Pau Sarsanedas, founder of GPAINNOVA tells us how they’re reinventing the way manufacturing teams are able to produce high-quality metal surface finishing.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Pau Sarsanedas: Well, it is a tough time for all of us. Luckily, I must say that my family and I are doing well, and we are healthy. Dealing with all the restrictions is not always easy. It is challenging for my kids since they cannot meet up with their friends as often as they would like to and do the activities they were used to: for example, sport. On the other hand, this year made us rethink our priorities and gave us more opportunities to spend more quality time together.
Tell us something about you and your career.
Pau Sarsanedas: From a very early age, I have always had a clear idea of doing something big, leaving a footprint in this world, helping the world to become a better place. I come from a very creative and intellectual family, and I combined traditional education with entrepreneurship in my professional career. My entrepreneurial nature comes from my family. I have seen during my whole life a lot of different inventions and ideas that became real.
What do you remember about your first years as a professional?
Pau Sarsanedas: When I was a student, I always split my time between standard education and creative tasks. When I started to work as an engineer in the Applus+ Certification centre, I also began to work with my father, creating and developing a new electropolishing technology for jewellery machinery. For that reason, one year later, I officially enrolled in a new project invented by my father. I worked for nine months at both places, but I felt that I wanted to jump fully into my dad’s project, so I decided to create my first company. I tried to ramp it up, but I could not finish the project I wished for, so I decided to find a standard job again.
What happened then?
Pau Sarsanedas: I found an interesting job in a rail manufacturing company, Alte Transportation, which was really fruitful for me concerning my experience and my personal development. During the five years I spent there, I helped my father part-time, getting involved in new projects related to electropolishing. Finally, after three years of combining these two jobs, I decided to start my second company to develop my own projects and officially offer my father engineering support. It was the begging of GPAINNOVA. During its first years, I was focused on electropolishing projects, but after reaching the objectives in this field, I began to create my own projects related to other technologies. Finally, GPAINNOVA became a technology platform to become a big ecosystem for launching innovative products, which I wanted from the very begging. So, at the end of the day, the real value will be the company’s name itself.
How does GPAINNOVA innovate?
Pau Sarsanedas: Nowadays, all products on the market are based on successful strategy analysis, in all senses: from a technical point of view, regarding cost-effective savings and concerning its potential to attract customers. It means that you need a very complex team capable of reaching excellence in every single aspect. Thus, complexity management is one of our core skills, combined with a high level of flexibility. We are really active and open to all state-of-the-art technology. We are always thinking about new things that we can do, how we can do it, and how we can implement new products. The company aims to reach its goals and generating impact and admiration.
How is the coronavirus pandemic impacting your business finances?
Pau Sarsanedas: When the pandemic started in March 2020, I was forced to sent the people home, as we had a very strict lockdown in Barcelona. I went through a very tough moment, thinking that the situation could destroy the company. After a few days of staying at home, I started to think: if we could not do what we had been doing until then, we would have to try to help and come up with something that can save lives. This is how we created the RESPIRA ventilator, which allowed us not only to keep the stuff we had at that moment but also to hire more people to help to develop this device.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Pau Sarsanedas: In our case, it happened the opposite of what most companies did. As mentioned above, instead of firing people, we started to hire specialized professionals from different fields to bring to life the RESPIRA project. I learned that you need to be very reactive in difficult times and take advantage of what you have in your mind to be creative, survive, and help people.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Pau Sarsanedas: In GPAINNOVA, we strongly believe that the customer’s relationship is the key to success. Until the pandemic started, we had been traveling a lot to meet our customers personally. The pandemic made this almost impossible, so we had to hold these meetings online, probably like many other companies. In the beginning, it was not easy for none of us, but I believe that society evolved in this way, and nowadays, it is seen as a quite normal habit. Another difficult point was to keep the staff motivated at a time when a majority work remotely. To keep the morale up, we did every morning a short meeting where we went through a list of stuff needing to be done and goals to be achieved.
Did you benefit from any government grant? If so, did it help to keep your business afloat?
Pau Sarsanedas: So far, we did not benefit from any government grant related to the epidemic.
Which are your final thoughts?
Pau Sarsanedas: The pandemic was a huge challenge for my team and me. This situation tested our psychic and physical limits. Anyhow, we all learned when it all looked dark and it seemed that there was no way out, you need to take a deep breath and look at it from another perspective.
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