Meet The Team – Piotr Kwiatkowski – TFS’s BFG
by Duncan Geddes
Meet The Team
Piotr Kwiatkowski – TFS’s BFG
Every team needs a utility player. Someone who can pretty much work anywhere and do a good job. Piotr is definitely one of those.
Piotr cuts an imposing figure at 186cm (that’s just over 6ft 1inch in old money). Meeting a man who proudly tells me he can bench-press 160kg as he works the heavy press in the factory could be a little intimidating, but his bright eyes and a friendly smile immediately put you at ease. If I was to sum my impression of Piotr up, I’d say he’s TFS’s BFG.
Piotr came to England 16 years ago. Decent jobs in Poland were few and far between and like many of his countryfolk he journeyed here to find a better life for his family. According to Piotr, he’s found it, working on the factory floor of TFS, in Corby.
A proud family man, Piotr happily flicks through photos and videos of his two sons, Kasper (18) and Max (11), both extremely talented pianists. He has a wide, glowing, beaming smile across his face as we watch a series of videos showing their talents and achievements. Family is “the most important thing” to Piotr, and that just might be why he describes working at TFS as “the best place to work.”
He’s had 10 years prior experience of working in British factories before he came to TFS, and even more, working in Poland, but says this place is “something different.” “This place is really like a big family”, he goes on to say. A place where people forge close relationships, where people look out for and help each other. A large part of that is how people are treated. Piotr says that in previous places to work he rarely saw his bosses, let alone speak to them. At TFS, without fail, every morning, Duncan Geddes (MD) walks the floor and stops to speak to everyone. It doesn’t sound like much, but it clearly strikes a chord with Piotr.
“Whilst we all work hard and safely, we have a much more relaxed atmosphere here than anywhere else I’ve worked, and people like that. It makes us want to work and do our best, everyday.” He goes on to talk about all the other little things that make a difference and make the team feel genuinely looked after. Things like the readily available and free supply of tea, coffee and bread, so no-one ever misses breakfast or goes hungry. Fresh fruit Wednesdays and the nice touches of surprise ice-creams when it’s hot, or pizza deliveries when the team works through extra hours projects.
But whilst those things are nice headlines, Piotr gets serious for a moment during our chat. Piotr had a serious back injury a while ago and has had an operation to try and sort out the resulting disc problem. He was so worried about the impact the first operation may have on his job; he was in two minds whether to have it or not. But Duncan and TFS supported him and encouraged him to have it done. Something he’s very grateful for. He’s due another operation soon to put right some issues caused by the first operation and knows that TFS has his back (no pun intended) and that his job is safe. Piotr looks at me directly in the eye and describes Duncan as “His English Angel.” “When someone supports you like that, you want to support them. That’s what it’s like here. That’s why I don’t want to ever work anywhere else.”
When I ask Piotr what else he likes about working at TFS, he jokingly says “break time” and lets out a booming, infectious laugh. Then he’s quick to move on and point to the variety of jobs he gets to do. Whether it’s spraying, cutting, or finishing, there’s always an opportunity to move around and work on different things. The wide variety of products that TFS makes for their customers means there’s pretty much something new or different to make every week. That all makes the work more interesting.
When I ask Piotr what he likes to do outside of work he cues up a video of him bench-pressing what looks like a ridiculously overloaded barbell (that’s how I know he can bench-press 160kg!). He loves the gym, it’s his “other life”. I can see that twinkle in his eyes when he says that. But that twinkle is eclipsed when he goes on to talk about running around after his family. Between getting them to piano practice, Jeet Kune Do classes, tennis, church, and to Polish School on Saturdays, Piotr and his wife Beata are constantly on the go. “I also really like Sundays. Sundays are my day for quiet.” This sense of family pride comes through very strongly as a driving force behind everything he does.
Maybe that’s why he’s found his perfect fit with TFS? A family guy, with strong family values working in a successful business that treats its people just like family. Whatever it is, TFS is very glad he’s in their team.
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Andy Goram, helps create stickier, more successful businesses by connecting strategy, brand and culture to their people.