key. A customer must know that they can always rely on us and that we will be with them every step of the way. Trust is central to the way that business is done in this region and is something that takes time to develop and sustain. That is one of the reasons that face-to-face interactions with customers is key to market development and customer support here. Developing a trusted partnership and a strong reputation is critical to our success, and that is just one of the reasons why we work so hard to maintain the very highest of standards in everything that we do. We cannot afford to put into question that trust that is associated with our brand, our people and the quality of work that we deliver.

Thinking about the key regional forces driving market activity currently, performance, reliability and quality are the best assets we must deliver and distinguish ourselves from other brands.  Our wide product and service portfolio is well regarded, and customers know that our patented products offer the best possible performance. Our position as market leader is key and we do everything we can to not only keep that but to build on it through constant innovation, investment, and customer closeness. We do not let our customers down and go above and beyond standard products and supply to deliver tailored solutions, specific to their needs.

Can you give an example of customer closeness? What does this mean in real terms?

A good current example is a Port project we are working on which involves our RailLok Adjustable Chair. We have been working with the client from the outset assisting with the planning, design, engineering and specification, thanks to our extensive technical support capabilities.

With the client’s permissions, we have taken the lead in meetings, communications, and negotiations on behalf of the client engineering team. We have also liaised directly with the client’s senior management team in both open and private meetings, plus associated technical seminars.

This project involved 28,000 sets of our patented RailLok Adjustable Chair and was installed and completed on time to the highest standard. This was one of our proudest achievements and shows how collaborative working and a trusted partnership can bring real value to a project.

How do you motivate and lead your team to make sure customer service and quality focus stay a top priority?

In the same way that we talk about customer closeness and communication, the same is true of the leadership and management style that I adopt. Whether it be with colleagues, contractors, or management, having a good understanding of their drivers, motivations and passions allows me to harness that and lead by example. By keeping in regular contact, making communication a priority, and really listening and understanding where they are at within a project is key to our continued success. And above all, respect. Accepting and respecting each other’s strengths sets a good platform for successful collaboration and teamwork.

What are you most excited about in the coming year?

We are working on a major project currently that will be developing over several years as part of a phased program of works. The new Port project, scheduled to complete in 2026, includes in the specification STS/ARMGC tracks and adjustable chairs. This kind of project is one of the reasons why I am so proud to be part of the Gantrex team, where I can see the technical knowledge and expertise that I have developed over the last 37 years being put to good use on a project of such significant scale and importance.

And finally what piece of advice would you give to someone looking to enter this industry and build a lasting career?

Unsurprisingly for me it comes back to trust. I would say to trust in your abilities and those of your colleagues. There is almost always a solution to any project or customer challenge if you know where to start, take a systematic approach and surround yourself with the very best people to shape a solution that will work.